There's no doubt 13-year old Areg Nazarian has electrified the Glendale Bears Junior Football program, most recently starring on its Midget team that finished runner-up in its division. But Nazarian's exploits as a running back and linebacker have begun to reach well outside the Jewel City. His impressive highlight reel can be seen on YouTube and is sure to dazzle anyone who takes a few minutes to watch his explosive offensive moves and nose for the ball on defense.
It's quite likely even more people will know of Nazarian after he appears in the upcoming 14 and Under Junior Rank Academic All-American Game at Chase Field in Phoenix on Jan. 2 alongside the best and brightest youth football players in the country.
"I'm honored to be in that game because I've been playing since I was small and now it's a big achievement that I'm going to be playing with the top players from around the nation," said Nazarian, who will play on both sides of the ball for the West squad. "I'm excited to meet [everybody]. There's going to be NFL coaches, I can get more experience and learn new stuff. I just want to soak in all the stuff I can learn. It's going to be a good experience for me."
Along with participating in a week of team practices, skills competitions and of course the big game, all participating athletes will also be recognized at halftime of the inaugural Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl for top high school prospects, which will be nationally televised by CBS Sports.
"I've put in a lot of work throughout the season and preseason, training, working out and trying to get better," Nazarian said. "I'm trying to be the best player I can be."
Currently an eighth-grader at Wilson Middle School, Nazarian has been training in football with his older brother Nareg since he was just five years old.
"We always knew he was going to be really good because he's an amazing athlete," Nareg Nazarian said. "He's been getting better every year. This year he's at a point where he's unstoppable."
This past season with the Glendale Bears, Areg Nazarian rushed for 1,239 yards and 22 touchdowns in nine games, including the playoffs.
"He's had a lot of rushing yards, a lot of receiving yards and all that, but his best thing is that he's just humble," Bears Coach Juan Monzon said. "Everybody knows he is a good player, but you wouldn't hear that from his mouth once."
"His leadership on the field has been amazing. His physical attributes and his skill are bar none the best. He's played against older kids his entire career."