6A Region 3 Fiesta football preview: 10 questions, projected order of finish

The 2020 Arizona high school football season kicks off this week. Here are 10 questions for 6A Region 3 (Fiesta). At the bottom is our predicted order of finish.

1. Who are the region’s top player of the year candidates?

Williams Field wide receiver Myles Taylor, Casteel wide receiver Isaiah Newcombe, Desert Ridge quarterback Austin Kolb, Queen Creek linebacker Trey Reynolds and Red Mountain safety George Ramirez are the favorites. They are all seniors. Queen Creek junior quarterback Devin Brown, a USC commit, also will be in the discussion.

Taylor might have the best shot following last year’s stat line of 60 catches for 1,342 yards and 16 touchdowns, although he will have a new quarterback in 2020 (more on that later).

2. Who will play quarterback for Red Mountain?

Mountain Lions coach Mike Peterson has the luxury of choosing between two future Division I quarterbacks in senior Evan Svopoda and junior Jalen Daniels. He told SBLive he was “still evaluating” the position ahead of scrimmage week.

3. Will there be an Open Division team from Region 3?

None of the five teams that make up Region 3 reached the Open Division playoffs in 2019. This season, Queen Creek and Red Mountain will have a chance to qualify.

4. How many playoff teams will come out of the region?

With only eight teams making the Open Division bracket and eight more making the 6A playoff field, earning a postseason berth in 2020 will be extremely tough. Region 3 is talented enough to have four teams make it — maybe even all five.

5. Who are some offensive linemen to know?

Red Mountain senior tackle Sia Mapakaitolo is committed to USC. Casteel senior guard Brock Dieu is committed to Washington State. Desert Ridge senior guard Dante Smith has multiple Division I scholarship offers, per 247Sports.com. Queen Creek senior tackle Isaia Glass is committed to Arizona State. There will be some great offensive line play in Region 3.

6. Who are the top running backs?

Three names to know are Williams Field junior Kaden Cloud, Desert Ridge senior Avantae Barrett and Queen Creek senior Payton Barlow. Cloud rushed for 1,277 yards and 16 touchdowns in 2019. Barrett rushed for 425 yards and nine scores in addition to playing linebacker. Barlow ran for 263 yards and three touchdowns. He also plays defensive back.

7. Who are the top defensive players?

Red Mountain senior safety George Ramirez and Queen Creek’s trio of seniors — linebacker Trey Reynolds, safety Krew Jackson and safety Hunter Barth — headline the region’s list of defensive standouts.

Ramirez can do it all. Last year, he recorded 70 tackles and two interceptions. He also blocked five punts.

Reynolds (Utah), Jackson (Kansas State) and Barth (Cal) are committed to Power 5 schools.

8. Who are the underclassmen to know?

Williams Field quarterback CJ Tiller and Queen Creek linebacker Porter Reynolds are expected to have an impact as sophomores. Tiller will start under center for the Black Hawks. Reynolds made 53 tackles and had five sacks and an interception as a freshman.

9. Who is someone not getting Division I attention that opposing teams should be aware of?

Williams Field senior linebacker Carson Speer. Black Hawks coach Steve Campbell describes Speer as “undersized — under-everything, really — but he’s a playmaker. He’s really fast and has a great nose for the ball.”

Steele made 146 tackles last season, with 14 coming for loss. He had four sacks, three interceptions, three fumble recoveries, one blocked punt and two blocked field goals.

10. What will the region standings look like at the end of the regular season?

1. Queen Creek

2. Red Mountain

3. Williams Field

4. Casteel

5. Desert Ridge

More on each team

Read more about the Fiesta teams at the following links:

Casteel Colts football team braces for leap to Arizona’s 6A conference

Desert Ridge football armed with explosive offense in pursuit of Arizona 6A playoff berth

Queen Creek football loaded with Power 5 talent in fifth season under Joe Germaine

Red Mountain football reloads for another deep playoff run

Williams Field will try for another Arizona football title in 2020 — this time in 6A

Thank you for joining the discussion on SBLive!

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