Zone Read: Two Weeks Left

Arizona Sports News online

Smell that? 

Yep, the playoffs are coming as teams position themselves for the stretch run with just two weeks left in the regular season. It’s been a great ride in 2018 and the best is yet to come. Please continue to use the #FridayNight360AZ hashtag on all your social platforms for the remainder of the season so we can help keep the entire state in the loop on what’s happening on Friday nights.

Here’s this week’s ‘Zone Read.’ Let’s go!

Big Gain Hunter

If you’re looking for the most explosive running back in the state, it would difficult to leave Peoria’s Juwaun Price out of the conversation.

The 7-1 Panthers have leaned heavily on their senior stud who’s averaging close to 14 yards per carry (yikes!) and has paced an offense that has averaged just under 41 points through the first eight games.

“Price is explosive,” Recruiting Expert Jason Jewell told the ‘Zone Read.’ “Peoria has had some great backs over the years and he is going to fall right in line with those guys. He has legit track times, good enough size and plenty of productivity.” 

The kid can go and if you don’t believe me, check this out. Price already has offers from NAU and Army and could be one of those under-the-radar stars who emerges with more college options as we get closer to the end of the year.

Hail to the Victors!

Ok, this may be a bit premature but Salpointe Catholic junior cornerback/safety/wide receiver/punt returner/you name it Lathan Ransom certainly liked what he saw from his recent Michigan visit.

“It was a blast,” Ransom, who is being recruited as a safety to UM, said to the ‘Zone Read’ this week. “Their facilities and fan base [are] on a whole other level. Meeting Coach [Jim] Harbaugh was definitely a cool experience.”

The tall, long athlete who I documented earlier this season is up to 15 offers after he added another Big 10 school to the list this week.

Rush To Judgement

Even in a loss, I enjoyed watching the Paradise Honors offense do what they do which is: run the ball…a lot. Duane Brown’s team, who hosts 6-2 Yuma Catholic, are paced by bruising running back Nathaniel Smith, who at 6-foot and 220 pounds, is quite a load for opposing 3A defenses.

Friday against 3A Metro West-leading Valley Christian, the junior rolled up 226 yards on 35 carries. Incredibly, that ranks as only his third-highest workload of the season.

Smith, who rushed for close to 1200 yards last season as a sophomore, has a chance to eclipse 2000 this month and will be a player to watch in 2019 for the Panthers.   

Small Schools, Big Game

My good friend Ralph Amsden from who also chronicles incredible stories for us (most recently this one), alerted me 7-1 North Point Prep is hosting 7-2 Antelope is a big 2A clash in the west Valley.

What’s unique about this matchup is Antelope hasn’t made the playoffs since 2008 and North Pointe has never had a winning record before this season.

Both teams have been stingy defensively, especially the visitors from Wellton, who have allowed seven or fewer points six times so far this fall. 

Please, Stop

Sometimes I get exposed to the less-flattering side of high school football in some way, shape or form and it’s usually from parents.

Yes, I understand your son is an excellent player who maybe hasn’t gotten as much college interest (yet) as you had hoped but taking the time to contact myself or anyone on our staff with a resume of little Johnny’s senior stats isn’t always the best approach, either.

Look, I love what I do and the coaches, players and parents I’ve met along this journey have been, for the most part, incredible but pounding the podium for your kid isn’t always the best way to get what you’re looking for.