Zone Read: Let the Camps Begin

Arizona Sports News online

Pick 4

When hard work meets opportunity, good things usually happen.

Last Sunday in downtown Phoenix, former Chandler High star Kyree Woods etched his name in the Indoor Football League record books, while leading the Arizona Rattlers back to the IFL Western Conference Championship.

With a league-high 22 pass breakups, and a team-high six interceptions, you could say the rookie is a fast learner to the indoor game.

His success doesn’t come as any surprise to the coach who helped mold him into the player, and person, he is today.

“Kyree was a very intelligent player,” former Chandler head coach, now ASU running backs coach Shaun Aguano said to the “Zone Read.” “Long, fast, and athletic. He came to work every day. I am so proud of him and his accomplishments. Four interceptions is incredible at any level.”

The former 3-star recruit, who played collegiately at San Diego State, saw his final year for the Aztecs cut short with mid-season torn ACL. After sitting out a year, he attended the SDSU Pro Day but never caught on with an NFL team.

Woods, an All-State performer in football, who also competed in track in the 110 and 300-meter hurdles with the Wolves, would eventually get a tryout with the Rattlers.

The rest, as they say, is history.

“He is a tremendous player and a better young man,” Aguano continued. “He will continue to do great things. I love seeing our Chandler kids be so successful.”

Saguaro Skills

Head coach Jason Mohns’ mind has to race every time he scrolls over Saguaro’s two-deep offensive skill player depth chart on the magnetic board in his office.

The defending Open Division Champions appear fully armed, and dangerous, as they make the move from 5A to 6A play this fall.

“The depth of talent at the skill positions right now is as good as I’ve had in my tenure at Saguaro,” Mohns said to the “Zone Read.”

Senior quarterback Devon Dampier, who took the reigns full time before the playoffs in 2021, is back, and appears ready to build off his junior campaign. He was steady and efficient as a passer, throwing seven touchdowns against just two interceptions in 76 attempts, but was game-changer in the run game. The 6-foot, 185-pounder rushed 77 times for 771 yards (9.4 per carry), and scored 10 times. His quick feet helped keep plays alive, especially in the Open Division playoff matchups against Hamilton’s and Chandler’s stout defense.

“[Devon], in my opinion,” Mohns noted. “Was the best player on the field throughout last year’s Open Division playoff run.”

However, he is far from the only game-breaker in an offense sure keep opposing defensive coordinators guessing on Friday nights.

Dampier will share the backfield with junior Jaedon Matthews, who rushed for 972 yards (10 yards per carry) and 10 touchdowns as a sophomore, as well as senior Zaccheus Cooper who suffered a season-ending knee injury in his first game eligible in 2021 after transferring in from Liberty. Junior All-State tight end JoJo Clark will likely tote the rock in the red zone. Backs Rob Moore and Jayden Staples will get their opportunities, as well. 

At wide receiver, senior Derik English is also coming off a serious injury, but is an elite level, Power 5 talent. Jaci Dickerson and his water bug quickness returns to the slot. Four of his 13 receptions went for touchdowns in 2021. The veteran of the group is senior Chris Nimcheski who provides “physicality and terrific ball skills” according to Mohns. 

Add sophomore wide receiver Dajon Hinton to the mix and the ‘Cats’ perimeter speed looks lethal. 

Finally, another young player to watch is 2024 quarterback Mason Bray who Mohns believes has all the tools of a high-level, Division I prospect. 

One to Watch – Central Figure

“Blas is a coaches dream.”

Central High head coach Chandler Hovik simply can’t say enough about senior two-way starter, Blas Guillen.

The Bobcats top lineman heading into fall camp, the 6-foot-3, 240-pounder is set to start at both left tackle, and defensive end, for a Central team looking to build off their 5-4 2021 campaign, which marked their first winning season since 2017.

With heightened expectations in 2022, Hovik is counting on Guillen to continue to set the tone on the field, in the locker room, and in the classroom with his 3.0 GPA.

“He leads by example,” Hovik continued. “Never misses a day and makes good decisions on the field and in the classroom. He has worked extremely hard to be our top lineman heading into his senior season. Blas is one of the most humble kids I’ve ever been around.”

Guillen is also a dual citizen in both the United States and Mexico.

“His Hispanic heritage means a lot to him and he has a lot of family in both countries that he is making proud.”

Central hosts Paradise Valley to open their season on September 2nd.