Zone Read: Welcoming In 2018

Let me break in the new year by wishing all the high school football players, coaches, parents, administrators, etc. a very happy 2018. 2017 was an incredible season across the board in State Forty Eight so let’s kick off (see what I did there?) the new year in style.

Wait and See

The ground-shaking news Tuesday night of University of Arizona head coach Rich Rodriguez being fired has impacted the Wildcats’ top in-state target, Cienega’s Jamarye Joiner, who has been a ‘Cat commit since the late summer of 2016. 

Although Joiner tweeted this just a week ago, it appears he’s far from making a final decision.

“I think Jamarye is very concerned, everything is up in the air [at Arizona] and it’s a wait and see,” Cienega head coach Patrick Nugent said to Sports360AZ.com. “He did get an offer last week from Nebraska but since he did not sign he will have to wait and see what happens at UofA.”  

Rodriquez assistants Rod Smith (co-offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach) and Calvin Magee (co-offensive coordinator, associate head coach, tight ends coach) have been the primary recruiters for Joiner who plans on taking a few more visits before signing day on February 7th. 

Winning Formula?

As the old saying goes, “All’s well that ends well.” 

The AIA and first-year Executive Director David Hines faced a unique challenge this fall: figuring out where to play the big-school championship games due to a pair of unavoidable circumstances.

The Arizona Cardinals hosted three-consecutive home games eliminating the University of Phoenix Stadium as an option. Meanwhile in Tempe,  east side demolition of Sun Devil Stadium started in early December, coinciding with 4A-6A title games on December 2nd.

Thus, the games were moved to Tucson and played a week later than the usual Saturday after Thanksgiving date. Hines raved at the treatment and hospitality the AIA received from Rodriguez and the entire UofA staff and support.  

The bye week between the semi-finals and championship games not only allowed for extra rest and preparation for the participants, but also put the small-school title match-ups, played a week earlier, in the spotlight not having to compete against the big school games which usually take place on the same day.

Playing With The Big Dogs

The Horizon Huskies are losing their entire offensive and defensive line, including two who are off to play Division I football in the fall. 

If you think head coach Ty Wisdom is stressing about the situation, think again.

“We lost a great group of guys up front on both sides of the ball last year,” Wisdom said to Sports360AZ.com. “I expect these younger guys to grow up real quick this off-season, put the work in and become the players they have the potential to become.”

The group is led by juniors-to-be Kyle Lewis (6’2, 225) and Raphael Masella (6’4, 220). Wisdom believes Masella has a chance to be the next great lineman at Horizon considering his size as a underclassman and athleticism as a standout on the Huskies’ wrestling team.

HHS’s 2020 class up front also features intriguing prospects in JD Klever (6’5, 285) who also plays basketball and Elijah Mersalat, younger brother of New Mexico State commit Isaiah who was a two-way star for the Huskies the past three seasons.

Rich Getting Richer?

My spies in southeast Valley are hearing the two-time defending 6A state champion Chandler Wolves may be getting a running back transfer from the San Diego area.

Head coach Shaun Aguano already returns Decarlos Brooks who rushed for over 1300 yards and 14 touchdowns as a junior. Drake Anderson will graduate after amassing a jaw-dropping 2319 yards and 37 total touchdowns for the state power.