Westview High senior wide receiver Isac Hall has caught - aside from quite a few balls - the attention of the Knights coaches and junior quarterback Nico Vasko.
Through eight games, the connection between passer and catcher was one of the best in the state. Hall set school records for touchdown receptions (12) and yards (914) with two games remaining. Both totals also put him among the 6A leaders.
Hall knew his season was going well, but it was not until the Westview Knights Twitter account put out a graphic with his record-breaking numbers that he realized just how successful he had been.
“I wasn’t going for anything like that. It just happened I guess,” Hall said.
“But it was crazy realizing I was up there with some of the great players that have been here.”
Junior quarterback Vasko, who passed for over 1,600 yards and 20 touchdowns through eight games, said Hall serves as an excellent safety blanket. When opposing defenses get to Vasko quick, or he has few options downfield, he knows Hall will still often come down with the ball.
“Even on a bad throw, he still can go out and get it, or knock it down, or make something good happen,” Vasko said.
The production did not surprise the coaches, who had hints of big things to come in the summer.
Coach Nick Gehrts noticed how much Hall had improved over the offseason, and was expecting big things from him the rest of 2019.
“It was in the summer in seven-on-seven, and he had incredible outings every time, so we knew he was somebody we needed to get the ball to,” Gehrts said.
The work paid off. Hall caught a Westvie single-game record 11 passes for 128 yards in the 2019 season opener against Desert Ridge. Both numbers eclipsed his totals from last season, when he caught nine passes for 127 yards. And two athletic touchdown grabs were a bonus
The Knights, despite his efforts, fell behind early and lost 44-20. Even down double-digits late, Hall dominated his defensive-back matchup.
The Vasko-to-Hall combination changed the way Westview runs its offense. A traditionally run-heavy team, the Knights have taken advantage of both players’ skills and passed more than years prior.
In practice, Hall and Vasko have time to run individual routes and throws. The extra repetitions have made them even more in sync.
“We always have those talks and try to better ourselves, and we’ve done a good job of that,” Vasko said.
After starting just 1-4 the first half of the season, the Knights were in unfamiliar territory, outside the playoff ranks looking in. Westview recently was ranked No. 21 in 6A with a 4-4 record, a few spots outside the 16-team bracket, before losing to La Joya on Friday.
Among the top defensive performers are juniors Alejandro Barba, 65 tackles, and Cam’ron Granado, 58 tackles. Another junior, defensive back Dhayven Valentine, has a team-high four interceptions.
There is no way to guarantee a spot in the postseason, as the computer ranking formula is a well-kept secret by the Arizona Interscholastic Association. If there is just one game, or multiple, remaining in Hall’s high school football career, he wants to end it with a bang.
He said his focus is on team success, not stats.
“I just want to win what we can, see if we can make the playoffs, and just kind of finish strong. It’s not really about thinking about the numbers,” Hall said.