Zone Read: Hitting September Running

Would you believe by the end of this weekend some teams will already be 30 percent of the way through their season?

The 2019 Arizona high school football season is shaping up to be a memorable one with another collection of marquee teams playing big games both in and out-of-state so let’s break the sugar huddle (honestly, one of my favorite football terms) and run this week’s “Zone Read.”

Robinson Roundup…Friday night in the far west Valley will feature not just two of the top programs in 4A but a pair of consistent, year-in and year-out, winners when Desert Edge entertains Tucson Salpointe. 

A year ago in southern Arizona the Scorpions held a 21-14 halftime lead before SC clawed back for a hard-fought 28-21 win. 

For DE, last year’s problem is once again this year’s problem: how to contain (because no one stops him) Bijan Robinson.

“Preparing for Bijan is definitely a tall order,” Desert Edge head coach Jose Lucero told the “Zone Read.” “He is such talented athlete and Salpointe’s coaching staff does a really good job of utilizing him.”

Lucero believes to slow “Bi-gone,” the key is taking proper angles in space and swarming to the ball. As we’ve seen the last three seasons, when Robinson finds a crease or crack he’s always a threat to take it the distance.

While Robinson’s overall stats last year against Edge looked pretty Bijan-like (27 carries, 187 yards, 6.9 yards per carry) but if Lucero’s defense can hold him to one touchdown like they did last fall in the Old Pueblo, he has to like his chances at home.

I’d ask everyone who truly loves high school football in this state to simply appreciate Robinson. 

Seek and Destroy…While Mountain Pointe left much to be desired in their 40-0 home loss to Pinnacle on Friday, senior two-way star Rashion Hodge certainly did his part for the Pride. The rangy 6-foot-2, 225-pound athlete was all over the field defensively stopping Pinnacle skill players immediately on contact and keeping MP within striking distance in the first half.

He was credited for seven tackles, including three for loss. As a junior he racked up a jaw-dropping 109 tackles, including 19.5 TFL.

The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree in the Hodge family. Older brother Rashie was one of the best linebackers in MP history and their father was a standout prep football player in the Valley, as well.

There may a chance Rashion joins big brother in Las Cruces next season.

Expect the list to grow in the coming weeks if he continues to stand out like he did last week against the powerful Pioneers.

SIU To SVP…How cool was it seeing former Casteel Colts’ star wide receiver Zach Nelson on “SportsCenter” with Scott Van Pelt Monday night?

“I thought it was pretty cool,” the Southern Utah true freshman said to the “Zone Read.” “I kind of reminded me on being on (Channel 12’s) “Friday Night Fever”…I think my parents were more excited than I was, though!”

Nelson said he first heard about it through a friend before his twitter feed started blowing up like the one from yours truly above.

I remember seeing Nelson shred Centennial last year in the season opener and knew he was in for a big season. Turns out his college debut against Division I UNLV wasn’t too shappy, either. The 6-foot-1, 190-pounder caught three passes for 44 yards. Two of those receptions went for touchdowns.

Saguaro Not Sweatin’ It…No, the sky is not falling in south Scottsdale just off the 101 and McDonald. Yes, the six-time defending state champions lost a last-second 18-10 heart-breaker in San Diego to Cathedral Catholic but for Saguaro head coach Jason Mohns and the ‘Cats, it’s simply back to business preparing for Faith Lutheran Saturday afternoon in Las Vegas.

“We really had a lot of self-inflicted wounds in that game,” Mohns explained to the “Zone Read” on Monday. “There was a turning point in that game where it could have gone downhill but we stayed in the fight even though we made a lot of mistakes. I was proud of our guys. They’re showed a lot of heart and they showed a lot of toughness.”

When you consider #SagU (1-1) only had six offensive possessions the entire game, committed 12 penalties, turned the ball over twice and managed only three points on two trips to the red zone in the first half — it’s even more remarkable they had a chance to the game on the road in the closing seconds against one of southern California’s top teams.

Expect a better effort from Faith Lutheran than they showed in their blowout loss to Mountain Pointe two weeks ago in Sin City.