EDITOR’S NOTE: PinalCentral is going through each football position group to list five players to watch in Pinal County this season. This is the sixth installment in the series. Keep in mind that some of these players may play multiple positions and don’t always fit neatly into one position group.

CASA GRANDE — Moving right along in PinalCentral’s five to watch series, we have finally reached the running backs. This is a very deep position in Pinal County, with a bunch of good players.

Here are five running backs to watch this season.

Hunter Ogle — SR, Santa Cruz Valley

This one should come as no surprise, since Ogle was the PinalCental Player of the Year in 2019. A bruising and explosive back that leads the Dust Devils power running game, Ogle rushed for 1,844 yards and 23 TDs last season on 240 carries.

He had at least 100 yards rushing in 12 of his 13 games. The only game where Ogle failed to reach the century mark was against Thatcher, and he still ran for 89 yards and two scores in that one. Ogle is also a stud linebacker — a superb two-way player.

Zion Burns — SR, Poston Butte

An equally easy choice is Burns, who did nothing but burn up opposing defenses all last season. He torched the opposition for 1,542 yards and 20 TDs, averaging just shy of 10 yards per carry.

Burns started getting noticed by many college programs, and he has verbally committed to Nevada. Burns will open even more eyes this season, as he continues to get better. After all, he finished the 2019 season on an ultimate high note, rushing for 325 yards and six TDs in a win against Chandler Seton Catholic.

Joey Jensen — SR, Combs

Jensen is flying under the radar a bit — for now. He has undeniable talent, and speed to burn. Speed kills, and Jensen can fly. He is a game-breaking player who can take the ball to the house at any given moment.

He rushed for 1,370 yards and 14 TDs, averaging 10.1 yards per carry. But that’s not all — Jensen is also a highly skilled receiver. He caught 42 passes for 692 yards and another seven trips to the end zone. The Coyotes will get him the ball early and often.

Mister Chavis — SR, Maricopa

Call him sir, call him whatever you want. But this Mister is one of the most dynamic running backs in the state. As a junior, he rushed for 795 yards and five touchdowns against a brutally tough 5A schedule.

Like Jensen, he can catch the ball out of the backfield. Chavis had 15 receptions for 149 yards and two touchdowns. He also ended the year with one of his best performances, rushing for 203 yards on 21 carries against Gilbert.

RJ Keeton — JR, Casa Grande Union

Continuing the trend of some of the other players on this list, Keeton is a versatile threat who can line up just about anywhere. And he can hurt teams from just about anywhere.

In his sophomore season, Keeton had 87 carries for 562 yards and six TDs. He also caught 29 passes for 258 yards and a score.

Keeton didn’t have a ton of touches, but he made the touches count. And expect the junior to have the ball in his hands more this season, as he will be a key weapon on a dangerous Casa Grande offense.


Brian Wright is the sports editor at PinalCentral. He can be reached at bwright@pinalcentral.com.