Zone Read: Showing Leadership, Overcoming Obstacles

The countdown is on as Arizona high school football (fingers crossed) appears ready for takeoff in about three weeks.

There’s no certainty with much of 2020 but let’s hope Friday night becomes a thing again this fall.

“Zone Read” took a long weekend for the holiday but it’s back so let’s do this.

US-89 X 2…X 4

COVID-19 has certainly thrown a curve ball to every Arizona high school football player and student-athlete in any sport but you’ll be hard-pressed to find a greater example of perseverance, dedication and leadership than Flagstaff senior defensive lineman Javon Tachoney.

Tochoney, a member of the Navajo Nation, has spent the past three yers living in Flag High’s on-campus dorms which are provided to students whose families live north of Flagstaff on one of the Indian reservations. 

“Parents are looking to give their child a better education that is provided off the reservation,” Tachoney explained to the “Zone Read.” “They are looking more into their child’s future and looking to get them into a more diverse environment.”

FHS was forced to close the dorms due to the pandemic but that hasn’t stopped Tachoney from working out with his Eagles’ teammates this summer as they prepare for their season opener against Cottonwood Mingus on October 2nd.

The 6-foot, 275-pounder loads up his truck and makes the 160-mile roundtrip drive on U.S. Route 89 from his home in Tuba City to Flagstaff and back for practice.

Oh, Tachoney usually makes the trek four times a week.

“It’s exciting to be doing this, I honestly enjoy it,” he said. “I get this feeling when I’m driving…I get in the moment and it reminds me of my moment in football, too.”

In some ways, he’s lucky. His car serves as not only transportation, but an opportunity – a handful of his Eagle teammates don’t have.

“Many of my friends and teammates are further [north] than my location [in Tuba City],” he explained. “Some kids live even deeper into the reservation.”

His day starts with on-line classes at 9:00A (Tuba City time) which last until around 3:30. Immediately following his Zoom schedule, he jumps in the car (with his favorite hype playlist) and makes the 90-minute drive to practice. After practice he returns to the reservation for a late dinner and homework before calling it a day. 

Making Tachoney’s story even more remarkable is the fact Tuba City and the neighboring reservations are on Mountain Daylight Time, while Flagstaff and the rest of Arizona is on Mountain Standard Time so he loses an hour every night when he leaves campus and drives home.

Through it all, he’s making the most of the opportunity and living in the moment.

“I’m just glad I have the chance to play, especially for my senior year,” he noted. 

Tachoney, who hopes to one day become a mechanic after finishing his higher education, said the school plans to re-open the dorms whenever in-class learning resumes, presumably by the middle of October as long as the numbers continue to improve in Flagstaff and the surrounding areas.

Talk about the ultimate sacrifice to simply be a small part of something much bigger.

Bravo, Javon Tachoney.

Playing the Weight-ing Game

Dante Haynesworth is certainly used to new surroundings.

For one reason or another, mostly family relocations to different parts of the Valley, Haynesworth has attended four schools (Brophy, Chaparral, Arcadia, Pinnacle) in the last three years.

The Pinnacle senior cornerback is now home for good in the north Valley and the lone returning defensive starter in the back half of Andrew Hurley’s defense.

Haynesworth doesn’t seem to be sweating the details.

“I think we’ll be just as good as we were last year,” he said to the “Zone Read.” “[We’ve] been grinding. I’ve seen huge strides from everybody across the board. Between speed, weight, technique – everyone is looking amazing right now.”

Haynesworth knows a thing or two about weight as few, if any, players in Arizona transformed their body during the pandemic the way he did.

In January he weighed 145 pounds. Now he’s up to around 175 thanks to consistent lifting, training and food.

Lots of food…

“I’m eating probably 3,000 calories for breakfast,” he noted. “I’m eating sandwiches throughout the day for lunch and then I eat two dinners. I eat one at around 6:00 and then one right before I go to bed. I have a pretty fast metabolism.”

β€” Dante Haynesworth (@DRH__12) September 4, 2020

Between the lines he’s benefited from practicing against high-end quarterbacks and skill players.

Iron sharpens iron.

“It seems like we always have a really good receiving core,” he explained. “We compete really hard in practice. We go at each other.”

His hard work both on and off the field definitely hasn’t gone unnoticed by Hurley.

“Dante is a phenomenal athlete but what makes him so special is his attention to detail in his technique and his desire to improve both mentally and physically. I watched countless videos of Dante doing footwork and speed work during the quarantine so I have no doubt that he is ready to be a senior leader in the secondary but for the defense, as well.”

Strap it up — the fun starts against neighborhood rival Horizon October 2nd. 

Bermuda Triangle

I can’t express to you how much I enjoyed my trip to Eastmark High School earlier this week.

There’s a lot to like about Scooter Molander’s young program which is about to go to varsity battle with freshmen and sophomores in a competitive, but manageable, 3A Central Division. 

The Firebirds’ campus is surrounded by perennial big-school football heavyweights Queen Creek, Williams Field and Desert Ridge.

This tweet caused some reaction in regards to the Firebirds’ roster size, considering their classification.

Let’s try, as difficult as it is for some, to please play nice on social media and not only celebrate this great game but the even greater kids playing it.

Is that too much to ask…especially this year?