Zone Read: Summer Heating Up

Is it high school football season yet? Nope. Not when the Valley temperatures are what we’ve seen this week. Sure late August is warm but if we can keep the mercury from hitting 120 on a consistent basis it would be greatly appreciated. 

After being off last week on vacation, Zone Read is back so let’s get to it.

Bear-Necessities 

Rich Wellbrock is making strides on the field at Basha but even bigger one’s off it. Since officially arriving back in January the no non-sense, tough coach has preached work ethic and discipline. 

This past week over 110 Basha players gave back to their east Valley community.

“It’s all about getting out of themselves a little bit,” Wellbrock said to Sports360AZ.com regarding the message to his team before their community service. “Get out of your little high school bubble. I wanted to make sure we did that at Basha.”

Wellbrock said this was the first time Basha football participated in a community event. The goal is to do one in-season and one in the off-season. The hope is to make his players more complete people.

Bravo, coach.

Bigger is Better

This spring I chronicled the sudden recruiting rise of Matteo Mele down at Tucson Salpointe. Some exception film and high-end potential equaled a slew of Power 5 offers after an off-season sit-down with his head coach.  

Fast forward to late June and it’s clear to see Mele’s efforts on the field and off it is paying off as the former tight end.

“Matteo is working really [hard],” Salpointe head coach Dennis Bene said to Sports360AZ.com. “Up to 275 pounds. At a recent big man competition he benched 185 pounds 30 times.”

Bene said Mele is scheduled to take a visit to the University of Washington this weekend and has a pretty good idea of his top five schools.

Stay tuned. 

Back on the Sidelines

Was happy to see Derek Wahlstrom is back coaching in the west Valley. The man who helped put Verrado on the map takes over across the I-10 at Estrella Foothills High School after Lamar Early left for the same position at Goodyear Millennium. 

“Estrella Foothills was an excellent fit for me because of the shared vision and values,” Wahlstrom said to Sports360AZ.com. “They value athletics as part of the educational process and are willing to back that up with the time and money they invest.”

Two years ago the Wolves won 10 games behind star running back Joe Logan who I expect to have a big sophomore season for Jerome Souers up at NAU.

I hear there are some pretty good athletes for Wahlstrom to work with next season so don’t be surprised to see the Wolves improve on their 5-5 record last fall after moving a division to 4A. 

Oklahoma Sooner…Or Later?

‘Tis the season for college visits and Pinnacle 2019 quarterback Spencer Rattler has been making the rounds recently. First a trip to USC and most recently to Big 12 country to check out Oklahoma.

“I loved everything,” Rattler said to Sports360AZ.com. “The coaches, the facilities, the atmosphere.” 

There’s also history with new OU head coach Lincoln Riley who offered Rattler a couple of years ago when he was serving as the Sooners’ offensive coordinator under Bob Stoops.

Despite being his first offer, I get the sense ASU is going to have a tough time keeping Rattler in Arizona. If you’re not familiar with his of success on and off the field, this is well worth watching

Stay and Play

As high school football in Arizona continues to evolve on the field, schools around the Valley are stepping it up off the field, as well. Saguaro is getting a makeover this summer and at Deer Valley the players are taking advantage of a nice little perk: the new DV player room.

“We’ve been hanging out a lot more after school and I think this new player room I think will help,” defensive back Chandler Pearson said to Sports360AZ.com during spring workouts. “Instead of going home you can hang out there so rides aren’t an issue, like coming back to practice.”

The two-room set up is equipped with flat screen televisions, Xboxes, PlayStations, a Wii and a popcorn machine, a refrigerator for snacks and a couple of couches. The assets were purchased through alumni donations.

During regular school hours the room also serves as a study area equipped with computers and tutors.