Peoria Centennial junior running back Zidane Thomas has moved to Florida to live with his mother, coach Richard Taylor said.
Following a breakout junior season, Thomas was on his way to being considered the best running back in the state, one of the top 2018 football recruits out of Arizona and even one of the best running backs in Centennial’s rich football history.
Taylor said that Thomas, who is from Florida, left school this week to be with his mother, who lives in the Miami area.
Thomas was getting strong Pac-12 interest after rushing for 2,329 yards and 22 touchdowns, leading the Coyotes to the 5A Conference state final, last season.
“He missed his mom,” Taylor said. “He could come back. But if I was the coach over there, I would tie him up and not let him go.”
Thomas, 5-foot-10, 205 pounds, had 225 yards and three touchdowns rushing in a 21-6 quarterfinal win over Goodyear Desert Edge. He followed that up the next week with 329 yards and four touchdowns rushing in a semifinal win over Vail Cienega. Taylor said that Thomas was improving his grades and is an academic qualifier.
“We’re going to miss not only a great football player but a great person,” Taylor said.
It’s going to be tough for Centennial to replace Thomas, a rugged, fast ball carrier who ran through and past defenders last season.
“People wondered what we would do after Dedrick Young left, after the Hughes brothers left, after the Houses left, but we’ve always had somebody to come in and replace them,” Taylor said.
Suggest human interest stories to Richard Obert at firstname.lastname@example.org or 602-316-8827. Follow him at azc_obert.