Zone Read: The Summer Swing

I know this is a high school football column but let’s start this “Zone Read” by playing meteorologist real quick. Please live in the present and not think about what it’s going to be like outside next week at this time in the Valley.

Here’s a hint: the summer sizzle is coming.

Speaking of living in the present, here’s my latest “Zone Read.”

Movin’ On Up 

This week was a big one in Arizona high school football circles as 2020 schedules were (finally) released.

With a number of schools climbing up a division, including Higley, “Zone Read” decided to reach out to Knights’ head coach Eddy Zubey and see if the COVID-19 restrictions/pandemic puts he and other coaches behind the eight ball as they prepare for a more difficult slate this fall.

“I don’t think we are behind more than any other team,”  he explained. “In the summer [7-on-7’s], everyone is pretty much in the same division. Every team has been off for the same amount of time. We got moved up to 6A by playing our style of football and that’s not going to change for us.”

For most teams moving up, the biggest impact may be on the back end of the schedule after going through the physicality and grind of the first seven or so games of the season. 

Higley is the perfect case in point – last season they ended with Gilbert, Williams Field and Ironwood. This year, after opening the season against their rival Black Hawks, the Knights final three games are Perry, Hamilton and Highland. 

Comic (COVID) Relief

If you’re looking for a journey to follow, “Zone Read” suggests our favorite dual threat quarterback turned funny man, Daniel Bridge-Gadd. 

The Paradise Valley High star saw his college career at NAU cut short this past season due to an ACL injury. The former Washington Husky was expected to compete for the starting spot this spring with Case Cookus who’s trying to earn a roster spot with the New York Giants this summer.

Like many during COVID-19, Bridge-Gadd has seen his work come to an abrupt end.

“DBG” hasn’t been doing the ‘ole 9-to-5 desk job, he’s continuing to chase his dream of being a comedian.

“For about two months I wasn’t able to do any form of standup comedy,” Bridge-Gadd told the “Zone Read.” “Then recently, two days ago, I did my first show since the pandemic started. Even then people were still [uncertain] about going [with] the new social distancing rules in effect.”

If you haven’t checked out Bridge-Gadd’s act, I highly suggest you make it a point to see him perform in person – when you feel comfortable doing so.

Trust me, you won’t be disappointed. 

Fatherly Advice

Few AZHS players have seen their recruitment take off like Casteel wide receiver Isaiah Newcombe. The 6-foot-1, 175-pound three-sport athlete has already collected 14 offers and the list seems to keep growing every week.

Last season Newcombe caught 48 passes for 661 yards and seven touchdowns playing for his dad, Bobby — who knows a thing or two about being recruited by Power 5 schools.

Bobby Newcombe played both quarterback and wide receiver for the Huskers in the late 1990’s. He won a National Championship (1997), two Big 12 Championships (’97, ’99) and was an All Big-12 player in ’99.

Now father is helping son through the process as Isaiah ramps up for his senior season with the Colts.

“My dad told me to stay grounded and keep working hard on my craft,” Isaiah, who also plays basketball and runs track, said to the “Zone Read.”

Isaiah said he has been mostly running and lifting to keep himself active and in shape during the pandemic.

Brotherly Love

Last fall I brought you the story of brothers Trey and Porter Reynolds who are etching their own legacy in a family filled with athletes. The Queen Creek High defensive standouts compete not only on the field but at home, as well…which I’m sure has made quarantine life over the past 60 or so days quite entertaining in the Reynolds’ household.

“We have a rack and clean platform in our garage and a park right down the street that we run in every day,” Trey explained to the “Zone Read.” “The workouts have been great for us to get stronger together.”

— Trey Reynolds (@TreyReynoldsQC) April 6, 2020

As Trey continues to roll up the offers, “little” brother is doing his best to keep pace. 

“He’s a stud,” Trey said of Porter, who registered a team-high five sacks at defensive tackle last season as a freshman for the Bulldogs.

One thing’s certain, both will like be playing Power 5 football just like their dad, Paul, who balled alongside Pat Tillman at ASU in the mid-90’s. 

Like father, like son(s).