Zone Read: Spring Has Sprung

Arizona Sports News online

Football in his Blood

Two years ago life was moving fast for Desert Edge sophomore defensive back Jonathan Kamara.

With his parents back in his home land of Africa, Kamara’s family chose to relocate Jonathan, and his sister, from Philadelphia, where he was living since age seven, to the southwest Valley with his aunt and uncle.  

Shortly after moving from the City of Brotherly Love to the Valley of the Sun, Kamara was introduced to the game he would quickly fall in love with.

“It was right in the middle of COVID and I just came out for freshman training,” Kamara said to the “Zone Read.” “Everything just sort of took off from there. I’ve been working really hard since freshman year and it’s good to see that it’s starting to pay off. I’m getting stronger and faster.”

The 6-foot-2, 185-pounder saw limited playing time last fall behind regulars Breshaun Brown and Cam Foster, but gained valuable reps in practice competing against arguably Desert Edge’s best quarterback ever, Kansas State signee, Adryan Lara.

Let’s just say, it was often baptism by fire on the DE practice fields.

“He got me a bunch of times,” Kamara said with a smile. “He tried to make me better and made our whole team better. Adryan was an amazing quarterback. It was hard figuring him out.”

What hasn’t been hard to figure out is Kamara’s work ethic since arriving on the Goodyear campus before his freshman year.

“Jonathan’s growth from coming in as a freshman having never played the game of football, to where he is today is truly incredible and a testament to his work ethic, and drive,” Desert Edge co-head coach Mark Carter explained to the “Zone Read.” “Looking at him today, you would never know that he was a small, shy freshman just a year and a half ago. He is such a joy to coach.”

Part of Jonathan’s quick adaptation to the game and natural physical gifts likely come from his second cousin, New Orleans Saints five-time, Pro Bowl running back, Alvin Kamara. 

Although he has yet to formally meet his famous namesake, people in and around the Desert Edge football program quickly inquired about the two being related.

Kamara, who holds a 3.4 GPA, and is running track this spring, is focused on making big strides between the white lines this off-season ramping up to the fall, and their season opener against Cactus Shadows on September 2nd.

“John is a great young man,” DE co-head coach Marcus Carter said to the “Zone Read.” “All he does is work. He rides his bike to school in any weather. All he wants to do is be a Scorpion and be great. He loves his teammates and we’re so lucky to have him.”

The County Crossover: Pima

With spring football ramping up “Zone Read” decided to reach out to some smart folks around the state for a new April feature we’ll call “The County Crossover.” The purpose will be to provide a big-picture look at a few storylines, players, and possible trends to follow as we get closer to the 2022 season this fall.

Our first stop is southern Arizona, and Pima County, where Tucson Star reporter and ESPN Radio Tucson afternoon drive host Justin Spears was nice enough to pull back the curtain on what to watch in the Old Pueblo.

Let’s start at Salpointe where Eric Rogers has picked up where Dennis Bene left off. Biggest question for me is at quarterback with Treyson Bourguet moving on to Western Michigan. Who do you see stepping in this spring? “As of now, Salpointe Catholic could turn to senior quarterback Fredo Sotelo, a 5-foot-11, 175-pound senior who threw just three passes for the Lancers as a junior. With Bourguet and Dylan Dreis both graduating, he looks like the next guy in line for Salpointe Catholic.”

Staying with the Lancers, do you feel, on paper, they’re clearly still the top team in Tucson? “Until proven otherwise, Salpointe Catholic will always be the standard of high school football in Southern Arizona. The Lancers have Division I prospects on both sides of the line such as offensive lineman Luis Cordova and edge rusher Elijah Rushing, who’s recently emerged as the next high-profile recruit to come out of Tucson. Not only does Salpointe Catholic have legitimate college prospects, but they’re on the offensive and defensive line. The growing pains of incorporating new skill players will take care of itself by the end of the regular season.”

— Elijah Rushing (@elijah_rushing) April 2, 2022

How good can Jack Endean be by the time he’s done at Tanque Verde? “He’s another elite recruiting prospect from Tucson, and if he can stay healthy and earn a ton of reps at Tanque Verde, which he will, then he could be the best offensive line that the hometown Wildcats will regret not landing. Oklahoma State got a good one.”

Long-time Salpointe assistant coach Al Alexander takes over at Sahuaro. The Cougars have had quite a bit of success in the past but slipped to 1-8 last year. Does Coach Al have the talent in place to flip this script this fall? “This is a tough one, because the pandemic hurt the Cougars. Players were either in protocols, struggled in the classroom and became ineligible, or had a difficult time adjusting to the new — but brief — norm. Al has his work cut out for him, but the east side of Tucson breeds athletes. The challenging part for Al will be corralling kids to stay and play for Sahuaro rather than going to nearby Sabino or the up-and-coming Mica Mountain Thunderbolts.”

Lastly, do feel this could be a big breakout season for massive 2024 Canyon Del Oro lineman Sa’Kylee Woodard? “He’s had one full season in the weight room and earned significant reps as a true freshman, which very seldom happens. Woodard’s body continues to transform and the next two years will be interesting to watch, because we could be talking about him as the next Bijan Robinson-level prospect from Tucson. The type to have five stars next to his name. He’s that big-time.”