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2026 QBs: The Top Freshman Gunslingers in the Valley

Updated: Aug 1, 2022

2026 QBs: The Top Freshman Gunslingers in the Valley

Every year there are new high school football players moving up from grade school to Friday Night Lights. It can be quite the adjustment, but QB Hit List’s top ranked 2026 quarterbacks in Arizona are all confident that their game will translate to the next level.

No. 1 Jayden Pico, Shadow Ridge HS

Height: 5’10”

Weight: 150 lbs

QB Hit List Score: 82.86

Pico is a dual threat quarterback that has consistently shown an ability to make plays with his legs and is expected to make an immediate impact on the varsity level at Shadow Ridge. Pico already has experience against high school competition, splitting reps with Cactus QB and 2021 BJ Media Athlete of the Year Rudy Gonzales for Sweetfeet Elite on the 7on7 circuit this spring.

Biggest Difference

“The speed… It’s definitely a change of pace from eighth grade all the way up to varsity,” Pico said.

Training & preparation

“[I have been] working almost every day,” Pico said. “[I have] been throwing and getting online with my QB coach and going over the mental side of the game.”

Goals & Aspirations

“I see myself going to the NFL and going D1,” Pico said. “Everyone says I’m too short. In high school I’m going to show them what’s up. Watch out for me.”

No. 2 Rylan Reyes, Highland HS

Height: 5’10”

Weight: 155 lbs

QB Hit List Score: 82.82

Reyes displays great accuracy on both short and deep passes as well as an elite ability to make plays on the ground with wide receiver-like speed. Reyes joins a loaded QB room for the Hawks program, but is very capable of leading a talented freshman team to 8-10 wins this season.

Most Excited For

“Man, I’m excited for pregame stuff, getting hyped with my teammates, getting ready for battle with them,” Reyes said. “We’re going to work this offseason, try to go undefeated this season and be the best.”

Dealing with Pressure

“No pressure at all,” Reyes said. “I’ve got these guys around me. They’re like family to me, like my brothers. They always pick me up.”

Training & Preparation

“I’m training with all these guys. The best quarterbacks,” Reyes said. “Spencer Rattler, Jalen Daniels. All of them help me get better this offseason.”

Goals & Aspirations

“I want to get better. Be that number one QB in Arizona,” Reyes said. “I want to beat the top schools like Chandler and Saguaro.”

No. 3 Christian Sartor, Mountain Ridge HS

Height: 5’11”

Weight: 150 lbs

QB Hit List Score: 82.16

QB Hit List only lists Sartor-Sharp at 5’11”, but he plays with the confidence like he’s 6’3” or 6’4”. Sartor-Sharp’s baseball background definitely shows when he launches deep passes with arguably the strongest arm out of 2026 QBs in the state. While the Lions’ three-star QB Brendan Anderson is the clear-cut starter, it will not be long before Sartor-Sharp gets his opportunity to take the surging Lions program to a next level.

Most Excited For

“I’m excited to be playing under the lights with everyone watching. Just trying to show off what I can do,” Sartor said.

Work Ethic

“Staying focused and keep working,” Sartor said.

Training & Preparation

“[I’m working on getting] rid of the ball faster and not holding onto the ball so long,” Sartor said. “[Trying to] put some zip on the ball because if you don’t, it’s going to get picked.”

Kainan Manna, Centennial HS

Height: 5’8”

Weight: 140 lbs

QB Hit List Score: N/A

Manna has shown the ability to consistently hit throws 15+ yards down the field and is expected to make an immediate impact for the Coyotes as a freshman. Manna already has experience against high school competition as the primary QB with AZ Dolphins Aqua in the 7on7 circuit this spring. He does not show up in the QB Hit List rankings due to never competing in any of their events, however he won first place in the Elev8 QB Competition for the Class of 2026.

The Big Stage

“Friday night lights is different than anything else,” Manna said.

Biggest Difference

“Going from youth sports to varsity sports is a big difference with the kids, the sizes, the bang bang plays, everything is just a lot faster,” Manna said. “Trying to speed it up and get better every day.”

Training & Preparation

“Every day, Monday through Friday, I lift, I run on the track, get on the practice field, work on footwork,” Manna said. “All kinds of stuff to stay in shape and get ready for September.”

Biggest Improvement

“[I’m] learning how to make the right reads even quicker,” Manna said. “[It allows me] to escape the pressure.”

Goals & Aspirations

“I just want to be the best version of myself, wherever that takes me,” Manna said. “The m

ain goal is division 1 college football. Focused on where I’m at right now. I’m not going to look into the future because all that stuff is based on how I do and what I’m doing today. Present is what I got to focus on.”

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