Zone Read: When Is Enough, Enough?

Sorry no Zone Read last week, “got caught in the muck” as they say with football back in full swing at all levels around the state.

Plenty to get to this week so let’s get started with Week Three almost here.

How Much Is Too Much? 

High school football coaches have different mentalities and beliefs when it comes to calling plays late in a game they’re comfortably ahead. Earlier this year one head coach was visibly furious when an opposing team, already ahead by four touchdowns, didn’t send out their punt unit facing a fourth-and-seven in their own territory early in the fourth quarter.

Two weeks ago the unbeaten and yet-to-be-scored-on Casteel Colts drew the ire of the Payson Longhorns’ staff. CHS head coach Spencer Stowers has caught quite a bit of heat from the people in the heart of Arizona’s Rim Country for continuing to not only play his starters, but run their normal offense in a 56-0 game midway through the fourth quarter. According to The Payson Roundup, the Longhorns’ head coach refused to shake Stowers’ hand after the game.

Look, I understand players need game reps and “tape,” but I am also a big believer in sportsmanship and winning with class, while also setting the right example for your players. 

Life and football often overlap. 

Let’s not let the little picture get in the way of the big one.

A Wolf In Shep’s Clothing

The reigning 5A State Champion Williams Field Black Hawks will face their toughest test of the young season this week when they make the cross-town trek to take on one of the better teams in the 5A division.

It will also serve as another challenge for junior quarterback Zack Shepherd who still hasn’t lost a varsity start (17-0) and burst on the scene last year throwing for nearly 2800 yards and 25 touchdowns, with just six interceptions.

For some unknown reason, Shepherd’s name isn’t always mentioned among the top signal-callers in the state, despite his consistent success in 2016 and development into a more well-rounded player this off-season. 

One person who isn’t sleeping on Shepherd’s skills or accomplishments is his head coach.

“The difference is last year he was a sophomore with two really good returning wide receivers (Justis Stokes, Max Fine), he lost both of those receivers,” Steve Campbell said to the #FridayNight360AZ Preview Show Wednesday morning. “He’s brought other players along with him and developed them. When he makes those players around him better, that’s a different level.”  

Campbell also mentioned the fact Williams Field runs a pro-style, heavy run-based offense, instead of the more common spread look which can typically inflate quarterback’s numbers with the right skill players around them.

Through three games Shepherd has accounted for eight total touchdowns without committing a turnover.

This kid’s a baller…and he’s got the ring to prove it.

Attention Grabber

Sunrise Mountain (2-0) senior cornerback Arrick Dowe was everywhere in the Mustangs’ secondary last week as they pitched a shutout against Casa Grande in Peoria. Whether he was dropping in coverage or coming up to make big hits in run support the 5-foot-11, 170-pounder was explosive and attacking. Dowe had two interceptions against the Cougars, one he returned for a touchdown.

Dowe helped lead Joy Christian to a Division V State Championship in 2015 before transferring to SMHS and sitting out the first five games last fall. He was an All-State Player with the Eagles and certainly looks the part of someone who could play at the next level.

He and the rest of the Mustang defense will have their hands full with rival Liberty (2-0) on Friday. The Lions have scored 99 points in lopsided wins over Boulder Creek and Arcadia. 

They’re expecting 8,000-10,000 fans at SMHS for the showdown between two schools separated by a mile.

Setting A New Bench(mark)

When Deer Valley hosted Williams Field two weeks ago, Sports360AZ.com’s Recruiting Expert Jason Jewell astutely pointed out something to me that had nothing to do with the players on the field, but something which was missing from one of the team’s sidelines.

Try this againIn my 15-plus years covering high school football in this state, I’d never witnessed a bench-less sideline until my visit to DV.

“That probably is a first here,” junior star Dez Melton said to Sports360AZ.com. “We had benches for players to sit on but we got in trouble for that for players sitting down.”

DV head coach Eric Bolus now has a circle of chairs on the on the Skyhawks’ sideline for players to sit with their position coaches in-game.

100-Yard Hat Trick

Good note here from Gridiron Arizona who continues to do an excellent job covering all angles of the 5A and 6A schools around the state.

I recently featured Watkins, a well-rounded player, whose smarts go far beyond the football field. He already has 29 receptions for 417 yards and four touchdowns.