Friday Night Blitz, Week 11 Preview
It all comes down to this – win or go home as the high school football playoffs take over the state Friday with a number of great matchups.
Red Mountain vs. Highland:
These are the matchups we love to see because you just don't know who will walk away with the "W". In Division I, the ninth seeded Red Mountain Mountain Lions will travel to Highland to face the eighth seeded Hawks.
Highland is trying to snap a two-game losing streak after falling to Chandler (21-14) and Hamilton (14-7).
The Hawks are only averaging 22 points per game, so they're relying heavily on their defense to carry them through.
Red Mountain on the other hand is on a two-game winning streak, beating Mountain View (44-20) and Skyline (29-13).
They're averaging 24 points per game, so this one will come down to which offense can breakdown their opponent's defense.
Ironwood Ridge vs. Marcos de Niza:
The defending state champion Ironwood Ridge Nighthawks won't have an easy road to another championship banner. They'll face the Marcos de Niza Padres out of Tempe in round one of the Division II playoffs.
Both teams are 6-4, but Marcos has a bad taste in their mouth after losing to Ironwood Ridge twice last season, including in the semi-finals.
This game will come down to the Padres quarterback Josh Eckley (on a bad ankle) as Marcos' defense has been lackluster this season.
Meantime, Ironwood Ridge only has one starter returning from last year's championship team.
Deer Valley vs. Sunnyslope:
Staying in Division II, the 12th seeded Deer Valley Skyhawks will face the perfect 10-0 Sunnyslope Vikings.
But don't look at Deer Valley's 7-3 record and think this game is in the bag for the Vikings. Two of those losses were forfeited after the team played athletes that weren't eligible.
Sunnyslope's schedule was also much easier than Deer Valley.
Deer Valley was cleared for the post-season by the Arizona Interscholastic Association.
This matchup may look like a Sunnyslope victory on paper, but we predicting an intense battle between these two games.
Brophy vs. Westview:
In Division I, the 12th seeded Brophy Prep Broncos will head to Avondale to take on the fifth seeded 10-0 Westview Knights in Avondale.
Brophy finished with a disappointing 4-6 season after losing their quarterback early this season.
Westview will look to junior running back Jalen Johnson who rushed from 1,465 yards and 20 touchdown this season to get the win.
Basha vs. Horizon:
This game is one of our top picks this week. The tenth seeded Basha Bears at the seventh seed Horizon Huskies in North Phoenix.
Dalton Sneed, the Huskies quarterback, has thrown for 3,436 yards and 41 touchdowns. This team can score quickly when they need to.
Basha will also lean on their quarterback Zach Werlinger (with a hand injury) to keep the Bears in the game.
We expect this game to come down to the team that makes the least amount of mistakes on the field.
Bagdad vs. Gilbert Christian:
In Division VI, the playoffs are well underway. Gilbert Christian will host Bagdad.
Gilbert Christian has a high scoring offense, averaging more than 63 points per game.
Meantime, Bagdad comes into this game with a lot of size. Their team actually went out to Gilbert Christian and watched their 57-6 win over Ray. It was something Gilbert Christian's assistant coach Russel Davis called "an honor."
Thunderbird vs. Desert Edge:
In Division III, the 7-3 Thunderbird Chiefs can expect a tough matchup against the 10-0 Desert Edge Scorpions.
Thunderbird has been on a six-game winning streak since their 45-27 loss to Tempe in week four.
But Desert Edge has a quarterback-receiver duo with senior QB Anthony Hernandez and WR Elijah Marks, who set the single-season state record for receiving yards last week.
Tempe vs. Sabino:
Staying in Division III, the tenth seeded Tempe Buffaloes quarterback Emanuel Gant may have the ability and arm strength to take down the seventh seeded Sabino Sabercats.
If Gant's not throwing, you can expect to see junior running back Kam'rom Johnson with the ball.
Sabino will look to their go-to guy in senior tight end Matt Bushman.