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Veteran QB 'RhettRod' ready to lead Catalina Foothills into big road test

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High school football

Veteran QB 'RhettRod' ready to lead Catalina Foothills into big road test

  • Rhett Rodriguez, right, poses with his father, Arizona football coach Rich Rodriguez, after verbally committing to play for the Wildcats earlier this year. He's a senior quarterback at Catalina Foothills.
    courtesy of Rhett RodriguezRhett Rodriguez, right, poses with his father, Arizona football coach Rich Rodriguez, after verbally committing to play for the Wildcats earlier this year. He's a senior quarterback at Catalina Foothills.

Catalina Foothills senior quarterback Rhett Rodriguez has stood on the sidelines of plenty of big games.

Start with the 2006 Sugar Bowl, when West Virginia – coached by his father, Rich Rodriguez – knocked off the SEC champion Georgia. Fast-forward to a couple years ago and he can clearly recall watching his dad’s Arizona Wildcats team fall just short in the Fiesta Bowl against Boise State.

“It didn’t come out our way,” said Rodriguez, who is verbally committed to play for the UA. “But that was such a big game on a big stage.”

Rodriguez – better known as ‘RhettRod’ – will play on a different big stage on this week, in arguably the biggest high school game of his storied four-year career.

Catalina Foothills will travel to face perennial power Scottsdale Saguaro on Friday night, taking on a team that has won three straight state championships and is coming off a nationally televised victory against Colorado’s 2015 5A state champion.

“This is the best team in the state, any division,” Catalina Foothills coach Jeff Scurran said. “You don’t have to look very far to find someone who agrees with that.”

For the veteran Rodriguez, this will be his 36th high school game under center. Aside from starting in four playoff games over the last three years, not much comes close to Friday’s tilt at Saguaro.

“It’s a great match-up between two of the top teams in the division,” Rodriguez said. “So we know there very well could be a rematch later on in the season. This might be the biggest regular-season game I’ve ever played in.”

A year ago, Rodriguez passed for 2,503 yards and 20 touchdowns, rushed for 624 yards and 14 scores and guided Foothills to just its second postseason victory in program history: a 21-16 win against Yuma Cibola. The senior has posted a 25-10 record since making his debut as a freshman in the fall in 2013.

In addition to the physical growth, Rodriguez has become more and more comfortable on the field over the years. That was especially evident to Scurran in last week’s season-opening win against Tempe.

“Watching Rhett reminded me of watching Peyton Manning,” Scurran said. “He’d stand at the line of scrimmage, point out things, make checks, make blitz pick-up calls and we’re to the point now where he really runs the offense.

“He’s grown up on his dad’s sidelines; his knowledge of football is spectacular but it’s growing.”

That knowledge will be extremely beneficial on Friday night, when Rodriguez lines up against some of the best prospects in the state. Among them is safety K.J. Jarrell, a four-star recruit with scholarship offers from Arizona, Arizona State, Texas A&M and USC among others.

After all, it won’t be the first time Rodriguez has seen or faced elite competition.

“I’ve gained a lot experience playing,” Rodriguez said. “But I’ve watched games for 18 years now so I’ve got a pretty good football I.Q. just from watching. I’ve been pretty lucky.”

Friday's local games

  • Amphitheater at Flowing Wells, 7 p.m.
  • Apache Junction at Canyon del Oro, 7 p.m.
  • Catalina Foothills at Scottsdale Saguaro, 7 p.m.
  • Cienega at Surprise Shadow Ridge, 7 p.m.
  • Desert View at Maricopa, 7 p.m.
  • Douglas at Cholla, 7 p.m.
  • Glendale at Palo Verde, 7 p.m.
  • Marana at Tempe McClintock, 7 p.m.
  • Mesa Desert Ridge at Tucson, 7 p.m.
  • Mountain View at Rincon/University, 7 p.m.
  • Nogales at Ironwood Ridge, 7 p.m.
  • Phoenix Cortez at Rio Rico, 7 p.m.
  • Queen Creek at Sahuaro, 7 p.m.
  • Queen Creek American Leadership at Sabino, 7 p.m.
  • Queen Creek Casteel at Empire, 7 p.m.
  • Queen Creek Franklin at Catalina, 7 p.m.
  • Sierra Vista Buena at Sunnyside, 7 p.m.
  • Walden Grove at Pusch Ridge Christian, 7 p.m.
  • Willcox at Tanque Verde, 7 p.m.

Last week's scores

Friday, Aug. 26

  • Canyon del Oro 41, Phoenix Shadow Mountain 13
  • Globe 42, Catalina 7
  • Amphitheater 28, Cholla 15
  • Coolidge 35, Empire 20
  • Flowing Wells 48, Sierra Vista Buena 13
  • Cienega 52, Marana 20
  • Salpointe Catholic 38, Mountain View 20
  • Desert View 41, Palo Verde 14
  • Ironwood Ridge 33, Phoenix Sunnyslope 0
  • Sunnyside 10, Pueblo 6
  • Queen Creek American Leadership 14, Pusch Ridge Christian 10
  • Mesa Dobson 42, Rincon/University 7
  • Walden Grove 28, Rio Rico 6
  • Safford 42, Sahuarita, 18
  • Queen Creek Franklin 49, Santa Rita 6
  • Tanque Verde 39, San Manuel, 13
  • Catalina Foothills 35, Tempe 7
  • Tucson 28, Glendale Mountain Ridge 0

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