Zone Read: Rounding Into Form

Arizona high school football is in full swing as we enter Week 3. 

Last Friday I watched Salpointe Catholic’s Bijan Robinson put on one the greatest single-game performances in Arizona high school football history. There’s something quite special happening in the desert under the Friday night lights so make sure you take the time to support your local school and all their teams, not just football.

Let’s get into this week’s “Zone Read.”

Zero Question Marks…Although I featured Jihad Marks last spring, I had never seen him play live until last week against Salpointe.

Paint me impressed.

What stood out most was his versatility. Whether it was running a number of precise routes, taking direct snaps from center or returning punts, he was easily the Scorpions’ most dangerous weapon against a veteran and experienced Salpointe defense. The 6-foot-1, 185-pounder caught nine passes for 208 and three touchdowns.

That’s bad news for the rest of Desert Edge’s opponents this fall.

“Last year was just the start of something special and this year we’re going to take the top off all defenses,” sophomore quarterback Adryan Lara told the “Zone Read.” “Jihad and the rest of the receiver squad are all on the same page as me at all times because we’ve been working on it for so long. It’s basically second nature.”

Lara leads the state in passing (1069 yards), while his partner-in-crime Marks tops all of Arizona’s gifted receivers (439). 

Edge gets another tough test against Goodyear neighbor Millennium on Friday.

Inside the Numbers…Chaparral quarterback Jack Miller etched his name among the top signal-callers quite some time ago but it’s crazy to think what sort of stats the Ohio State commit would have accumulated if he’d been healthy his entire four years.

As a freshman at Scottsdale Christian Academy, Miller threw for 3,653 yards and 51 touchdowns, albeit against lesser competition, before transferring to Chap before his sophomore year. Although he missed three games last year and another this year due to injury, Miller, if healthy, will eclipse 10,000 passing yards before moving on to Columbus.

What goes largely unnoticed is how well Miller takes care of the ball. He’s thrown only 27 career interceptions on 847 attempts. For clarity, that’s only 3.1 percent of every attempt. Further, his touchdown to interception ratio is nearly 4-1 (104-27) and his quarterback rating is a jaw-dropping 115.8.

Miller threw two touchdowns in a blowout win last week against Desert Mountain. A much bigger challenge looms next week against some school named Saguaro. Expect plenty of fireworks at ChapTown on September 20.

His connection to Ohio State technically started when Miller met his childhood idol Tim Tebow when he was in sixth grade. Tebow was playing for Meyer at Florida and Miller was first introduced to the eventual Buckeyes’ coach at that time. 

My, Oh Maya!…On a team littered with stars, few outside the Pinnacle program seem to mention the steady leadership and unparalleled production from senior linebacker Alonzo Maya who returned an interception for a touchdown for the second consecutive week as the Pioneers pulled away from district rival Horizon last Friday 63-46 in their home opener.

So far in 2019, Maya’s 16 tackles ranks second to only fellow linebacker Mac Franklin (19). This coming off a season where Maya tallied 113, including nine for loss, four sacks and three fumbles recovered.

“Alonzo is the heart of our defense,” Pinnacle head coach Dana Zupke explained to the “Zone Read.” “He is an incredibly talented, instinctive defensive player. He plays with incredible intensity which [impacts] our entire defense.”

Although it’s early, I told you (wink, wink) Pinnacle would be improved this year defensively. Next week’s game at powerhouse Eastside Catholic (WA) will likely present a whole different set of problems.

The Mountain…It’s been fun watching azcentral’s mini documentaries on the South Mountain Jaguars. Not only are they very well produced, they’re also an honest reflection of where the program is headed under co-head coaches Mark and Marcus Carter with their squad both on and, most importantly, off the field. There are so many teams around the Valley and the entire state filled with great stories to tell about incredible coaches and players at all levels, much like at South. 

As the talent in this state continues to grow, so to do the storylines.

Please be sure to use our #FridayNight360AZ hashtag on all your social media platforms when you’re out and about at games Friday and throughout the remainder of the season.