Zone Read: School’s Out For Summer

Zone_Read_UPDATED!!

The 2016-17 high school year has been quite a ride. Spring practices around the state have concluded but don’t fret football fans, there are plenty of passing leagues and big man challenges going on around the Valley now and in the coming weeks because, well… football never really stops.

Lots to get to this week so here we go.

Right Fit, Right Now

It’s been an off-season to forget at Hamilton High School. By now, everyone is well aware of the ugly hazing incidents which have dominated headlines for the better part of the spring.

On the field, the Huskies appear to be in good hands under head coach Dick Baniszewski whose no non-sense approach has been well-received.

“Bano is honestly the best head coach I’ve ever had,” senior offensive tackle Hunter Mayginnis said to Sports360AZ.com. “He’s a great man. He knows his stuff. He’s very motivating.”

Motivation is never a problem for Baniszewski, whose resume’ includes acting. “Bano” can usually be heard before he’s seen directing and instructing players like a drill sergeant.

Recently, former head coach Steve Belles shared his first extensive public comments on the hazing allegations in this exclusive in-studio interview with Sports360AZ.com’s Brad Cesmat.

Sustaining Success at #SagU

If you’ve ever watched a Saguaro workout under head coach Jason Mohns, it isn’t difficult to see why the Sabercats have won four consecutive state championships. 

However with their elite status, comes elite expectations. Mohns wasn’t particularly pleased with his team’s effort after a recent 7-on-7 game this week at ASU. He let his group, and everyone in the immediate area know, using a few adjectives not suitable for this column.

Forget the fact it was a passing league exhibition game in early June, the mission never changes: passion, effort and leadership were the three words overheard most during the “pep talk.”

“That’s the biggest challenge when you come off winning four in a row,” Mohns told Sports360AZ.com after a recent spring workout. “Are you still hungry? Are you still motivated?”

Clearly, the ‘Cats got the message by the end of the night. 

Aloha, Buckeye

Buckeye Union High School will be playing their Week Zero game in mid-August on the islands against Kailua High School, while also visiting the Arizona Memorial, Polynesian Cultural Center and other landmarks in and around Honolulu.

Talk about a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

According to Hawks’ head coach Kelley Moore, Buckeye was supposed to be the “opening act” in Aloha Stadium with Chandler High and Hawaii native Shaun Aguano playing the late game. Instead, the Wolves decided to play in the Under Armour game so Moore and his staff rallied the troops and begun fundraising eight months ago in hopes of making this dream a reality. The AIA recently approved the trip.

“We want to community of Buckeye to be proud of our efforts and share in the joy these boys bring to work every day,” Moore said to Sports360AZ.com. “No doubt it is a massive undertaking. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. Steve Bellis and Shaun Aguano were extremely instrumental in assisting me to get this ball rolling. I am indebted to them.”

Two of Moore’s staff members, Kalani and Puni Ellis, are from Hawaii.

It’s Miller Time

Few freshman have experienced more than Chaparral quarterback Jack Miller. A record-setting season on the field at Scottsdale Christian Academy was marred by an unthinkable tragedy off it. 

A mid-year transfer from one Scottsdale school to another has brought a change of scenery and a new beginning. The college offers have arrived for one of the nation’s fastest-rising prospects and it’s easy to see why according to his head coach.

“Born leader,” Firebirds head coach Thomas Lewis said to Sports360AZ.com. “Every single day is like business. When you see him in the classroom he’s a student of the game.” 

Miller called his first semester at Chap Town “awesome” adapting well to his new teachers and classmates, one in particular. This summer he has trips planned to Ohio State, North Carolina, USC and possibly Florida. 

Lewis said he still isn’t sure when the AIA will decide if Miller will have to sit out the first five games next fall per transfer rules. This will be one of the more interesting storylines to follow this summer.

Sweet Feet

I expect Pinnacle to be one of the more improved teams in the state this fall. Sure, we all know about their host of playmakers on offense, paired with experience and size up front but let’s focus on one of the more experienced and underrated players on the other side of the ball in cornerback Dylan Stevenson.

“Dylan is a fierce competitor,” head coach Dana Zupke said to Sports360AZ.com. “He is not afraid to take on any matchup we give him. He is a great combination of talent and smarts.”

The three-year senior starter at cornerback and wide receiver has also scored 26 goals for the Pioneers varsity soccer team.

“We’re lucky to have him,”  junior quarterback Spencer Rattler said.

Hall of Fame Workout

Former Saguaro star, now Texas A&M Heisman Trophy candidate Christian Kirk spent part of his off-season working out back in the Valley. One of his training stops was Pro Football Hall-of-Fame inductee Kurt Warner’s Scottsdale home.

Kirk caught balls from a few of the quarterbacks Warner trains on the field behind his home.