Blogs / Features
Les WillseyStaff Writer, AIA365.com email@example.com
Week 2: Football games to peruse in EV, southern ArizonaAug 28, 2012
Lots of surprises last week from Mountain Pointe's win over Hamilton, Salpointe stopping Chaparral's long-home winning streak in upending the defending D-II state champs to nice rebounds from Tempe High, Westwood and Valley Christian from first-game, lopsided losses in 2011. Some teams looking for a first win in the second week; others a second win in as many tries.
Week 2 doesn't pose many titanic matchups, but here a few to peak at as a hot, uncomfortable August comes to a close. All games are Friday August 31 at 7 p.m. unless otherwise noted:
MESQUITE AT RED MOUNTAIN (Thursday Aug. 30): Red Mountain was known to be able to throw heading into the season packing Mason Thorman behind center with a solid junior season behind him. Thorman did a little more than might have been expected passing for a school-record 441 yards and five touchdowns against one of the better west valley squads in Division I in Red Mountain's opener with Westview. Mesquite, which faces one of the toughest schedules of any D-I school, is in a rebuilding mode. This is not a schedule to be rebuliding in, but coach Mat tGracey and staff have no choice but to do their best to weather it. Mesquite was blanked by Highland last week. The Wildcats will need a drastic rise in their level of play to make the game competitive. That might depend on Red Mountain's emotional outlook with Brophy looming on its schedule on Sept. 7.
MESA MOUNTAIN VIEW AT DESERT RIDGE: A tale of two openers as Mountain View couldn't stop Desert Mountain yielding nearly 400 yards of offense and 28-fourth-quarter points (49-28 loss). Desert Ridge didn't miss a beat offensively with a new skill set in beating Gilbert (47-6). Mountain View got a nice effort from junior quarterback Chase Funk, now in his second season as a starter. Funk passed for 236 yards and two scores. Running back-linebacker Weston Birtchter didn't get many breaks rushing for 57 yards and a TD, catching a TD pass and leading the Toros in tackles with 15. Mountain View's defense will need improvement (or a dose of takeaways) since its doubtful it can win a shootout with Desert Ridge. Mountain View had two turnovers cost it 14 points in the loss to Desert Mountain. Desert Ridge was stout on both sides of the ball in its opener as the final score indicates. The debut of sophomore quarterback, Tarek Morrison, was a smashing success as he produced 348 total yards, 214 rushing.
HAMILTON VS. NOTRE DAME HIGH (Sherman Oaks, Calif): Two very successful programs head across the ocean to Dublin, Ireland with three-point losses each in their openers. Not the way either anticipated this trip and game some 18-20 months ago when it was being pieced together. The trip will certainly have an educational an cultural bent to it which should rival the game experience. Both want to play their best and be ready to roll again when back on native soil.
HIGHLAND AT GILBERT: Highland continued to add on to its play from last last season when it won four of its final five game by posting a shutout of Mesquite last week (37-0). Highland's defense was the big story, forcing five turnovers. Gilbert had a tough opener for new coach Leland Rodgers last week in D-I title contender Desert Ridge. HIghland isn''t the offensive powerhouse Desert Ridge is, but Gilbert will need better efforts on both sides of the ball to have a legitimate shot at knocking off their arch rivals to the east.
VALLEY CHRISTIAN VS. TEMPE PREP (at Arizona Lutheran Academy): Valley Christian, which won one game in 2011, did coach Kevin Allen proud in reversing a double-digit loss to Canyon State. VC built a 20-7 lead at halftime and made it 33-7 by the middle of the third period. Quarterback T.J. Widner, who got a baptism by fire last season with 21 interceptions thrown, tossed three TD passes and was not picked off in the opener. Widner averaged nearly 20 yards a completion and got help on the ground from Cory Kasperson (three rushing TDs). Valley Christian's defense chimed in with seven takeaways. Tempe Prep opened strong battering Bourgade Catholic, 42-13. The Knights beat VC, 14-0 last year. Tempe Prep will be a tougher challenge for VC. TP rushed for more than 400 yards in beating Bourgade and averaged better than 10 yards a carry. Six Knights rushed for 50 yards or more.
CAMPO VERDE AT HIGLEY: Each opened with a blowout win so this figures to give both a better idea of where they stand. Campo Verde trampled Apache Junction, 41-6; Higley bounced Carl Hayden, 53-6. Neither team threw the ball much, but didn't feel the need. Higley running back Thomas Bush piled up 200 yards rushing and scored four times. Teammate and quarterback Mathias Young added 116 yards. Campo Verde rushed for 258 yards relying on multiple backs. Leading the way with a more modest total of 96 yards and two TDs was Lorenzo Sanchez. Junior quarterback Luke Pineda added 55 yards. It will either be a battle of running games or perhaps someone will need to unveil a passing attack to succeed.
POSTON BUTTE AT TEMPE: Both teams put up impressive offensive numbers in winning their season openers over Flagstaff (Poston Butte) and McClintock (Tempe). Poston Butte registered a click over 500 yards and Tempe a tad more than 400. Poston Butte debuted quarterback Robert Herrera, who passed for 264 yards and three TDs. Tempe sophomore Emanuel Gant connected fro 290 yards and four TD passes. Poston Butte was a playoff team a year ago; Tempe a team that struggled. The question this week: Can Poston Butte pressure Gant more than McClintock did? Gant had too much time to throw and the speed of his receivers -- Sebastian Watkins, Massiah Smith and Raija Holt -- frightened McClintock's timid secondary.Poston Butte showcased more balance than Tempe with 228 yards rushing, so the Buffaloes potentially have more to worry about on defense in trying for a second straight win.
TUCSON HIGH AT SALPOINTE: Both schools qualified for the playoffs last season -- Tucson in Division I and Salpointe in D-II. Tucson was one-and-done getting crushed by Basha. The Badgers pretty much won games they were supposed to and lost those they were suppopsed to in 2011. They'll try for a break-through win of sorts with Salpointe, but its a tall order. Salpointe is led by quarterback Andy Cota, who is averaging better than 250 yards a game passing in two starts against two solid programs -- Crespi , Encino, Calif., and Chaparral. Cota has spread the ball around to four receivers Cameron Denson, Jared Sires, Brogan Kemmerly and Conor Craddock. Each has between seven and nine receptions. Tucson is led by quarterback Donovan Moore, who picked apart Pueblo to the tune of 50-6. Pueblo has averaged three wins a season the last three campaigns iso beating Salpointe or playing them relatively close would be a feather in the Badgers cap.