We are off and we running right into this 2021 AZHS football season.
Despite being out of town for the holiday weekend, “Zone Read” got all the feels following the games, stories, and reactions right here on Sports360AZ.com.
With big school Week One in the books, let’s look ahead to a few matchups that caught my eye for this week.
What to Watch For
Chaparral @ Desert Mountain – I didn’t find Queen Creek’s win over Chap as surprising as many simply because, despite having two of the best players in the state in seniors Anthony Lucas and Brayten Silbor, the defending 6A State Champi0ns lost a ton of experienced starters at key positions, most notably on the offensive line and at wide receiver. QC played keep away through their run game, tallying 312 yards on the ground and four touchdowns. Payton Barlow had over half of those (19 carries, 185 yards, 9.7 per attempt.)
The impressive, slow build at Desert Mountain under defensive wizard Conrad Hamilton continues in north Scottsdale. The Wolves whacked Gilbert 34-7 in Week One and look every bit the part after going 3-1 in the shortened region play last season. Senior running back Zack Kilburg will get plenty of touches as the Wolves look to make a statement against their Scottsdale neighbors to the west.
Sunrise Mountain @ Horizon – Speaking of state champions, Steve Decker’s Mustangs proved unwelcoming hosts blowing out a rebuilding Tucson Cienega 49-6 last week. Per usual, Sunrise has skill talent for senior quarterback Hunter Kronengold – a Saguaro transfer who got game action last year in Decker’s spread attack. Rex Underhill, Micah Johnson, and Braden Harvey can all stretch defenses with their burst. The tempo-setter defensively is senior Darnell Stephens who had two tackles for loss against Cienega.
— Andy Litten (@litten_andy) September 4, 2021
First-year Horizon head coach Andy Litten seems to have brought the winning formula from one Huskies’ program to another. The former Hamilton High offensive coordinator under Mike Zdebski ushered in a new era defeating Pinnacle for the first time in school history, a 17-16 thriller over the Pioneers. Credit former coach Ty Wisdom for leaving far more for Litten and his staff to work with than when he arrived in 2016. It will be interesting to watch if Horizon can neutralize another high-powered offense on Friday.
ALA Queen Creek @ Saguaro – The BYU coaching combination of head coach Ty Detmer and offensive coordinator Max Hall lifted the lid on the season dropping 52 on Poston Butte but this week presents a whole different animal – specifically, a Sabercat. ALA QC quarterback Logan Hubler looks the part again after going a cool 25-30 for 331 yards with five touchdowns and no interceptions in Week One. His favorite target against Poston was junior Ryan Meza (five catches, 137 yards, three touchdowns).
— Sabercat Nation (@Saguaro_HS) September 4, 2021
Saguaro’s hashtag this season is #BTB (Burn the Boats). #SagU bullied around McClintock 63-0 last week and features, per usual, speed and talent on both sides of the ball. The one-two punch in the backfield with thunder (Jaedon Matthews) and lightning (Javen Jacobs) is something Jason Mohns’ squad hasn’t had in quite some time.
Your New PV QB
In Paradise Valley’s win over North Canyon, QB Jaiden McDaniel rushed for 285 yard and a school record 6 TDs. Just a junior
— Richard Obert (@azc_obert) September 4, 2021
Worth the Wait
— Kurt Warner (@kurt13warner) September 7, 2021