Zone Read: Final Four Week

The high school football season is winding down as quickly as it ramped up back in mid-August. The big schools (4A, 5A, 6A) will play Friday and the winners will receive an extra “bye week” before meeting for the gold ball at the end of the month.

There’s so much going on around the state so here’s this week’s ‘Zone Read.’

State 48

As my co-worker Jordan Hamm so astutely brought to my attention earlier this week in our AZ Audibles segment, Centennial’s defense allowed 48 regular season points the entire regular season.

Forty Eight!!

The ‘Zone Read’ reached out to two coaches, both of whom faced Centennial this fall, to get their off-the-record thoughts on what they see in CHS’s smothering defense.

“We knew we had to double-team some guys up front, one-on-one we couldn’t compete with them,” one said. “They’re loaded everywhere, as solid as any defense I’ve seen and they’re absolutely relentless running to the ball carrier.”

Another explained, “They are physical and fly to the football. They play with a nasty attitude and run through [blockers]. One of the best defenses I have seen.”  

The Coyotes will likely get their toughest challenge to date when they face a peaking Higley team Friday night at Willow Canyon High School. 

***Shameless plug: I’ll be covering this game so make sure to check my Twitter handle, @EricSports360AZ, for updates throughout Friday night from the far west Valley.

This Puma’s A GOAT

He stands 5-foot-9 (maybe) and weighs around 185 pounds. When he takes the field with the rest of his Perry teammates it’s easy for Colby Dickie to get lost in the crowd.

It’s also become commonplace for opposing defenses to lose the Pumas veteran wide receiver.

During his three seasons on varsity he’s caught close to 200 passes for over 3300 yards and 36 touchdowns.

In short, his production is off-the-charts and not talked about nearly enough in an area filled with explosive athletes.

“I don’t think we will ever have another wide receiver come through Perry High School that will put up the numbers that Colby Dickie has,” Perry head coach Preston Jones told the ‘Zone Read.’ “They don’t make them any tougher…undersized wide receiver playing 6A football.”

Dickie has played in 40 of 41 possible games, only missing one game (last season) due to injury. He’s also only lost six varsity games the last three season entering Friday’s semi-final.

Don’t ever underestimate Dickie’s skill or heart. Both are nearly unmatched. 

Stay and Play

A tip of the cap to head coach Mike Nesbitt, his staff and the Ottawa Spirit who finished their inaugural season of NAIA football 6-3 and will host Olivet Nazarene in the Victory Bowl November 30 at Spirit Field in Surprise.

OUAZ had won four in a row, including this dramatic late-game comeback last weekend deep in the heart of Texas.

With success comes attention, particularly from the Spirit’s target recruiting base in and around the Valley.  

“As time has gone on people are really excited,” Nesbitt said to the ‘Zone Read.’ “Our staff has done a great job getting guys on campus. We’ve had a ton of high school coaches and players come out. We concentrate on [recruiting] the Valley because it’s local for us.” 

My guess is OUAZ’s season may have even caught Nesbitt by surprise a bit but it’s never where you start, but where you finish.

The Spirit have certainly made the Valley proud this fall.

Reaching the Pinnacle

If the Pinnacle Pioneers are having any sort of jitters leading up to Friday’s game against Perry they certainly aren’t showing it this week in practice.

While Dana Zupke and his staff have always run up-tempo, organized workouts it’s apparent the Pinnacle coaches are quite comfortable with their deep, veteran group and vice versa.

This season it hasn’t been uncommon for Pioneers players respectfully tease coaches on the practice field and vice versa. 

11-1 Pinnacle hasn’t lost a game in well over two months so if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it. But make no mistake, it will be all business for the ‘Neers under the Friday night lights in the north Valley.

Now Boarding The Transfer Train?

Been hearing whispers one 6A power program could look much different in 2019, not necessarily due to graduation, but due to a group of talented and productive players possibly transferring out to opportunities “which better fit their individual situations” I was told.

Of course, if one BIG bomb drops, expect the scattering to start almost immediately.

Stay tuned in the coming weeks for more and don’t forget to use our #FridayNight360AZ hashtag on all your social platforms the next few weeks.