Blogs / Features
Les WillseyStaff Writer, AIA365.com firstname.lastname@example.org
Week 10 FB: Ironwood Ridge aims for trifecta vs. SalpointeOct 23, 2012
The final week of regular season football in Division I through Vl takes place this weekend and there are several games involving playoff-bound teams that will have a playoff-feel a week early.
The top matchup takes place in southern Arizona featuring unbeaten Ironwood Ridge (9-0) at Salpointe (9-1). Both teams are riding nine-game winning streaks.
Ironwood Ridge is No. 1 in the latest Division II seedings released Tuesday and can cement that position by knocking off Salpointe. If Ironwood Ridge is successful, it would be the NIghhawks third win in as many tries against teams in the top five of D-II seedings. Last month Ironwood Ridge defeated Marcos de Niza and Centennial on back-to-back Fridays to establish itself as one of D-II's top contenders.
Ironwood Ridge relies on ball-control offense and a quick defense that has forced 23 turnovers in nine games. Running back Anthony Braunreiter is closing in on 1,000 yards rushing (985 to date) and quarterback Tyler Williams has come up with big plays running and throwing. Salpointe (No. 5 in D-II seedings) has multiple weapons in running back Cameron Denson, who is just shy of 1,000 yards rushing with 976 in 10 games. Backfield mate Johnny Pena passed the 1,000-yard mark last week (1,023) and has combined with Denson for 34 touchdowns. Quarterback Andrew Cota, who has missed a couple games, has still managed to throw for 1,022 yards.
Other key games Friday in the East Valley and southern Arizona:
WILLIAMS FIELD (9-0) at QUEEN CREEK (9-0): Neither school has faced a particulalry tough schedule so this serves to prepare for the playoffs next week and to jockey for playoff seeding. WillIams Field is currently No. 4 in Division III seedings and Queen Creek is No. 3. Williams Field was pushed for only the second time all season last week in edging Poston Butte, 32-29. Queen Creek continued to dominate with a 21-3 win over Campo Verde. Queen Creek has allowed just 35 points, essentially a field goal per game. The Bulldogs have capable weapons on offense, but its offensive line and defense set the tone. Running back Matt Guida, who rushed for more than 100 yards in four of Queen Creek's final six games last year, has rushed for 100 or more in all nine this season on his way to 1,744 yards total. Junior quarterback Jeddediah Fagg passed for a season-high 252 yards in last week's win over Poston Butte. Sophomore running back Sean Schweichler has been the Blackhawks most consistent offensive weapon.
RED MOUNTAIN (7-2) AT HIGHLAND (6-3): Highland has more sense of urgency in this finale. The Hawks rest at No. 14 in D-I seedings. A win keeps them in the top 16 or at least high enough to qualify. A loss turns their playoff hopes iffy. Red Mountain enters the week at No. 6 in Division I seedings.The Mountain Lions got back on track by beating Sklyline last week after scoring just 15 points in their previous two games. Highland has been hit by the injury bug in several key positions of late and recent weeks have been a struggle due to a lack of depth. Defense will need to carry Highland. Red Mountain's biggest win of was over Brophy in mid-September. Winning its final two games would be a boost heading to postseason.
DESERT VISTA (7-2) AT CHANDLER (7-2): Defending Division I state champ Desert Vista is better than its current slot in the Division I seedings No. 7 indicates as is Chandler. The teams share the same losses -- to No. 1 Mountain Pointe and No. 3 Hamilton. Enhancing their playoff seed is what this game is all about.
MARCOS DE NIZA (8-1) AT CESAR CHAVEZ (9-0): Better late than never for Cesar Chavez in this one. Cesar Chavez has gone essentially unchallenged with its schedule to date. Chavez, currently No. 4 in D-II seedings, should be sky-high for this one to prove it does belong in the top five of Division II seedings. The Champions have wins over two D-II playoff teams -- Millennium and Betty Fairfax. Ditto Marcos de Niza (No. 2 D-II seedings) over defending champ Chaparral and Perry. Marcos has additiional credence attached with its touchdown-loss to top-rated and unbeaten Ironwood Ridge at midsedason. A good checkup for both teams prior to postseason.