Zone Read: Let The Games Begin

The wait is finally over. It’s Zero Week and it comes with a little bit of controversy so let’s get to it.

The Verdict Is In

While the AIA granted Centennial senior running back Zidane Thomas a hardship (rightfully so) on Wednesday, Chaparral sophomore quarterback Jack Miller wasn’t so fortunate as he will likely be required to sit out the Firebirds’ first five games starting Friday against Desert Mountain.

Per azcentral, the Miller family will appeal the decision. Jack_MillerThe truth is, it’s unfortunate it has even come to this. As previously noted in this column and first told on this site, the circumstances around his transfer are unique and to frank, quite touchy. 

The AIA’s hard-line stance, particularly when you’re dealing with a tragedy of Miller’s precedent, doesn’t exactly endear themselves to the high school community who helps fill their stadiums, fields and gyms around the Valley.

I’m sure they have their reasons, although none were given according to a source close to the situation, which makes the ruling even more hazy.

At the very least be transparent with the family and the school, as I know you would expect the same from them. 

A Lesson To Be Learned

Friday when many teams around the Valley step under the glow of the Friday night lights one of the state’s best won’t be joining his teammates. This particular player, who shall remain nameless in this column, was kicked off the team after essentially being a no-show all summer as his teammates grinded and bonded in the desert heat.

What’s most disappointing is, as of now, he’s not even on track to graduate. A productive senior season, paired with passable grades would have likely landed said player a Division I scholarship. He’s that good.

It’s quite simple: be a positive example for your teammates and peers, don’t become the example.

Lawyer Up

From the ‘Where Are They Now’ file: remember Connor Brewer? Connor_BrewerOf course you do. The only prep quarterback in the history of our state to win three state championships started his career at Texas, before transferring to Arizona and NAU (sort of) and finally finishing his career at Virginia. 

Now the former Chaparral star will be following his grandfather’s and uncle’s footsteps after enrolling in Pepperdine Law School. Brewer will the start the three-year program this week.

The Air Up There

Earlier this summer I mentioned the recent football struggles in and around the city of Flagstaff. According to my spies in northern Arizona, help could be on the way in the form of a pair of young quarterbacks in Flag High’s Henry Tagle and Coconino’s Ty Furr.

Coco is going to be a more run-based offense this season which fits Furr’s strength behind center as he moves over from playing wide receiver. As a sophomore, he rushed for 257 yards last season at nearly seven yards per carry.

Also heard the Panthers’ staff spent a few days picking the brain of Tucson Catalina Foothills head coach Jeff Scurran who has help mentored some excellent prep quarterbacks, most recently Arizona’s Rhett Rodriguez.

Down the road at Flag High, Tagle impressed at NAU’s summer camp after leading the Eagles’ junior varsity squad to an undefeated season in 2016. I’m told the six-foot, 165-pounder, who also plays free safety, has a pretty nice arm with the upside to develop into an excellent quarterback over the next two seasons in the high country.

Two-Way Go

Down in south Tucson Jamarye Joiner and Terrell Hayward get most of the headlines but a player to watch this year at Cienega is outside linebacker and fullback/tight end Nathan Amico who I expect to have a big senior season for Bobcats’ head coach Patrick Nugent.

“Nathan has really come around,” Nugent told my partner-in-crime Jordan Hamm. “He had a great summer league. He’s a very good athlete. He’s grown a little bit in the weight room.”

Pretty scary to think considering he’s already close to 230 pounds.

High and Tight

The Boulder Creek Jaguars will have their hands full in Athem Friday when an angry group of Hamilton Huskies make the trip up north but rest assured senior tight end/defensive end James Reed won’t be phased.

“He’s an incredible player,” BC head coach Anthony Casarella told Sports360AZ.com before a recent practice. “The biggest improvement in James is his maturity and how he handled his business in the weight room this off-season. He just finds ways to use his athletic ability all over the field.”

It needs to be noted Reed pairs his athletic ability with Ivy League-type grades and the offers to back it up.

Well done, Mr. Reed.