Zone Read: Changing Spaces, Open Places

It’s been a busy week in Arizona high football with some comings, goings and a few interesting developments to keep your eyes on as we move closer to the fall. So, without further ado, let’s get started.

“It’s just time”

Those were the words spoken to me by Derek Wahlstrom shortly after he announced his resignation as head coach of the Verrado Vipers.

With spring football just a few weeks away, the timing of his decision to step down is odd, especially considering the Vipers were 26-8 over the last three seasons with pieces in place for another solid season in the west Valley. 

“I believe it’s just time,” Wahlstrom told Sports360AZ.com. “God is moving me to the next adventure. I’m very proud of being along for the ride [in the growth of the program].”

To me it appears Wahlstrom may have been a victim of his own success with the Vipers. He frequently referenced “the minutia” which seemed to recently grow around the program.

“When you’re successful, you get more work,” he carefully explained.

The well-respected coach has already been contacted about possibly joining a staff as an assistant this fall and leaves Verrado with no regrets moving forward.

Wherever Wahlstrom’s football career takes him, his new school will not only be gaining an excellent coach, but more importantly, a man of great character whose priorities off the field are never greater than those on it.

Wanted: Wide Receivers

As the unfortunate Hamilton hazing situation continues to play out, one storyline to follow this spring and into the fall on the field is who will star quarterback Tyler Shough be throwing the ball to with standouts Chance Brewington and C.J. Jarmon graduating and Ezekiel “Zeke” Jones transferring down the street to Chandler.

Replacing two stars like Brewington and Jarmon (combined 1,511 receiving yards and 21 touchdowns in 2016) is tough enough and it’s not out of the question the Huskies will see more football defections in the coming weeks.

If I’m a high school receiver looking to get noticed and put up big numbers with the help of arguably the state’s quarterback, why wouldn’t you consider transferring to Hamilton?

Just sayin’… 

One To Watch

Alex Farina and Nick Thomas have gone on to play in college and don’t be surprised if incoming transfer Derek Kline will make it three consecutive Desert Vista quarterbacks to play at the next level.

Kline arrives in Ahwatukee looking every bit the part.

“He is all of 6-feet-5,” ArizonaVarsity.com Publisher Ralph Amsden said to Sports360AZ.com after seeing Kline last week in southern California. “He seemed comfortable with his footwork and I took notice of the fact that his throws rarely sailed on him. If he can earn the starting job and the Thunder can give him a pocket to work in, he could have a special year.”

 Kline, who has already taken an unofficial visit to ASU, threw for 11 touchdowns in just seven games for Galena High last year as a junior after throwing 12 his sophomore season.

Jacked Up

One in-state program which has benefitted greatly from the rise in talent is NAU who has landed a number of impressive players, including Brewington, over the past few years. 

“There has been, really noticably in the last 10 years, an increase in the number of prospects,” head coach Jerome Souers told Sports360AZ.com’s Brad Cesmat. “That has to go with quality coaching, that has to know with the number of prospects in the area.”

Watch more here.

California Love

Saguaro head coach Jason Mohns and his staff are taking a road trip this week.

“We’ve tried to take a trip every year to visit different college football programs,” Mohns told Sports360AZ.com. “The purpose of the trip is to learn from the programs we visit and try to bring back some things that will help us on the field. We also want to build relationships with the coaching staffs that will in turn help our players in the recruiting process.”

Mohns said in the past the trip usually just consisted of himself and his two top coordinators but this year he decided to include his entire staff as a way to further build camaraderie among the group. They spent two days at San Diego State and will visit UCLA Wednesday and Thursday, then finally USC Friday and Saturday.

Always thinking one step ahead.

There’s a reason they call it #SagU.

Road to Recovery

Desert Edge’s Roshaun Johnson amassed nearly 5,000 yards and 63 total touchdowns, as well as seeing time at linebacker over the past four years. Incredibly, those feats were accomplished despite playing nearly half of his career with a torn labrum in both shoulders.

The University of Idaho signee had individual surgeries on both shoulders (one in December, one in January) to correct the issues.

Now his focus is getting ready for the rigors of college football, working with his long-time trainer Dre Rodriguez and Aris Physical Therapy.

“I’m just trying to drop weight and get bigger, faster, stronger,” he said to Sports360AZ.com. “The grind never really stops. Just trying to make myself the best athlete I can be right now.”