Zone Read: 7’s Season – What They’re Saying

Arizona Sports News online

An early Happy 4th of July weekend to each and every one of you.

“Zone Read” took a couple of weeks off to re-tool the playbook and sharpen some skills but we’re back and ready to roll as the beginning of the 2021 Arizona high school football season is closer than you think.

With most teams now officially on “summer break,” we decided to reach out to a number of head coaches around the state and get a self-scouting report on what they saw for their teams in competition, both skill players and big men, the past few months. 

They are listed alphabetically below.

Jake Barro – Casa Grande 

“We have done well at 7’s this summer. It’s just great to be back out there since last year we didn’t have any due to COVID-19. We use 7-on-7’s as a teaching tool and to give our kids a taste of competition before the season starts. A few guys who have done really well are quarterback Angel Flores, wide receiver Deandre Kelley, free safety Andon Diaz and linebacker Jake Sylvestre.”

Brian Cole – O’Connor

“I thought overall we had a very productive 7’s. For a team learning a new offense, we did some nice things. We have a quarterback battle but I feel like senior Jace Snyder performed best during 7’s. Other offensive standouts were senior slot receiver Jordan Covington and wide receiver Cole Schemel. Defensively, we were led by our two senior standouts Brandon Craddock and Brevin Czosnyka. We expect a lot of them this coming season. Other guys who had good 7’s defensively were seniors Jaden Jacobi and Jake Douglass.

“We have work to do but I was happy with the way we competed the past few weeks.”

Steve Decker – Sunrise Mountain

“After coming off a great season with 28 seniors, we had a lot of holes to fill. Offensively, we feel great with Hunter Kronengold leading the way at quarterback. 6’4, 180 pounds and a very accurate passer with a high football I.Q. [We have] Jonathan Hart at tight end and Micah Johnson coming back who will only be a junior and had a great season.

“Defensively was a big question with us losing three defensive backs. After our 7-on-7 tournaments, which we played 35 games, we feel our defensive backfield will be strong. Obviously, they need more experience, but athletically and how they picked up our schemes was very, very promising. Leading the way was free safety Elijah Portella and middle linebacker Darnell Stephen who are both returning starters for last year’s state championship team. Our big men and defensive linemen also looked good winning a tournament and had a lot of success throughout the summer.”

Jason Jewell – Brophy

“This was an interesting summer as far as 7’s are concerned because typically colleges have camps every weekend, but this year some didn’t take place. Plus, with the NCAA dead period ending, many kids would go to camps on the weekend and try to get on radars. So some weekends we had a full squad and other times, we didn’t. I feel, overall, we performed well. [I’m] happy with our progress.

“One player that really got better was wide receiver Carlos Dominguez. He competed very well and stepped up and played on both sides of the ball in some tournaments. One defensive player that looked good is 2024 defensive lineman Trey Markham. He has a bright future.”

Jose Lucero – St. Mary’s

“I felt our team performed very well this summer. We played some really quality opponents (Hamilton, Basha, Cactus, Yuma Catholic, Liberty) which made us get better each time. We got a chance to install and run our offense and defense which was great, especially considering last year we didn’t touch a football until July.

“Guys that really stood out this summer were senior quarterback Nick Martinez, senior wide receiver Anthony Pacheco, junior cornerback PJ Lewis, and junior linebacker David Galindo. Each of these kids really elevated their play this summer. I was proud of them and our entire group.

Chris McDonald – Basha

“It’s been a process. It’s been good. I’ve been pleased just from the improvement that we’ve made. As you know, we’ve got a lot of young kids and they’ve gotten a good taste of the physicality…I liked what I saw. We improved. We’ve got a lot of speed, obviously. But we really focused on technique and the kids got better. Just understanding that you’ve got to do the little things right. We ended our last tournament at UofA losing to Chandler in the championship by two points…it was good for our kids to see what you have to be at – what type of level you have to play at.”

Eric Rogers – Tucson Salpointe 

“Overall, I thought it was a productive summer. We never had our entire squad together for one particular event but it gave a lot of other guys the opportunities to step up. Dylan Dreis, one of our quarterbacks, had an unbelievable summer. He has grown another inch and is now 6’5 and 200 pounds. With some guys missing, he played tight end and wide receiver for us and really showed what kind of athlete he is. Michael Aguirre, another wide receiver, made some incredible catches all summer and showed that he is ready to compete at a high level. Cody Raetzman and Antonio Martinez played both sides of the ball all summer and were very productive.”

Travis Schureman – Queen Creek

“I felt our summer has been very successful. Kids got better every week. We are excited to get to camp in a few weeks.

“Kade Farrell has had a great spring and summer. He has done a great job of learning the defense. Daey Morales continues to compete and get better each day. Mack Taylor will play a big role on the offensive line this year. He’s had a great summer. Also, David Hicks has had a huge summer. He will help us at cornerback and wide receiver.”

Dana Zupke – Pinnacle

“I was happy with how we progressed. I thought we played fairly consistent all summer but early on we were playing well until we got into the elimination games. We had a couple of early exits in the first two tournaments so I challenged our guys to finish better. They responded with us winning the last two tournaments we were in.

“Zach Wren was impressive at quarterback. He got better in every tournament. I have a lot of confidence in him going into the season. Our receiving corps, led by Myles Libman and Duce Robinson were fantastic. Baylor Adams, Chris Cappellini and Jonah Pinder all had incredible contributions. Defensively, we made a lot of strides. We have a solid group of returning linebackers and our secondary is much improved, led by senior Ryan Meloche and Jadiem Birthwright. [I’m] really pleased with where we are at.”