Lots of key games this week as the high school football season starts winding down, and we preview a few of the games we'll be highlighting on our Friday Night Blitz high school football show Friday night at 10:00 p.m.
#6 Horizon (7-1) at #8 Pinnacle (6-2)
A key Division I match-up between two top ten teams (based on this week's AIA Power Rankings) that features the high scoring Huskies against the Pioneers.
Pinnacle is 6-0 against Horizon all-time, but the Huskies will give the Pioneers all they can handle this time around.
Given the fact that both teams feature solid offense with the ability to score points seemingly at will, this game could come down to which team can control the line of scrimmage.
Like the Huskies, the Pioneers are scoring lots of points, so defense will be as important as special teams in this one. The trouble with Pinnacle is that the guys up front aren't quite as big as Horizon, so the Huskies get the nod up front.
With Horizon featuring the spread offense that can really score points, Pinnacle might be better off utilizing some type of ball control offense, hoping to keep Horizon's offense off the field.
Again, this one should be a solid, fun game to watch with two teams who are scoring a lot of points and could both play deep into the play-offs.
#15 Boulder Creek (4-4) at #24 North Canyon (2-6)
While not the same type of game that Horizon and Pinnacle will be, this game gives us a look at the Boulder Creek Jaguars, a team that's beaten Desert Vista, Corona, Sandra Day O'Connor and Mountain Ridge.
Coach Cornelius Bowick's North Canyon Rattlers have been struggling this season with wins, but they have been able to score points. If the Rattlers can manage to find some defense, they have a shot at the upset, but expect the Jaguars to come away with win number five!
#9 Higley (7-1) at #2 Saguaro (7-1)
Talk about a great Division III match-up! Two schools that are winning and are expected to make deep runs in the play-offs.
Eddy Zubey's Knights suffered two early season losses because of forfeit (Higley played an ineligible transfer player) but since then, the Knights have been scoring points and playing solid defense. In fact, the Knights lone loss since the two forfeits was to powerhouse Queen Creek.
Quarterback Tyler Bloom has thrown for more than 2,200 yards and 24 touchdowns to go with just six interceptions.
Compare those numbers to Saguaro's Luke Rubenzer who's thrown for 2,165 yards, 31 touchdowns and just three interceptions. Rubenzer's favorite target is J.T. Nettleton, who has 866 yards receiving and 14 T.D.'s!
This one could end up being a shoot-out, but Jason Mohn's Sabercats are tough to beat at home!
#17 Cactus Shadows (5-3) at #3 Chaparral (7-1)
While this one has some sizzle, you have to believe that the Dave Huffine's Firebirds will continue their winning ways, especially taking on the Falcons at home.
Junior quarterback Sean Paul Brophy has thrown for more than 1,300 yards, with 12 touchdowns and just four interceptions, but it's senior running back Elijah Castro that seems to be the engine that moves the Chaparral offense. Castro has 820 yards rushing and 11 touchdowns and has also caught 17 passes for 221 yards. He's averaging 7.59 yards per carry on the ground and 13 yards per catch.
The Falcons are led by two running backs who seem to share the load on offense: Senior Joe Kuhlmann who has 563 yards and eight touchdowns and Sophomore Antonio Marchica who has 529 yards and five touchdowns.
Again, when Chaparral is firing on all cylinders, their tough to beat, especially at home!
#6 Mesquite (7-1) at #5 Marcos de Niza (6-2)
In another Division II match-up, Coach Jim Jones brings his Mesquite Wildcats to Marcos, where the Padres are 3-0 at home, and surprisingly, have only played three home games so far this season.
Marcos QB Josh Eckley has thrown for 1,484 yards, 23 touchdowns and just six interceptions, but he's done most of that on a sore ankle. He's also run for 543 yards and 8 touchdowns.
But Coach Jones has the Wildcats moving, having beaten teams like Ironwood, Corona, Westwood and Cactus. Expect this one to evolve into a shoot-out, much like the Higley at Saguaro game might, but it will be a fun game to watch. After all, it is our Game of the Week!
#9 Salome (6-2) at #8 Valley Lutheran (5-3)
The Division VI playoffs are underway and this week, we feature the one game being played here in the Valley on Friday night, the Salome Frogs against the Valley Lutheran Flames.
Coach Mike O'Boyle's Frogs started off 6-0 before falling to Bagdad and St. David, but they're capable of pulling off the upset even with the 140 mile drive between Salome and Gilbert. (The game will be played at Gilbert Christian).
Meanwhile, Bob Wolf's Flames have been solid down the stretch, winning their last three games and giving them the 8th seed in the playoffs. Anytime you're watching 8-man football, you can expect a wide open, high scoring game with lots of fireworks. We expect nothing less as the Division VI playoffs kick off in Gilbert.
Be sure to catch our Friday Night Blitz high school football coverage on ABC15 News at 10:00 p.m. for the earliest look at high school football highlights in the Valley!