Zone Read: Many Long Weeks

Arizona Sports News online

Josh Weeks’ Story

If you’re familiar with the Arizona high school football scene over the last decade or so, you know the name Josh Weeks.

A standout wide receiver who helped lead Show Low High School to the 2010-2011 3A State Championship, Weeks seemingly had his college future in the palm of his hand until, suddenly, he didn’t. 

Growing up in the tight-knit community tucked away in the White Mountains, Weeks and his good friends found football at an early age. As they grew together, so did their skills on the field, culminating in points…and wins…by the bunches.

“We ran the spread and we threw about 90 percent of the time,” Weeks said to the “Zone Read” reminiscing back to his high schools days. “Obviously, being in 3A we didn’t have the biggest o-line but we did have speed and we used it to our advantage. We just threw it around the yard. It was exciting. It was fun.”

So much fun Brigham Young University, the same school several of his family members attended and played for, came calling with a full ride offer for the then 6-foot-3, 205-pound junior shortly after Show Low beat rival Blue Ridge for the title. 

That’s when Weeks’ college rollercoaster ride started.

“A lot of people don’t really know the full story,” he explained. “[It] kind of looked like I just fell off the face of the earth a little bit.” 

After graduating in 2012, Weeks went on his two-year LDS mission before enrolling at BYU in January of 2015. He saw limited action his true freshman season playing for then head coach Bronco Mendenhall who would leave for Virginia after the ’15 season.

The following spring Weeks bulked up to 220 pounds and was moved to tight end where the new staff envisioned him playing in the slot and taking advantage of his size, and receiver background, against slower linebackers – much like former BYU great and NFL tight end Dennis Pitta.

As his college football life stabilized, off the field Weeks ran into problems.

“I had gotten married, married my wife,” Weeks said dating back to his sophomore year at BYU. “There was an ex-girlfriend who basically sought out my destruction. It’s not too hard to get somebody in trouble at BYU. She went to the dean of the university and basically sold a bunch of lies about me.”

As university and local authorities investigated, it became a “he said, she said” situation with the alleged victim “lawyering up early” after getting a stalking injunction, according to Weeks. 

During the case, Weeks and his family entered a local ice cream shop the victim had worked in, thus violating the stalking injunction, although he insists she wasn’t there at the time and there was “no malice and no intent to do anything.”

Shortly after leaving the establishment, Weeks was arrested at his house by Provo police and taken to jail. 

“Unfortunately, they bought her word over mine,” he said. “It was very unfortunate how things went down. I wasn’t given a fair trial, due process. At the end of the day they kicked me off the team and expelled me from the university.”

Weeks was crushed by BYU’s decision.

“They were the only school I talked to. The only camps I attended. The only offer I got. I really had no Plan B. Obviously, the things that were claimed about me were untrue but I’m responsible for the people I surrounded myself with. I got into a bad relationship and got mixed up with the wrong crowd at one point.”

As one door closed, another one would open…eventually – at the University of at Texas El Paso. 

“Nobody really wanted to recruit me at the time,” Weeks noted following his time working through his legal issues in Provo. “I sent emails out to every program in the county. Division I. FBS. FCS. I just needed an opportunity. I just needed a chance.”

At the time, Idaho State was the only school to show interest. Weeks and his wife packed up a U-Haul, moved to Pocatello, and leased an apartment. Two weeks later, the ISU athletic director informed Weeks he was no longer welcome in the football program and at the school.

He sent out more mass emails to schools all over the country. Marshall and UTEP expressed interest and Weeks eventually picked the Miners, mostly due to El Paso’s six-hour proximity to Valley.

Upon arriving in west Texas, Weeks found comfort in the Miners’ program, specifically being surrounded by other “bounce back” players. a welcoming then head coach Sean Kugler (now Arizona Cardinals offensive line coach), and tight ends coach Brian Natkin – who was an All-American tight end at UTEP in the early 2000’s.

In 2017, UTEP went 0-12 and fired their entire staff. In the third game of that season, Weeks, now 6-foot-3, 250 pounds, broke his foot and missed eight weeks. He played the 2018 season under new head coach Dana Dimel but felt it was time for another change.

In 2019, with his first college degree in hand, Weeks grad-transferred to Stephen F. Austin in Nacogdoches, Texas to play for his former tight ends coach who was let go by UTEP. In the fourth game, he blew out his knee against Nicholls State, ending his long, windy, college playing career.

In September of 2019 he left Texas with his wife, young family, two college degrees (in four years) and headed back to Arizona with his future, again, staring him in the face. 

He connected with his former coach at Show Low, Randy Ricedorff, who encouraged him to help out with the offense at American Leadership Academy Gilbert North last fall. Ricedorff left Show Low to become ALA’s head coach in 2017. 

This off-season Weeks was looking to spread his coaching wings at a bigger program in the Valley.

So he reached out to Hamilton.

“I just wanted to be a part of a program that was run more like a college program because that’s what I know,” he said. “I thought, ‘Hey, why not be a part of the best? The best of the best.’ It was just a shot in the dark…it’s been awesome. Being a part of Hamilton – it’s special.”

Weeks is working with Hamilton’s freshmen team, teaching and mentoring the outside and inside receivers who, one day, hope to fulfill their dreams of playing at the next level, much like Weeks did.

“There are kids who have the talent and the natural ability to play [in college],” he explained. “I kind of feel honored to be a part of that process. It’s really cool to see them grow and mature. My role now is to do my best to prepare them for that level.”

When he’s not coaching, Weeks works at his family’s investment company but still feels he has some game left in his 28 year-old body. 

“For me, the story’s not over yet,” Weeks said without hesitation. “I still have plans to try my luck at the next level. I know the NFL is a long shot at this point but still some type of professional league. My wife and my family are still pushing me.”

Can’t wait for the next chapter, Josh.

Gael Force Wind Expected

I think it’s safe to say Hamilton is “back,” but it never hurts to measure your program against another elite team not named Saguaro or the one located 3.8 miles north of Huskies’ campus on Arizona Avenue.

Enter Bishop Gorman High School located just west of the 215 freeway in Las Vegas.

Throw in an national audience on ESPNU and what is expected to be a full house at Jerry Loper Stadium and Friday night will be rocking with these two heavyweights standing toe-to-toe on a warm, mid-September night in the southeast Valley.

The Gaels present matchup problems pretty much…everywhere.

“Big, fast, very talented,” Hamilton head coach Mike Zdebski said to the “Zone Read” earlier this week. “They have some of the fastest kids in the country. They’re very physical. They do a lot schematically-wise. They’re very difficult to prepare for in a short period of time.”

Although Zdebski and his staff have been preparing and installing for Gorman for quite some time, Max Prep’s seventh-ranked team in the country has been mixing up their defensive looks in their 3-0 start with wins over St. Louis (HI), Central (FL), and Lone Peak (UT).

— Eric Sorenson (@EricSports360AZ) September 15, 2021

It also presents a unique challenge for senior quarterback, and recent West Virginia commit, Nicco Marchiol who enters this season more polished and experienced in his second year starting in Zdebski’s offense.

“They have a really fast defense,” he explained to the “Zone Read.”  “They’re a team that’s not going to make very many mistakes…I have to up my game a little bit and out-think guys and just do what a good quarterback does. It’s going to be a good test for us. But I have full faith in my guys that they’re going to go up and make the plays they need to. We’re prepared I think. We’re ready to go.”

The Gaels’ defense features Nevada’s top three 2022 prospects according to 247 Sports in end Cyrus Moss, safety Zion Branch, and cornerback Fabian Ross. Stanford commit linebacker Benjamin Hudson is another player to watch on Friday, along with junior cornerback Justyn Rhett.

And that’s just one side of the ball.

Zdebski expects his team to be up for the challenge.

“If you’re prepared, there is no pressure,” he said. “The kids know it. A game like this…there are cameras everywhere. A lot of the kids in the program, this is their third time (on national tv). Everything is going to be scrutinized more because there are more people watching it. But all in all, it’s a great thing to be in this situation.”

Don’t be surprised to see a few new offensive wrinkles from Hamilton, as well.

Arizona teams are 4-3 against Bishop Gorman dating back 2008 according to Max Preps.

A Valley native, Eric has had a passion for the Arizona sports scene since an early age. He has covered some of the biggest events including Super Bowls, national championships and the NBA and MLB playoffs in his near 20 years in local media.