Blogs / Features
Les WillseyStaff Writer, AIA365.com email@example.com
D-I thru V FB playoffs: Wide open tourneys abound this yearOct 30, 2012
The chatter this postseason is not just about Hamilton. Or Centennial and Chaparral. Or Saguaro. Or Northwest Christian and Yuma Catholic. It may still rightfully be focused on Blue Ridge and Show Low.
There is more postseason buzz this fall than in many years past. Whether it's a one-year deal, who knows. Who cares. This season has more drama to it, even if Hamilton or the perennial powers end up on top again.
Here are some observations and predictions for each division bracket and through the first two rounds:
Teams who can win it: No. 1 Mountain Pointe, No. 4 Brophy, No. 3 Hamilton, No. 6 Desert Vista, No. 2 Desert Ridge. Mountain Pointe and Desert Ridge have the clearer paths to the semis. Brophy may get challenged in the first or second round, but based on the last couple of weeks performances the Broncos are a notch above Chandler and Red Mountain. The most rigorous path beckons for the Hamilton-Highland and Desert Vista-Basha quadrant. Basha could be a spoiler. The Bears played Desert Vista tough in last year's semifinals. But it likely will be Hamilton-Desert Vista in the quarterfinals. Play out the scenario for the Desert Vista-Basha winner and it could mean beating Hamilton, Desert Ridge and either Mountain Pointe or Brophy in the final. That would be a well-deserved title running through that gamut. Darkhorses:No. 11 Basha and No. 13 Chandler. Semifinal prediction: Mountain Pointe vs. Brophy and Desert Ridge vs. Hamilton.
Teams who can win it: No. 1 Salpointe, No. 4 Centennial, No. 3 Ironwood Ridge, No. 2 Marcos de Niza. Ironwood Ridge and Centennial have easier quadrants to play through. Marcos de Niza has been steady through the season, but a rematch of its nail-biting win over resurgent Chaparral looms in the quarterfinals. Cienega has been a player the past couple seasons, but getting by Marana Mountain View won't be easy and then Salpointe daunting. The fact Ironwood Ridge beat Centennial and Marcos de Niza and Salpointe defeated Chaparral and Ironwood Ridge are certainly worth noting. Marcos de Niza took the luster off Cesar Chavez last week. Darkhorse: No. 7 Chaparral. Semifinal prediction: Salpointe vs. Centennial and Marcos de Niza vs. Ironwood Ridge.
Teams who can win it: No. 1 Desert Edge, No. 9 Saguaro, No. 4 Liberty, No. 3 Sabino, No. .2 Queen Creek. Division III (4-I) has been Saguaro's domain. Might still be, but figuring out how good the teams named that can win it is the test. Desert Edge and Saguaro saw at least half of their opponents qualify for postseason be it at the D-I, D-II, D-III or D-IV level. Sabino beat two D-II playoff teams and a D-IV playofff team. Queen Creek beat three playoff teams - the highest seed D-III Williams Field by 42 points. Desert Edge thumped and shutout Liberty a few weeks ago. Sabino beat D-II qualifier Sahuaro last week. Darkhorse: None really, although No. 7 Maricopa and No. 10 Thunderbird are worth paying attention to whichever makes it to the quarterfinals. Semifinal prediction: Desert Edge vs. Liberty and Queen Creek vs. Sabino.
Teams who can win it: No.1 Blue Ridge, No. 2 Show Low. Blue Ridge is a heavy favorite and may not see much resistence come the semifinals. Expect a spirited battle on the bottom half of the bracket, mainly with Show Low and Mingus. Mingus hasn't played a tough slate, but it gave Blue Ridge a game -- be it late August. A Seton-Mingus quarterfinal is likely and may shed a more light on Mingus' prowess. Seton will have to prove it's better prepared for tougher games in the quarters and semifinals. If the Sentinels reach the semis they'll again likely have to go through a White Mountain school. Seton didn't fare too well against Blue Ridge in last year's semifinals. Darkhorse: No. 6 Mingus. Semifinal prediction: Blue Ridge vs. Snowflake and Show Low vs. Mingus.
Teams who can win it: No. 1 Northwest Christian, No. 4 Scottsdale Christiain, No. 3 Tempe Prep, No. 5 Yuma Catholic. How does one nail down a favorite when NWC beat Yuma Catholic and Scottsdale Christian by a combined six points. Tempe Prep beat Northwest Chrisitan. Scottsdale Christian beat Tempe Prep. Yuma Catholic has one D-V loss and has pounded all other D-V foes plus some playoff-bound teams in D-IV.The tough part is three of the aforementioned four teams are in the same half of the bracket opening the door for Tempe Prep, Morenci and Thatcher in the bottom hal. Morenci's schedule had it confined to teams in the south and it beat Thatcher, Benson and Willcox handily. Remains to be seen if the Wildcats can beat the top private schools from the Valley and Yuma. They'll need to top at least two to win the title. This is the most wide open of the five divisions as the above results illustrate. Know it won't be a NWC-Yuma Catholic final for the first time in three years. Darkhorses: No. 2 Morenci and No. 6 Thatcher. Semifinal prediction: Tempe Prep vs. Morenci and Northwest Christian vs Yuma Catholic.