By zach alvira
GSN Sports Editor

Jeremy Hathcock has built the Desert Ridge High School football team into a blue-collar program since he too

over as head coach in 2006.

The team revolves around hard work and dedication both on and off the field, two aspects that Hathcock admits is tough for some to get used to. But once bought in to the program’s foundation, it often leads to success.

“We are a tough program,” Hathcock said. “We like to get after it and that can be tough for some kids.”

Wide receiver Aidan Lee learned about Hathcock’s blue-collar mentality early on in his high school career.

Lee began practicing with Desert Ridge heading into his freshman season, but chose to attend nearby Highland High School before the year began. After his freshman season, however, former Hawks’ coach Pete Wahlheim was relieved of his head coaching duties. As a result, Lee asked Hathcock if he could return to Desert Ridge.

Lee sat out the first half of his sophomore season due to the Arizona Interscholastic Association’s transfer rule. He played in just four games, catching 10 passes for 122 yards.

Wanting to become a breakout player for Desert Ridge, Lee’s love for the game immediately grew to new heights. With that came a new mentality toward offseason work.

“I really started to take it serious in high school,” Lee said. “I went out on the field and ran routes, I got faster and stronger.”

Each formation gave Lee a chance to prove he was one of the most talented athletes in the state.

“We tried to get him the ball any way possible,” Hathcock said.

Lee had 472 all-purpose yards and two touchdowns.

“I have high standards for myself,” Lee said. “This year will be different. I know to do that I have to keep grinding and getting on que with Austin (Kolb).”

Lee has shined in spring and summer passing tournaments, often overpowering opposing defenders.

Lee said he’s put on nearly 20 pounds of muscle since the end of the 2018 season. But despite the added weight, his speed has improved and he has taken his game to a new level.

Colleges have taken notice.

Lee was offered a scholarship to Northern Arizona University in February, his first division I offer. His second offer came less than a week later on April 2 from Army. Since then, Lee has received offers from New Mexico State, San Jose State, Abilene Christian and Montana State.

Lee is expecting Desert Ridge to have a strong season, and he plans to contribute in a big way. He’s aiming to have at least 40 receptions this season for 1,000 yards and 15 touchdowns. He believes that if he can do that, it will set up the rest of his teammates for success.

Hathcock expects Lee to play both offense and defense this season, as he is confident in his ability to lockdown opposing wideouts at defensive back. Lee has embraced the expectations, and has continued to put in more work to further improve.

He’s become one of the lead examples in the Desert Ridge program for what hard work can help a player accomplish.