Blogs / Features
Les WillseyStaff Writer, AIA365.com email@example.com
Week 4 football aftermath: Tidbits on the divisional racesSep 17, 2012
A few football odds and ends as the official start of fall beckons and the regular season nears its midpoint, more to the point an overview of how the divisional races are shaping up:
Division I: Despite sitting at 2-2, Hamilton knows how to play defense. Throughout its 14-year history the few times the Huskies have lost their defense held up their end of the bargain. Hamilton lost two state title games (Red Mountain in 2001 and Brophy in 2005) giving up 14 and 15 points in those losses. Its state title years the defense was great as well (2003, 2004, 2006, 2008, 2009 and 2010). There have been occasional losses the defense wasn't up to snuff (playoff loss to Mountain View in 1999, regular-season loss to Highland in 2004, regular-season loss to Centennial in 2008 and title-game loss to Desert Vista in 2011).
Shutting down Desert Ridge (3-1) last Friday is more evidence teams that win in Division I are ones that play good defense consistently. That's why the Huskies are still in the thick of the title-game quest. Hamilton and Mountain Pointe (4-0) are playing the best defense in Division I. Desert Vista (3-1) is not far behind and followed closely by Red Mountain (4-0), Desert Ridge (3-1) and Brophy (3-2) and beyond them Chandler (4-0) and Basha (3-1). Closing the defensive gap between now and the end of the regular season is paramount for Division I contenders. The best part about D-I, however, is how wide open it appears. Here's hoping it stays that way to the start of the playoffs.
The Division II chase may be more intriguing than it has in some time. Chaparral and Centennial have cominated the D-II- 5A-II) landscape in recent years. Centennial (4-0) looks like the strong contender it normally is, but there are handful of pursuers. And it wouldn't be wise to exclude Chaparral. Although the Firebirds at 1-3 have work to do with the likes of Pinnacle and Horizon remaining on their schedule, Chaparral's losses to Salpointe, Marcos de Niza and Desert Mountain (D-I) are by a TD or less and two took place in the final seconds.
Ironwood Ridge (4-0), Marcos de Niza (4-0 and Salpointe Catholic (3-1) are the main predators of Centennial to this point. Horizon deserves a mention at 4-0 as well, but more will be known of the Huskies prowess after games with Pinnacle and Chaparral this month and next. The return to coaching of Doug Shaffer has fired up the fan base at 56th and Greenway.
Marcos de Niza hosts Ironwood Ridge this week in the second test of the season for the Padres and the first of two in a row for the Nighthawks. Salpointe should cruise until its date with Ironwood Ridge the final Friday in October. Centennial takes a gander at Ironwood Ridge (Sept. 28) in Tucson. That may be the only game Centennial is challenged during the regular season. Marcos de Niza might run the table if it defeats Ironwood Ridge this week. The final week of the season Cesar Chavez (4-0) is on the Padres' schedule, but is Chavez's schedule adequate preparation for Marcos come Oct. 26?.
Division III has a handful of unbeatens in Queen Creek (4-0), Williams Field (4-0), Sabino (4-0) and Liberty (4-0) and last year's runner-up Cactus (3-1). The quartet has won most of its games handily, but the competition the've faced is lacking thus far save one opponent maybe two. Their schedules don't bulk up mcuh later.
Sabino's slate is very light, but it did knock off last year's Division II runner-up Cienega in the season opener and made a deep run in postseason last year. Queen Creek dominated a decent Division II foe in Perry two weeks ago. Williams Field endured a battle with Canyon del Oro last week, but none elsewhere. Liberty hasn't struggled with anyone and may not be challenged until Oct. 26 when it tangles with Cactus.
Saguaro (2-2) back to .500 is starting to click, but has games left with last year's D-I and D-II champs -- Desert Vista and Chaparral. Saguaro's road to the title will be as tough as any its seen in the last couple seasons, but not a pipe dream. Saguaro gets a rematch of the 2011 D-III title game with Cactus this week.
Division IV: Two words likely sums it up -- Blue Ridge. Other teams have been close in recent years (mainly Show Low), but the Yellow Jackets (5-0) may be too much for any other D-IV foe in 2012. Still, don't forget the Oct. 19 matchup between Blue Ridge and Show Low at Blue Ridge.
Division V: This title chase is a grab bag of teams from the Valley, southern Arizona and up north from St. Johns who could stake a claim come late November. Defending champ Yuma Catholic (3-1) has rebounded (as it usually does) from a loss to Northwest Christian. NWC (4-0) escaped an upset bid from Scottsdale Christian (3-1) two weeks ago. Throw in Phoenix Christian (4-0), Tempe Prep (3-1), Arizona Lutheran (3-1) and the Valley has some nice competition going.
Morenci (4-0), Benson (3-1), Willcox (3-1) and Thatcher (3-1) are having their own regional battle at present. Morenci stands alone having dealt losses to Thatcher and Benson. San Tan Foothills is 3-1 with a win and loss against D-IV competition. St. Johns (3-1) has had its way with D-V opposition up north. It's only loss is to D-IV title-contending Show Low.