2020 Friday Night Rewind: Week Four

It’s hard to believe we’re at the halfway point (for some teams) of the 2020 high school football season here in Arizona.

Friday I was in Scottsdale for the Open Division rematch marquee game of the week between Hamilton and host Saguaro.

Here are a few takeaways from that heavyweight fight and a few other things which caught my attention in Week Four.

Dogs Beat Cats

Ya’ know, I really wish these teams played in early or mid-November instead of now.

The visiting Huskies survived 13-7 but it wasn’t the most esthetically pleasing game for the nation who watched on ESPN2. Hamilton’s lack of discipline was evident from the opening quarter. Mike Zdebski’s team finished with double digit penalties, several for offsides, false starts or personal fouls.

As for Saguaro (2-1), Jason Mohns’ squad is still trying to find the secret sauce with their two-quarterback system and next week SagU will be getting a slew of impact transfers up front and at skill positions which will bring valuable and much-needed depth on both sides of the ball.

I’m ALL for 6:00 kickoffs and would love to see the AIA explore new start times, even 6:30 would be perfect – especially this time of year.

It was interesting watching Hamilton’s celebration following the hard-fought win. Assistant coaches from both sides needed to be restrained as the jawing got more and more heated before security stepped in on the field and the teams eventually peeled off to their respective end zones. This isn’t a great look for either team but not surprising considering the build up, in-game chatter and expectations for both of these power programs who have numerous state championships in their trophy cases.

It was Saguaro’s first home loss to an in-state opponent dating back to 2015 against Pinnacle. That win-streak stretched 28 games…until Friday.

The Difference Maker 

Saguaro’s special teams had no answer for stud sophomore cornerback Cole Martin who consistently flipped field position on punt returns, setting up 10 of the Huskies’ 13 points with his sweet feet and shifty moves in traffic.

In a close game which featured two dynamic returners in Martin and Saguaro junior Javen Jacobs (who returned a punt for the Cats’ only touchdown), the sophmore’s big plays were just enough to help Hamilton improve to 3-0 after their game last week against Chaparral was canceled.

“Fun fact, I plan nothing before the punt return,” Martin said after the game with a smile when asked about his approach to returning. “It’s just instinct. I don’t plan it at all…it’s just a go. They let me control where I want to go.”

“I feel it,” he continued when asked if he knew his returns would be big plays. “It’s just that feeling you get.”

The four-star athlete showed why he already has close to 20 scholarship offers.

Monday’s Evolution

Per usual #SagU’s got some dudes, too.

The player who flashed most for me was 6-foot-4, 240-pound junior defensive end Tristan Monday who a regular in the Hamilton backfield the entire game, while also playing tight end on an unseasonably warm night in Scottsdale.

“The kid’s got a set of skills, you knew he was going to be a guy,” Saguaro defensive line coach Kyle Caldwell said shortly after the game. “He reminds me a lot of myself in terms of his football tenacity, wanting to make plays and having a great motor.”

That’s high praise considering Caldwell was the Arizona Gatorade Player of the Year back in 2003 and is one of the most decorated players ever to play for the Sabercats.

Monday, who led SHS in sacks as a sophomore in 2019, could eventually play linebacker at the next level but, for now, he fits just fine at defensive end.

“For us, we love him up front because of that motor,” Caldwell continued. “He has the ability to hold his own off the edge. He’s a dude.”

Indeed he is.

Three and Out

Three scores which caught my attention from Week Three.

1. Williams Field knocks off previously unbeaten Casteel 31-28.

The Colts, now 3-1, had been living right with their three wins over Boulder Creek, Higley and Queen Creek by a combined seven points.

As for Williams Field, despite being just 2-2, Steve Campbell’s team will get a handful of impact transfers eligible this week and the back half od the Black Hawks’ schedule is far more forgiving than the first half which included Campo Verde, Queen Creek, Centennial and Casteel who are a combined 10-5 this season.

2. O’Connor beats previously unbeaten Shadow Ridge.

The Eagles are now 2-2 but both of their losses were to unbeaten and possible Open Division teams Desert Edge and Highland. 

Next week it’s Boulder Creek who will make the short drive down the I-17 from Anthem.

3. St. Mary’s handles Thunderbird 20-7.

Ok, I see you Jose Lucero. After opening the season with a lopsided loss to ALA Queen Creek, the Knights have rolled off three-straight wins and have allowed just 19 points over that stretch.

Running back Liam Phelan is off to a tremendous start for St. Mary’s who needs just one more win to equal their total from last fall.