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Les WillseyStaff Writer, AIA365.com email@example.com
FB semis: Brackets offer 5 rematches, few surprise pairingsNov 13, 2012
The Division I through V brackets have played out to date according to seeding. So for these mostly-expected final fours, it's a matter of execution and desire as to who prevails in a year as close to parity as football in the state gets.
One new champ has been crowned -- Joy Christian in D-VI. Divisions I, II and III have seen their defending champs fall - Desert Vista, Chaparral and Saguaro, respectively. What's left is to witness is if a mix of recent champs can re-emerge or whether or not newcomers can engrave their names on a title trophy. All of Division III's final four have never won a football title in their long-to-short tenures (Desert Edge, Williams Field, Nogales and Queen Creek).
Here's a brief look at each division's semis for Friday November 16 and Saturday November 17:
DIVISION I (FRIDAY NOV. 16, all games at 7 p.m.)
NO. 4 BROPHY (11-2) VS. NO. 1 MOUNTAIN POINTE (11-1) at McClintock High School -- Mountain Pointe, which has never reached a football title game since opening in 1991, may get there if the Pride can refrain from the second-half meltdown in their first meeting with Brophy that saw them give up 44 points in the second half and blow a 21-7 lead. Brophy avenged one of its two defeats outsting Red Mountain last week. Mountain Pointe couldn't contain running back Marche Dennard (268 yards rushing) in the first meeting, but must be wary of quarterback Tyler Bruggman and his receiving corps.The Broncos are dealing with injuries to wide out Devon Allen and Dennard gutted out last Friday's game. Mountain Pointe prefers ball control and defense -- a formula that eluded it in the 54-28 loss to the Broncos. NO. 3 HAMILTON (10-2) VS. NO. 2 DESERT RIDGE (11-1) at Highland High School -- Hamilton will try to sweep a second opponent in as many weeks and one it has never lost to since the schools first played in 2004. Desert Ridge is slightly more than one-dimensional with quarterback Tarek Morrison. Morrison sat out the final three quarters last week with a knee injury. Without him it will be tougher and require coach Jerremy Hathcock's defense to play even-up or better than Hamilton this week. Hamilton has shown it didn't appreciate the three-game losing streak that ended last year and began this year. The Huskies have been very methodical since and have looked the part of state champion. if Tarek Morrison can't play the Jaguars will be down two 1,000-yard rushers (JJ Husar is already out). With them healthy, Hamilton shut down the Jaguars earlier.
DIVISION II (FRIDAY NOV. 16, all games at 7 p.m.)
NO. 4 CENTENNIAL (11-1) VS. NO. 1 SALPOINTE (12-1) at Amphitheater High School -- Centennial is nearly an annual semifinal participant of late, but hasn't won a state title since 2008.The last time Centennial didn't reach the semis or better was 2003. It's only loss this season came against Ironwood Ridge. The Coyotes have a task ahead of them to beat Salpointe, which sports a powerful offense. Running back Johnny Pena is a match for Centennial's Jalen Ortiz, but with quarterback Andrew Cota and Cameron Denson to go along with Pena it's hard to keep the Lancers from scoring at least 28 points on just about any night. Salpointe has never won a state title. It's last semifinal appearance was an overtime loss in 2000 to Westwood. The Lancers lost St. Mary's in the big-school title game in 1991. Centennial has won six straight games since losing to Ironwood Ridge in late September. NO. 3 IRONWOOD RIDGE (11-1) VS. NO. 2 MARCOS DE NIZA (11-1) at Campo Verde High School -- Ironwood Ridge's running game out-lasted Marcos de Niza's passing game when the teams played almost two months ago, a 35-27 win for Ironwood Ridge. Marcos must shore up it's special teams and do a better job vs. the run if it's to turn the tables. The only team to beat Ironwood Ridge was Salpointe, which neutralized Ironwood Ridge's ground game and piled up 300 yards rushing against the Nighthawks. Marcos de Niza, which ran at will against Chaparral last week, is led by running back Mauriece Lee. Lee didn't get many opportunities last time as Marcos de Niza abandoned the run and let quarterback Josh Eckley throw to Paul Elvira and a host of other receivers for yards and points. Ironwood Ridge and Marcos de Niza have never won a state football title -- Ironwood Ridge has been open a little more than a decade and Marcos de Niza 40 years.
DIVISION III (SATURDAY NOV. 17), all games at 7 p.m.
NO. 5 WILLIAMS FIELD (11-1) VS. NO. DESERT EDGE (12-0) at Sandra Day O'Connor High School ---Williams Field hasn't let a drubbing at the hands of Queen Creek in the regular-season finale detour its resolve to win the title. The Black Hawks edged Campo Verde in the opening round and carved up Liberty to the tune of 53-30 last week. Liberty's only loss prior to last week came against Desert Edge (26-0). Desert Edge is fast and presents and outstanding defense. Williams Field needs its best defensive effort if it wants to make the finals as it did in iin the 2009 4A-II title game (overtime loss to Thunderbird). The Black Hawks are led on offense by shifty and speedy running back Sean Schweichler. NO. 14 NOGALES (10-2) VS. NO. 2 QUEEN CREEK (12-0) at Campo Verde High School -- Queen Creek got tested last week in the quarters by Thunderbird. The Bulldogs notched a 28-17 win, their narrowest of the season. Does Nogales have the recipe to fell another unbeaten? They can't be counted out since they eliminated one of three unbeaten D-III teams in the first round (Sabino). Nogales quarterback Marcel Renteria has had a hand in seven postseason touchdowns and the Apaches rely often on the big-play antics of running back Brian McCarty. Queen Creek has given up more points in two playoff games then it did the entire regular season. But its defense is still of championship caliber and offense capable behind junior running back Matt Guida, senior quarterback Carson Jones and senior wide out Gabe Vazquez.
DIVISION IV (SATURDAY NOV. 17)
NO. 4 SNOWFLAKE (10-2) VS. NO. 1 BLUE RIDGE (13-0) at Washington High School, 7 p.m. --This is a rematch of a blowout-win for Blue Ridge -- 50-0. Snowflake was minus its quarterback that night so the Lobos get a chance to see if Chase Walden's presence is a difference maker. Walden ran for 108 yards and two TDs to help secure a win over Empire last week. Walden missed the firt four games of the season due to injury. Blue Ridge, the defending champs, is playing at a high level as it usually does this time of year. The Yellow Jackets will be tough to beat with a pair of crushing wins in its first two playoff games as well as solid performances in virtually every other game this season. NO. 3 SETON CATHOLIC (11-1) VS. NO. 2 SHOW LOW (11-1) at Washington High School, 3 p.m. --Seton was in a similar position last year at this time. The Sentinels were in the semis vs. Blue Ridge, hung for a a little better than a quarter but bowed to the area's premier team. The road to a D-III (3A) final is often paved through White Mountain teams. Seton rallied from a TD deficit in the final six minutes to edge Mingus last week. The Sentinels were led off the bench by quarterback Ryan Bresnahan's four TD passes, including the game-winner with 1:22 left. Show Low's defense was strong in a 29-6 win over Buckeye last week. Their ability to defend the pass will be key in this one. Bresnahan has playoff experience. He missed a good chunk of the season due to a broken hand, but played fairly well in last year's 45-14 semifinal loss. Bresnahan passed for 289 yards in that game.
DIVISION V (SATURDAY NOV. 17)
NO. 5 YUMA CATHOLIC (11-1) VS. NO. 1 NORTHWEST CHRISTIAN (11-1) at Arcadia High School, 7 p.m. -- This marks the third year in a row these teams have met in postseason and will be their fifth meeting since the 2010 title game. The last four games have been decided by a total of 14 points. Expect another tight one. Yuma Catholic workhorse back Kody Hazlett rushed for 245 yards and six TDs last week in 2 1/2 quarters of work. NWC has standout safety Trevor Osborne leading its defense and good balance on offense. The Crusaders built 17-0 lead early in the second period last week and outlasted St. Johns 27-20. Quarterback Kyle Shipp threw three TD passes and running back Hunter McShanag rushed for 135 yards in helping subdue St. Johns. NO. 3 TEMPE PREP (10-2) VS. NO. 2 MORENCI (12-0) at Arcadia High School, 3 p.m. -- Tempe Prep has played very good defense on a weekly basis and that's essential this week. Morenci is averaging 56 points a game in its two playoff games; Tempe Prep is allowing seven per game in its two contests. Morenci has a bevy of running backs it relies on and will try to ground Tempe Prep into submission. Tempe Prep has a knack of getting just enough offense to go with its defense. Running backs Levi Hartzler and Ahmari Underwood key the Knights' ground attack.