Zone Read: It’s Getting Closer

zone read

You smell that? That’s fall football in the air…with the high school playoffs just around the corner.

Let’s open up the vocabulary playbook and run the ‘Zone Read.’

Spartan Warrior

While most of the recent headlines around Pinnacle Pioneer quarterbacks have focused on University of Oklahoma commit Spencer Rattler, the signal-calling predecessor in the far north Valley had quite a weekend himself.

Michigan State sophomore quarterback Brian Lewerke threw for a touchdown and ran for another as the Spartans (4-1, 2-0) upset in-state rival Michigan 14-10 on rainy night in Ann Arbor. 

“Fun win for sure,” Lewerke said to Sports360AZ.com. “The atmosphere was awesome. Being able to get a win in my first start in the ‘Big House’ was a great feeling.”

The game had even further meaning for Lewerke, who saw his redshirt-freshman season end, when he suffered a broken leg against the Wolverines last October.

Stepping In, Stepping Up

Last summer Sports360AZ.com recruiting expert Jason Jewell accurately predicted Tucson Salpointe’s Matteo Mele would become a major Power Five target, despite transitioning from tight end to tackle.

His spring was spent working to learn the position.

His fall has been spent dominating defensive linemen for the 6-1 Lancers who host Nogales Friday.

“Matteo is playing at a high level and improving every week,” Salpointe head coach Dennis Bene said to Sports360AZ.com. “I’ve been very pleased with his technique as he is still learning the position. He’s doing an outstanding job and cementing himself as one of the state’s top offensive lineman.”

Mele has committed to play at the University of Washington next year.

High 5(A)

With the playoffs less than an month away I couldn’t help myself from double checking Jason Jewell’s Week Eight Team Rankings when they were released. Few, except maybe some in the far southeast Valley, will argue right now Centennial is the top team in 5A. 

But beware of Travis Schureman’s Queen Creek Bulldogs, Jamarye Joiner’s Cienega Bobcats, a veteran, battle-tested Notre Dame Prep squad, as well as the Liberty Lions. The top four teams in Jewell’s ranking are a combined 29-0 while Liberty’s only loss was nail-biter to Peoria rival Sunrise Mountain, an elite 4A team.  

In-Kline

After a rough Desert Vista debut in a Week Zero loss to Higley, senior quarterback Derek Kline has been a steady presence for the 5-2 Thunder who have a big game Friday at 5-2 Highland. I introduced you to the intriguing prospect last spring.

The 6-foot-5, 203-pound transfer from Reno, Nevada has been efficient throwing 13 touchdowns with just three interceptions. He’s also shown toughness, playing through the flu in a three-touchdown, 331-yard total offense performance in a road win at Basha last month.

“Derek is everything we expected,” head coach Dan Hinds said to Sports360AZ.com. “He’s very intelligent, runs the offense very well and spins a nice ball.”

Expect his recruitment to pick up if Kline continues to post solid numbers at the 6A level, along with having excellent grades, in a well-respected high school football state like Arizona.

Bulldog Mentality

One of the better success stories of the 2017 season is Goldwater High School where first-year head coach Doug Provenzano has already led the Bulldogs to more wins through the first seven games (four) than the last two seasons combined (one). 

Senior running back Ben Smith has spear-headed the Goldwater offense with over 700 yards and seven scores, including four 100+ yard games. Defensively, Smith and Wyatt Jordan are leading the team in tackles. 

Goldwater hasn’t won more than five games in a single season in the last decade.