Blogs / Features
Les WillseyStaff Writer, AIA365.com firstname.lastname@example.org
Week 8 FB: Mesa Mtn. View-Highland a spotlight contestOct 9, 2012
Highland and Mesa Mountain View are playoff starved teams. Well, sort of.
Highland hasn't qualified for postseason since 2008; Mountain View missed last year. That miss (the only one in the last 27 years) has pained the tradition-rich Toros and their faithful. It only seems like postseason has eluded them for years.
While Friday night's matchup won't be the end-all to qualifying for the 2012 playoffs for the Hawks and Toros, the winner is going to feel mighty good heading to the final two weeks.
Highland (5-2), which came up empty in losses to contenders Desert Ridge and Basha earlier this season, made a statement last week knocking off D-I's last unbeaten team, Desert Mountain. Mountain View was giddy with its incredibly low-scoring overtime win over Brown Road-rival Red Mountain last week. The Toros were dominated on the stat sheet getting badly outgained. The 10-7 edge on the scoreboard was all that mattered
Mountain View has reeled off five straight wins after dropping its first two games to Desert Mountain and Desert Ridge. The five-game run is Mountain View's longest since 2009. The Toros are currently No. 7 in D-I seedings and Highland rests at No. 10.
Highland received a huge lift from running back Ryan McCord, who scored three times and rushed for 209 yards in his first carries since August after returning from a banged up shoulder. McCord operated as the Hawks' pony-express with 22 carries.
Mountain View used turnovers to stay with Red Mountain last week as its offense totaled 103 yards. The Toros look to get back on track on offense as their previos games have been shootouts.
Other games of note featuring East Valley and southern Arizona schools on Friday:
PERRY (5-2) AT BASHA (5-2): Both schools are jockeying for playoff spots in their respective divisions (Perry D-II) and Basha (D-I). Perry pulled off an upset in a shootout with Basha last year and is still looking for a marquee triumph. The Pumas' losses have come to Queen Creek (one of the top teams in D-III) and Marcos de Niza (one of the best in D-II). Perry is currently No. 8 in D-II seeding.
Basha, No. 11 in D-I seeding, looks much the same team as a year ago with little trouble moving the ball. Turnovers have stalled the point production and at times aided the opposition. The Bears are averaging three turnovers a game. Basha is led by quarterback Zach Werlinger, wide out Nate Phillips and running back Rajhan Meriwether.Werlinger has passed for 1,904 yards and 22 TDs. Phillips has 49 catches for 805 yards and 10 TDs. Meriwether has 1,000 yards combined rushing and receiving. Perry hopes to duplicate its win from a year ago. That rests with a bend-don't-break defense and continued production from a ball-control attack.
NOGALES (6-1) AT SALPOINTE (7-1): Nogales is one of the top Division III teams currently (No. 9 in seedings), but must play its best game to be in the same area code as Salpointe. Salpointe has won seven consecutive games after opening the year with a loss to Crespi High (Encino, Calif.). Salpointe, No. 4 in D-II seedings, bombed Nogales last year, 45-0. The Lancers have a showdown in two weeks with unbeaten Ironwood Ridge.
SUNNYSIDE (5-2) AT CIBOLA (4-3): Sunnyside has the upper hand in qualifying for postseason, particularly if it wins this game in a battle of D-I clubs. The Blue Devils prevailed last year in a nail-biter, 35-31. Sunnyside's blemishes are losses to D-II Cienega and D-III Sabino, two of the top four teams in Tucson. Cibola scheduled games with California neighbors Imperial and Brawley this year rather than playing some of its sister schools twice. Cibola lost to both California schools. The Raiders also were thumped by Corona. Sunnyside,No. 16 in D-I seedings, has two very winnable games remaining. Cibola needs this one and a showdown with neighboring Gila Ridge next week. Cibola has one advantage at the moment over Sunnyside and other contenders in the bottle quarter of the D-I seedings. Cibola is one of the top three teams in its D-I section. Despite being No. 23 in the current seedings, the Raiders would nab a playoff spot even if they don't finish in the top 16. The top three teams in each of D-I sections earn automatic playoff berths.