Zone Read: Goodbye July

Arizona Sports News online

The 2019 Arizona high school football season starts in less than one month. 

While you ponder where exactly the “off-season” went, here’s this week’s “Zone Read.”

California Dreamin’…few Arizona high schools get to experience the same picturesque backdrop as Pinnacle has this week in southern California.

The Pioneers took a big jump last season going 11-2 and advancing to the 6A semi-finals and there’s plenty of senior stability returning at the top (Marcus Libman, Clay Zupke, Tosh Baker, Cade Horton, Shane Sunday, Adam Verbalaitis, Jack Hevener and a host of others), as well as some talented underclassmen.

The return of running back/free safety Matt Goodlow can’t be overstated. He will definitely make J.D. Johnson’s life better this fall. It’s also safe to say head coach Dana Zupke and his staff won’t exactly miss some of the on and off-the-field distractions the past couple years. 

I was happy to hear, through our “Zone Read” spies,  Pinnacle has taken some time to enjoy not only the cool weather but the San Diego beaches, as well.

‘Neer Nation could be on the verge of something special again this fall.

More Camp Life…Pinnacle’s nearby neighbors to the south are another intriguing team to watch in 2019. While Paradise Valley doesn’t have the sheer numbers of other 5A schools, they have plenty of talent with several players having multiple years of quality varsity experience. 

One of those is senior captain Caleb Diaz (58 catches, 766 yards, five touchdowns in 2018) who has drawn rave reviews from head coach Greg Davis this summer.

“Caleb has been working extremely hard this off-season,” Davis said to the “Zone Read” this week from the Trojans camp at Mogollon High School in Heber. “He is one of the most well-rounded athletes on our team [and] has taken his game to another level.”

Don’t expect Ben Finley and the Trojans’ offense, who scored 30 or more in six of their 10 games in 2018, to slow down one bit. 

Davis, along with so many other coaches in this state, have their priorities in line when it comes to balancing the wins/losses with what’s truly most important.

The schedule is more than manageable and PV gets both Horizon and Notre Dame Prep at home to end the regular season. 

Making The Move…one of the more electric high school players in recent memory is making a position change. After putting up video game numbers, both running and passing at Cienega High School, Jamarye Joiner found himself stuck behind Khalil Tate at the University of Arizona.

Earlier this week it was announced Joiner will be moving to wide receiver.

The 6-foot-2, 210-pounder saw limited action behind center last fall but kept his redshirt eligibility. A prep track standout as well, Joiner could develop into a nice option outside and potentially in gadget plays for Kevin Sumlin in the coming years.

Wildcat teammate and fellow Tucsonian Drew Dixon is also a wide receiver at UofA after seeing extensive time at quarterback at Sabino High.

Strength In Numbers…if you read this column with any consistency you’ve probably realized by now I’m not the biggest fan of overdone and, in my opinion, largely over sensationalized 7-on-7 tournaments. 

Give me team bonding away from the Valley at camp or simply a really big team-building lift session like we recently saw below at Hamilton with senior captain Finley Lecky flat-out bringing it.

Thankfully, the fake football season is over and the sweet sound of pads popping is just around the corner.

Until next week…