“Zone Read” has never been a fan of April fool’s shenanigans so we’re not here to trick, simply treat you.
The Arizona high school football world continues to evolve in a number of ways so let’s get into what’s on the top of my mind this week.
Back to the Buffs
There wasn’t much Darnell Autry couldn’t do during his high school and college career, now the Tempe High legend is back in the fold at his alma mater.
— Chandler Hovik (@CoachHovik) March 2, 2021
Hovik noted Central and the rest of the Phoenix Union schools are still following all the COVID protocols to ensure student-athletes can compete in track and the other spring sports.
“I know it’s a breath of fresh air for everyone in Phoenix Union to be back in person and to be able to get out of the house and compete,” he said.
Speaking of Central
How about the sports season for former Bobcat Eric Lira?
MESQUITE’S 2-POINT TRY IS SUCCESSFUL‼️@ty_thompson7 rolls out right and throws a 50/50 jump ball back side to @ericlira01 who hauls in the pass between two defenders. Mesquite leads 39-38 with 11 seconds left @AZHSFB @MesquiteAthDept @DSArivals @Rivals @DuckSports pic.twitter.com/Lyw1w9qwer
— Cody Cameron (@CodyTCameron) December 12, 2020
After the senior transfer wide receiver helped lead Mesquite to back-to-back 4A State Championships, the multi-sport athlete finished sixth in the state in assists (6.7 per game) for the 12-6 Wildcats who advanced to the playoffs before falling to Coconino.
The 5’11 point guard also chipped in 7.5 points, 3.8 rebounds and was second on the team in steals (2.5).
— SMSU Football (@SMSUfootball) February 3, 2021
The three-sport athlete, who also runs track, will continue his academic and football career at Southwest Minnesota State starting this fall.
Fresh Faces in New Places
While the news last fall wasn’t quite as bleak for Tucson Unified as it was the two Valley districts listed above, 2020 was certainly a year of football hardhip in southern Arizona for the public schools.
Nearly every school in the greater Tucson area played less than half their normal 10-game regular season schedule due to COVID-19 resrictions as numbers spiked throughout last summer and into the fall.
One school which saw a great opportunity for success fall by the wayside was Canyon del Oro.
The Dorados featured a number of experienced seniors in the fold, most notably graduating three-star running back recruit Stevie Rocker who’s keeping it local for college.
— 𝓈𝓉𝑒𝓋𝒾𝑒 𝓇𝑜𝒸𝓀𝑒𝓇 𝒿𝓇🌵 (@Srocker6) July 17, 2020
CDO finished their abbreviated ’20 campaign 3-1 and are now in the process of figuring out who will play where next season.
Head coach Dusty Peace sees it as an opportunity for development.
“This is going to be an exciting year because we have a lot of competition going on,” he said to the “Zone Read.” “Almost every position will involve competition so it will be exciting and help us grow.”
Some returning players Peace hopes elevate a mostly green roster include Carter Mitchell, wide receiver/cornerback Daylon Beck, linemen Donavan Rodriguez ,and massive 6-foot-4, 295-pound sophomore-to-be offensive/defensive tackle Sa’Kylee Woodard.
— Sa’Kylee Woodard (@SWoodard55) March 27, 2021
So far, Peace likes what he sees from the group.
“We feel we have the tools to be just as good or better of a team, we will just be young and new,” he continued. “We have some of the most talented young players we have ever had in the program but it’s like we didn’t play football last year…we have to get them back on track to becoming a great team.”