Zone Read: Clear Up The Chaos

Arizona Sports News online

Hope everyone’s week is going well and I apologize this is coming to you a day late. No #FridayNight360AZ game for me this week as I’ll be taking a quick trip back to my alma mater to watch some Big 12 football in Fort Worth, Texas.

With that, let’s get into this week’s “Zone Read.”

Good For the Game

If you’ve been reading this notes column over the last few weeks you know I’ve had a few issues with the Open Division (keep reading for more on that) but no one can argue The Open 8 has been, to this point, wonderful for Arizona high school football. There is a “buzz” about who gets in, who gets left, if anyone can beat Chandler and several other storylines we didn’t have in the past.

If you are a fan of prep football in our great state, you want to see Saguaro get a shot at the Wolves or if Richard Taylor can get Centennial another championship in the dominating fashion he’s shown in recent years.

If the Open Division started tonight, the left side of the bracket would match Chandler against an improving Higley and Pinnacle taking on 4A dynasty #SagU.

Uh, yes please. 

I also feel the 4A, 5A and 6A playoffs will have intrigue and certainly closer early round games–something we’ve rarely seen in the past. Much can change over the next week (two games), so buckle up and get ready for a wild ride next month.

Clear Up the Chaos

One of the biggest flaws (and maybe for some, advantages) of the Open Division is nobody is quite sure how the “computers” work. Since this entire concept is still in its infancy stage, no one is able to reference past trends about the dynamics surrounding the eight teams selected.

One head coach spoke off the record about his frustration in attempting to piece together the selection format puzzle.

“I wish I knew what all goes into this format that we go by,” he said to the “Zone Read.” “It’s like playing a board game and not knowing the rules to the game you are playing. It’s crazy to me. I don’t understand why the AIA can’t say, ‘here is the formula.’

“Whether we understand it or not, we at least know it. To this point I haven’t met anyone, coach or AD, that can tell me what the formula is. I don’t believe that is right.”

Coming In Waves 

In less than one week talented Queen Creek junior strong safety/wide receiver Hunter Barth went from zero offer to four.

— Hunter Barth (@hunter_barth_) October 20, 2019

Oh, did we fail to mention all five came from Power 5 programs, headlined by #FightOn pictured above?

“They’ve been talking to me for a while,” Barth said to Andrew Luberda at about the SC offer. “I was just extremely excited. I immediately thanked the coaches…I love it at USC. It’s amazing there…I’m excited about what’s to come.”

We’ve seen in the past a player’s first offer can quickly multiply and Barth’s was no different. Iowa State, Duke and, most recently, Washington State round out his list. 

Also doesn’t hurt he’s a three-sport standout (football, basketball, track) with a 4.5 GPA.

Big things coming, Hunter.

Mountain Men

Quietly Sunrise Mountain is having another nice season under head coach Steve Decker. 

The Mustangs lost a slew of talent last season, most notably quarterback Keegan Freid, but SMHS (6-2) rides a four-game win streak into their game Friday at Apollo before hosting Centennial to end the regular season.

Alexander Gianola has played extremely well behind center (32 total touchdowns, six interceptions). Fellow senior Nathan Duran leads Sunrise in catches (32), yards (453) and touchdown receptions (nine).

Defensively, the Mustangs haven’t allowed more than 14 points in their four-game streak after surrendering 41 and 50 in back-to-back September losses to Liberty and Gilbert.