Zone Read: Spring Has Sprung

With spring football ramping up at many schools around the state let’s take a look at some interesting storylines and a few players to watch as we inch closer to the 2018 season.

Without further delay, the latest edition of Zone Read.

Going, Going, Vaughan

No one will argue Norris Vaughan’s unparalleled success winning 10 or more games eight of his nine seasons as head coach of the Pride, including an undefeated state championship in 2013.

However, all good things must come to an end and according to multiple sources in and around the MP program, Vaughan’s retirement following last season came at the perfect time with overall numbers down and many parents not thrilled with the direction of the program.

Don’t expect the Mountain Pointe express to come off the tracks with new head coach Rich Wellbrock and his experienced, veteran staff (including two former high school head coaches) now overseeing the program in Ahwatukee.

Despite losing Division I-bound Matthew Pola-Mao to Chandler, Pointe returns four of their five starting linemen, as well as their leading passer (Nick Wallerstedt), rusher (Jakim McKinney) and receiver (Lacarea Pleasant-Johnson). 

Bulldog Mentality

Queen Creek has always been one of the more physically and mentally tough teams around. Regardless of skill level, head coach Travis Schureman seems to always squeeze the most out of his players.

Senior-to-be Christian Fuhrman is the perfect example. 

The 6-foot-2, 215-pounder played half of his junior season with injured shoulder that required major surgery.

“He is tough as nails,” Schureman said to Sports360AZ.com. “He never complained or missed a down last year. We are counting on him to be a leader on the defensive side of the ball.”

Furhman is QC’s leading returning tackler. 

Next Man Up

The Saguaro Sabercats’ quarterback play in their five-year state championship run has been remarkably efficient. The previous trio of Luke Rubenzer (Cal), Kare’ Lyles (Wisconsin) and Max Massingale (Air Force) combined for 208 passing touchdowns and 36 more on the ground. Most importantly they won 65 of the 70 varsity games they played. 

Now the baton is passed to junior-to-be Tyler Beverett who at 6-foot-3 and 200 pounds certainly looks the part. 

“He’s got an extremely high football IQ,” head coach Jason Mohns said to Sports360AZ.com. “[Tyler] really understands the intricacies of our read offense.”

He also possesses a rocket arm and keen pocket awareness for a young player. Beverett reminds me of young, less polished but more athletic Kyle Allen.

I checked out #SagU in the wee hours about a month ago and am anxious to watch Beverett’s development this spring and summer leading into his first full varsity season as the starter this fall. 

Bob(cat) And Weave

It may be quite some time before we see another high-profile, pure dual-threat quarterback in southern Arizona like Cienega’s Jamarye Joiner. The University of Arizona signee amassed over 6,000 total yards and 74 touchdowns in his two seasons behind center for the Bobcats.

He also won 24 of his 26 starts.

“Tough to replace a D-I quarterback,” head coach Patrick Nugent said to Sports360AZ.com. “Jamarye was a game-breaking athlete who, at any time, could make a big play.”

Now the keys to Nugent’s offense will be turned over to Luis Morales who, despite seeing limited action behind Joiner, knows the offense and has the ability to make plays for his teammates according to his head coach.

“We will be a little different and not so much of a spread concept [offensively],” Nugent explained. “But we won’t have to simplify, [Morales] is a really smart kid.”

Patriot’s Day or Eagles’ Eye?

Next week will be a big one for a handful of former Arizona prep stars who will be hearing their names called in the NFL Draft.

The first name off the board will likely be former Saguaro and Texas A&M star receiver Christian Kirk.

I’m hearing the Philadelphia Eagles are hoping Kirk lands in their nest with the last pick of the first round (32nd overall). Only hiccup could be the Patriots who pick one slot above the team who beat them in Super Bowl XXXIX.

Either offense would fit Kirk’s skill-set and both teams love his leadership both on and off the field.