PHOENIX - Friday Night Blitz, Quarter Finals Preview
Game of the Week:
(6) Marcos de Niza Padres (7-4) at (2) Chaparral Firebirds (10-1) – Division II
Earlier this season, Marcos was able to pull off the upset over the Firebirds in a 56-45 shoot-out, thanks to a 21 point 4th quarter led by Padres quarterback Josh Eckley. (340 yards passing, 6 TD, 105 yards rushing and 1 TD). Since that game the Firebirds have been virtually unstoppable: Chaparral's running game and its ability to run the play-action will make it tough for Marcos to stop. Meanwhile, Padres coach, Roy Lopez was placed on administrative leave, so assistant coach and offensive coordinator, Sean Morin will once again coach the team. Given the fact that there's no love lost between these two teams, this one should be interesting!
(9) Red Mountain Mountain Lions (6-5) at (1) Mountain Pointe Pride (11-0) – Division I
Red Mountain picked a great time of the season to get things rolling. Coming off a tough regular season, the Mountain Lions are playing solid football on both sides of the ball. But after last week's lopsided win over Highland, the season may just come to an end this week against the top ranked Pride. Mountain Point just has too many weapons and is simply too fast for most high school football programs west of the Mississippi. But if, IF, the Lions can stop Paul Lucas on the ground and Jalen Brown through the air, they may have a slight chance of an upset! But then again, not really!
(10) Basha Bears (6-5) at (2) Chandler Wolves (9-2) – Division I
This is a rematch of a regular season game that came just two weeks ago, that Chandler won 49-7, and left everyone wondering if Basha was just that bad this season. But Basha is much better than it showed in that last game against the Wolves, and the second time around should prove that. The keys for Basha to pull off an upset in the quarter-finals will be defense and Rajhan Meriwether. Meriwether has been a workhorse since the loss to Chandler with 54 carries and 334 yards in just the past two games. But Chandler's offense may just be too tough for the Bears to stop, and Basha has been prone to turnovers and penalties. This one should be another solid quarter-final Division I match-up!
(8) Canyon del Oro Dorados (10-1) at (1) Williams Field Black Hawks (10-1) – Division III
Thanks to a 99-yard scoring pass allowed, an offsides call in the final minute which could have given the ball back, and what Higley felt were blown calls between a touchdown and a fumble, Canyon del Oro held on to beat the Higley Knights last week and move on to face Williams Field. But let's face it, CDO has little chance against Williams Field, the team that beat up on Higley just a couple of weeks ago. The Black Hawks passed the first test after losing QB Jeddediah Fagg to a broken collarbone, as Cole Patterson had a big night against Avondale Agua Fria (8 of 12 for 189 yards passing and 3 touchdowns). The Black Hawks running game and defense are simply too good, and they should march straight into the semi-finals.
(5) Peoria Panthers (11-0) at (4) Queen Creek Bulldogs (9-2) – Division III
Peoria is one of the few undefeated teams left in Arizona (Mountain Pointe, Salpointe Catholic, Desert Edge and Bagdad), so the Panthers five seed comes from having the lowest strength of schedule in Division III. The Panthers beat up on Bradshaw Mountain last week, 50-23, but playing at Queen Creek (last year's state champions) is going to be a lot tougher. The Panthers haven't seen a running game or a defense like Queen Creek's so far this season. While Matt Guida isn't playing as much on offense because of a hamstring pull, Weston Barlow is running the ball very well for the Bulldogs, and Bryce Dobbs is doing a solid job at quarterback.
(7) Sabino Sabercats (9-2) at (2) Saguaro Sabercats (10-1) – Division III
It's the Sabercats against the Sabercats this week! In the first round of the playoffs last week, Sabino was able to hold off a late game rally from Tempe High to get the win, 56-49, but it wasn't quite as impressive when you consider the fact that Sabino had a 35-14 first quarter lead. Saguaro will be even more dangerous than Tempe on offense, spreading the field and throwing downfield as Luke Rubenzer does what he does with the ball. Saguaro just has too many weapons, (Rubenzer, Christian Kirk and J.T. Nettleton) for Sabino to stop. This one could end up in a blow-out!