Zone Read: No Tricks, Just Treats

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Bourguet’s Broncos

Life is moving fast for former Tucson Salpointe star quarterback, now Western Michigan Bronco, Treyson Bourguet. 

After leading the Lancers to two Open Division Playoff appearances, and the 5A State Championship Game last December, Bourguet is adjusting to college life on, and off, the field – 1,900 miles away from his home in Marana.

“Zone Read” caught up with Bourguet earlier this week.

Compare Kalamazoo, Michigan to Tucson, Arizona. “So, what I think is the coolest thing is, right now at this time of the year back in Tucson, the weather isn’t changing too much. But here, in Kalamazoo, there’s something cool with the trees where they change colors. They actually turn orange, so I get to experience a true fall.

“The people here really love football. So, when you’re winning, they’re really behind you, and when you’re not winning, they really want you to win. The environment at the games is awesome. The fan base is awesome. Something I take a lot of pride in is being a good role model so when we’re out doing community service at the elementary schools all around Kalamazoo, the kids all look up to you.”

Away from football, how are you enjoying your first semester of college? “I think going to a private school like Tucson Salpointe really helped me in the classroom [in college]. They set such high standards, they kept you striving for greatness and they wouldn’t let you settle for just being average. I definitely take pride in my grades and education. Just taking the responsibility to grow up away from home. Being away from home is tough, but it’s worth it. School is awesome. Football is amazing. God is great. Everything is good.”

On the field, you made your first college start last weekend against Miami Ohio. Was the plan initially for you to redshirt this season? “So, coming in during the summer, I wasn’t able to participate in spring ball. I was able to understand the basics of the playbook before I got here but I had no reps with the receivers, or the team in general. I wasn’t able to fully grasp the offense until a week or two into fall camp. I had a real strong showing at fall camp. But, the expectation was for me to redshirt. [The coaches] felt I would benefit from that redshirt year but we were at the point of the season where we needed a spark and the coaches looked at me for that. They gave me the opportunity and I took it.

“I took pride in, being a young quarterback, I didn’t want [my teammates] to look at me as a freshman, but look at me as a leader. I was doing everything I could to not only lead with my voice, but lead by action. I’m just trying to prove to these guys, when I’m under center, things are going to go a certain way. We’re not going to settle for average, we’re going to be great. I’m going to give my all every single play. We still want to be MAC champions, we still have that opportunity. We want to win out, we still have that opportunity.”

How were your nerves going into your first game, starting as a true freshman? “I wasn’t so nervous…there’s a difference between nervous and anxious. Nervous is when you don’t really know what the outcome is going to be like. Anxious is when you’re prepared. I had a really good week…the [coaching staff] got me so prepared that I really couldn’t sleep the night before. Just imagining the game, going through the plays in my head. It got me to the point, before I took the first snap in the game, I had taken that snap 10 times already.”

I know there’s a big jump from high school to college, in terms of the speed of the game and the athleticism, but do you feel playing against the top prep talent here in Arizona helped prepare you for this moment? “100 percent. Starting off sophomore year, playing a really good Pinnacle team in the Open. We had a really loaded squad but they had a bunch of dudes. Being a 16-year old and playing at that level. We went on to play Chandler and that team – the intensity and the passion that they play with. Those are the types of teams you see playing on Saturdays. Playing as a sophomore, it really helped me grow up. I’ve played tons and tons of guys who are now at the Division I level.”

I’m sure you had plenty of conversations with [older brother and current ASU quarterback] Trenton leading up to your first start. Take us inside some of the talks. “So, something Trenton does, before every single game I play, ever since I’ve been growing up, Trenton will text me his thoughts and what he sees on the other team. He just re-affirms that I’m meant to be there. I try to keep my head level and stay in the moment. He really helps me out with that. He constantly reminds me to take what the defense gives you, use my legs when I have to. He just told me to block out all the outside noise and understand you’re here for a reason. When you’re given an opportunity you have to take it and run with it, just like he did.”

Do any of your WMU teammates ask you about playing with Bijan Robinson in high school? “Oh, yeah! Every week when Bijan pops off for 150 yards and three touchdowns or whatever, they always ask me the same thing, ‘Did you actually used to hand off the ball to this guy? Was that guy really actually on your team?’ I always say, ‘Yep.’ I have to pull out pictures on my phone of us playing football together at like age 12 in the backyard or at the park.”

Four Thoughts For Friday

The southeast Valley is again the grand stage for Arizona high school football this week as Chandler hosts Basha in a game which will be televised nationally on ESPNU.

For the unbeaten Wolves it’s an opportunity to retain their top Open Division ranking, while 6-1 Basha braces for their third consecutive heavyweight fight after falling to Liberty and coming back to beat Hamilton on a late-game field goal.

Zach Alvira from the East Valley Tribune, and Sports360AZ, always has his finger on the pulse, so we figured it’d be a perfect time to pick his brain on four thoughts heading into Friday.

1. Is this, without question, Chris McDonald’s best team ever at Basha? If so, what makes this particular squad so elite? “I would have to say it is. It’s very similar to last year’s team, with the addition of key transfers. But all of those players from last season are a year older, more mature and have improved this offseason. At every position you can find a player with star potential. On paper, this team is ridiculous with pure talent.”

2. No one has been able to stop Ca’lil Valentine this year. He’s already over 1,000 rushing yards and we’re still in October. What is the key to Basha containing this incredibly talented junior back? This will come down to Basha’s linebackers. It’s an incredibly talented group led by senior and Boise State commit Wyatt Milkovich, but they’ve struggled at times defending the run. Especially against a good offensive line like Hamilton’s and what they will face this week with Chandler. Milkovich and his crew, along with the defensive line, have to stay aggressive and stick to their assignments to close off any potential running lanes. If they don’t, Valentine might have another big performance.”

3. The Bears are no stranger to big games, but do you feel the grind of playing Liberty and Hamilton leading up to this game will catch up to a team which isn’t particularly deep? “If Basha would’ve lost last week to Hamilton, I would say yes. However, the way the Bears were able to come back to win that game against the Huskies has to give them motivation. They know their schedule is brutal. It’s what they had to have in order to be considered a legitimate Open Division contender. The Liberty game was a massive slip up for this team. But with their ability to come back from a 23-9 deficit to win over a good Hamilton squad, they can’t be counted out no matter what. Depth could become a factor if injuries come into play. Obviously, we hope that isn’t the case. “

4. While both teams’ skill players get plenty of attention, and deservedly so, it should be noted both are much-improved up front in 2022. Do you expect this game to be decided in the trenches, regardless of which one comes out on top? “I absolutely believe the biggest matchup is Chandler’s offensive line against Basha’s defensive line and vice versa. These are two teams with really good players in the trenches who can change the outcome of the game in a heartbeat. Whichever team is more dominant up front physically will win on Friday.”

Small School Star

“Zone Read” has been keeping close tabs on Tyson Buckley all season.

You may not be familiar with the name but the 6-foot-3, 240-pound quarterback has led Camp Verde High to an 8-1 record heading into their big regular season finale Friday at 7-3 Cortez. 

Buckley’s size, and stats (2,158 yards, 37 touchdowns, just six interceptions in just seven games due to two forfeits), are just as jaw-dropping as his journey to Camp Verde.

After playing his freshman season at Flagstaff High, Buckley, a true pocket passer, landed 55 miles south down Interstate-17 in Camp Verde, a rural town of around 12,000, which sits on the east side of the Verde Valley. 

The Buckley name is synonomous with athletic success at Camp Verde. Tyson’s father, John, was a standout quarterback at CV before playing collegiately at NAU. Now father is calling plays for son as John serves as the Cowboys’ offensive coordinator.  

Bookmark the name, especially considering Buckley still has a full year to play next fall.

The numbers could be even bigger in 2023.