AIA365 Staff Insiders
Les WillseyStaff Writer, AIA365.com firstname.lastname@example.org
FB quarters: Facing good competition earlier comes into playNov 7, 2012
Teams that have faced little to no competition during the season are entering an at-risk stage of the campaign. That's because for the most part every game a team plays the rest of the way is likely going to be a war. And having experience -- even a losing one in those kind of games -- weighs in on whether or not a team moves on to the semifinals or better.
Keep this in mind through a rundown of top games in D-I through V quarterfinals involving East Valley and southern Arizona teams Friday November 9 and Saturday November 10:
DIVISION I (FRIDAY NOVEMBER 9, 7 PM games)
NO. 6 DESERT VISTA (9-2) AT NO. 3 HAMILTON: (9-2): Both teams played their share of qualify opponents. including one another a few weeks ago in this rematch of the 2011 state final. This is simply a battle in the trenches and keeping an eye on the turnover count. Desert Vista controlled the line of scrimmage to win convincingly in the title game; Hamilton won this season with its defense picking up the pace lacking in the title-game loss. NO. 10 WESTVIEW (8-3) AT NO. 2 DESERT RIDGE (10-1): Westview is the underdog.The Knights aren't devoid of compeitiiton. They opened the season losing to Red Mountain and midway through gave a good account of themselves in a loss to Brophy. Beating higher seed Pinnacle last week handily gives Desert Ridge some pause. Desert Ridge has several wins of note -- Red Mountain decisively and Basha. Desert Ridge is the favorite, but must bring its A game to a team that shouldn't be underestimated. NO. 9 DESERT MOUNTAIN (9-2) AT NO. 1 MOUNTAIN POINTE (10-1): The reason Mountain Pointe emerged as the top team in D-I was its overall strength of schedule. The Pride faced six playoff teams -- Hamilton, Desert Vista, Brophy, Chandler, Buena and Mesa Mountain View. Desert Mountain has a few playoff teams on its resume -- Pinnacle, Highland and Mountain View. All three lost last week in the first round with Desert Mountain beating Mountain View for a second time (Mountain View defeated Pinnacle and Highland). Desert Mountain will have tobe sturdy on defense to compete. The Wolves can put up points, but not enough to top Mountain Pointe. Mountain Pointe will be the best defensive team Desert Mountain has faced by far this season. NO. 5 RED MOUNTAIN (8-3) AT NO. 4 BROPHY (10-2): Red Mountain has one victory that stands out above the rest -- a win over Brophy in early September. That, however, was about the time that Red Mountain peaked. The Mountain Lions were 3-0 at that point and have gone 5-3 since. Brophy has won eight games in a row since losing to Red Mountain, including a win over top seed Mountain Pointe. Brophy has faced Mountain Pointe, Red Mountain, Westview and (Rancho) Santa Margarita,Calif. and been competitive in all of them going 2-2. Momentum and confidence level at this point says Brophy.
DIVISION II (FRIDAY NOVEMBER 9, 7 PM games)
NO. 9 MARANA MOUNTAIN VIEW (8-3) AT NO. 1 SALPOINTE (11-1): Salpointe is the hottest team in D-II with a solid win over previoulsy unbeaten Ironwood Ridge two weeks ago. The Lancers, winners of 11 straight games, have been impressive all year and discovered they don't have to spread the field and throw to win. A powerful offensive line and smash-mouth football works, too (see win over Ironwood Ridge). Marana Mountain View has come up short against contenders twice, losing to Salpointe (40-10) amd Ironwood Ridge (40-14). This looks to be one of those weeks as wel for the Mountain Lions. NO. 6 APOLLO (10-1) AT NO. 3 IRONWOOD RIDGE (10-1): Ironwood Ridge rebounded nicely from its regular-season ending loss to Salpointe with a rout of Prescott in the first round. Apollo hasn't seen a team nearly the likes of Ironwood Ridge except Centennial. Apollo suffered its lone loss to that D-II title contender (70-20). Apollo could be in for a rough ride despite its lofty record. NO. 7 CHAPARRAL (8-3) AT NO. 2 MARCOS DE NIZA (10-1): This figures to be like the meeting between them in late August -- tight. Marcos de Niza won, 29-2,7 on a late TD. Chaparral struggled early in the year, but is on the rebound and thrown its name back in the hat for the D-II crown. Chaparral has a narrow loss to Salpointe (27-20); Marcos a tight loss to Ironwood Ridge (35-27) in games played vs.other remaining D-II contenders.
DIVISION III (FRIDAY NOVEMBER 9, 7 PM games)
NO. 5 WILLIAMS FIELD (10-1) AT NO. 4 LIBERTY (10-1): High-powered offenses have given Williams Field trouble and that's what Liberty possesses. Williams Field was drubbed two weeks ago by No. 2 Queen Creek, which has multiple weapons both rushing and passing. Liberty's only loss was a decisive one, via shutout, to top-seed Desert Edge. Williams Field hasn't faced many teams with high-powered offenses and that puts the Black Hawks at a disadvantage in this one. NO. 14 NOGALES (8-3) at NO. 11 SUNRISE MOUNTAIN (9-2): A rare quarterfinal match-up when two double-digit seeds survive to play one another. Nogales, which didn't play a rigorous schedule, lost by two touchdowns to Sahuarita. The same Sahuarita that was pounded by Sunrise Mountain last week by 41 points. Hard to fathom Nogales shocking No. 3 Sabino, which beat decent D-I and D-II teams. It is what it is. The winner gets either Thunderbird or Queen Creek in the semis. NO. 10 THUNDERBIRD (8-3) AT NO. 2 QUEEN CREEK (11-0): Thunderbird is aruguably one of the top three teams Queen Creek has faced this season (the others Perry and Williams Field). Regardless, Queen Creek has hammered everyone it's faced (its closest game a three-TD win over D-II Perry). Thunderbird played four D-III playoff teams during the season, losing to Desert Edge, Saguaro and Cactus and defeating Paradise Valley. The three losses were to top-eight playoff seeds and the Saguaro loss close (43-39).Prior competition affords Thunderbird a glimmer of hope, but Queen Creek has played strong and steady even with a lighter schedule.
DIVISION IV (SATURDAY NOV. 10, 3 PM games)
NO. 12 EMPIRE (8-3) VS. NO. 4 SNOWFLAKE (9-2) AT WASHINGTON HS : Empire picked up a nice opening-round road win over No. 5 Estrella Foothills, but navigating this matchup with Snowflake is different. Snowflake has played the top seeds Blue Ridge and Show Low (its only losses). The Lobos were routed by Blue Ridge and lost by one
to Show Low. Those games were without quarterback Chase Walden, the team's offensive leader. Breakthroughs from the Valley or southern Arizona are few and far between at this level. With Walden back at the controls the last seven games, this isn't one of those matchups that bodes well for Empire. NO. 6 MNGUS (8-3) VS. NO. 3 SETON CATHOLIC (10-1) AT APOLLO HS: Mingus gave No. 1 Blue Ridge a tough game back in August, a plus for the Marauders. They lost games to No. 4 Snowflake and to D-II Prescott decisively. Seton has rolled through a myriad of opponents from D-III through D-V. Seton's schedule has been easier. The Sentinels did not play any D-IV playoff qualifiers this season. They are playing at a high level, but is it good enough to beat more battle-tested Mingus?
DIVISION V (SATURDAY NOVEMBER 10)
NO. 5 YUMA CATHOLIC (10-1) VS. NO. 4 SCOTTSDALE CHRISTIAN (9-1) AT WILLIAMS FIELD HS AT 3 PM: Yuma Catholic is the defending D-V champ and has won 10 consecutive games since opeing with a 16-14 loss to Northwest Christian. The Shamrocks haven't played any other D-V playoff qualifier, but have knocked off three D-IV playoff teams -- Buckeye, River Valley and Estrella Foothills. Scottsdale Christian has played and defeated three of four D-V playoff qualifiers -- Tempe Prep, Phoenix Christian and Bourgade. Its loss was a also to NWC (18-14), a game SCA led 14-0 at halftime. A toss-up like a 5 vs. 4 should be. NO. 6 THATCHER (10-1) VS. NO. 3 TEMPE PREP (9-2) AT HIGLEY HS AT 3 PM: Thatcher's tradition as a playoff contender at the D-V (2A) level remains intact. Wins over Benson (twice), Willcox and Round Valley and a loss to No. 2 Morenci have defined the Eagles' season. Tempe Prep has been tested by by a bunch of D-V Metro playoff teams -- Arizona Lutheran, Phoenix Christian and the season-ending triumph over previously unbeaten NWC. The Knights also lost a close game to SCA. The teams share a common foe -- Round Valley. They each beat the Elks by two touchdowns. NO. 7 ARIZONA LUTHERAN (9-2) VS. NO. 2 MORENCI (11-0) AT HIGLEY HS AT 7 PM: Arizona Lutheran defeated Tempe Prep (28-21) in its marquee win, but was dismantled by Northwest Christian (66-28). Morenci has polished off four D-V playoff teams -- Thatcher, Benson, Willcox and Round Valley. The Wildcats reached the quarterfinals last year, but would like to be another southern Arizona school to reach the semifinals as Yuma Catholic has done consistently in recent years.