After an exciting ten weeks of football, the Arizona state football tournament gets underway on Friday. Without a doubt, most of the divisions have as much parity as we have seen in quite some time. The following is an outlook of division’s one through five with some intriguing possible matchups, possible Cinderella’s and my prediction of the state championship game matchup and winner. Quick hint, its good to be a three or four seed.
There are a lot of possible rematches in this bracket. Desert Mountain-Mesa Mountain View in the first round, Red Mountain-Brophy and Hamilton-Desert Vista in the second round and finally Mountain Pointe-Brophy and Hamilton-Desert Ridge in the final four. All rematches could possibly give different outcomes than seen earlier this season. With teams being familiar with each other, some of these games have the potential to be incredible. I think five teams have the talent to win this bracket but unfortunately there can only be one.
Cinderella: None here in this division as lame as that sounds. I have the top four seeds advancing to the final four.
Finals matchup: #4 Brophy vs. #3 Hamilton – A rematch of the 2008 state championship in which Hamilton won 17-10.
State Champion: Brophy Broncos. Most division I talent of any team in the state. Well-coached on top of it. They have been rolling since the second half of their game against Mountain Pointe and I don’t see that stopping any time soon.
This might be the deepest field of all the divisions in the state. I love potential second matchups between Chaparral and Marcos as well as Chavez and Centennial. Salpointe snuck into the number one seed after knocking off Ironwood Ridge the final week of the season. But Ironwood Ridge could have a slightly easier road to the championship game as a result as they will not have to go through Centennial to get there.
Cinderella: Chaparral. Feels weird saying Chaparral as a cinderella but the truth is they are a seven seed and started 1-3. They finished on a six game winning streak and dominated rival Saguaro to end the season.
Finals matchup: #4 Centennial vs. #3 Ironwood Ridge. Re-match of a game played in Tucson earlier in the season in which Ironwood Ridge knocked off the then top ranked Coyotes.
State Champion: Centennial Coyotes. Back as state champs and this time get the better of Ironwood Ridge in a game played more in their neck of the woods.
A very top-heavy division that had four teams finish undefeated and two more finish with one loss. That doesn’t include the two teams that were in the state championship last year in the division, Saguaro and Cactus who also have the talent and experience to make a run. The top three seeds, Desert Edge, Queen Creek and Sabino did not face off this season. You know Tyler Rogers and Liberty would love another crack at Desert Edge in a possible final four matchup. Before that happens, a possible second round matchup between Desert Edge and Saguaro could have state championship intensity.
Cinderella: Thunderbird. Have maybe the best running back in the state in Kani Benoit who has had a monster senior season and has experience carrying a team on his back in the playoffs. He did it as a sophomore. The Chiefs will have to upset Maricopa and possibly hand Queen Creek and Sabino their first losses of the season to get to the title game.
Finals matchup: #4 Liberty vs. #3 Sabino. If Liberty didn’t act like the U of A in the red zone against Oregon in their matchup against Desert Edge, that game would have had a much different outcome. The game also woke Liberty up after they sailed through the first few weeks of the season. I think Sabino has more talent than any team in their side of the bracket and will get state with relative ease.
State Champ: Sabino Sabercats. Despite the fact that they haven’t been tested all season, they have quite a bit of college talent and have great size in the trenches to dominate the line of scrimmage.
The state championship will have to go through Paul Moro’s Blue Ridge Yellow Jackets who look as dominant as ever on both sides of the football. The bottom half of the bracket could bring all sorts of drama. A potential semi-final matchup between Show Low and Seton Catholic could be a shootout between two very talented offenses.
Cinderella: No real cinderella in this bracket. I see the top four seeds advancing to the final four.
Finals matchup: #3 Seton Catholic vs #1 Blue Ridge. As stated before, Seton-Show Low has the makings for one of the exciting matchups in the playoffs in any division. Seton might have just a little too much fire power for Show Low and they get the chance to de-throne Blue Ridge.
State Champ: Blue Ridge Yellow Jackets. As stacked and as dominant as ever. Having quite possibly the best college prospect in the 2013 class is just part of the story of this team.
Like Blue Ridge in Division IV, Division V will have to go through Northwest Christian who has had a remarkable season. But the road will not be easy. A possible matchup with Scottsdale Christian Academy waits in the wings in the semi-finals. Tempe Prep is also a force to be reckoned with as they enter post season play the lone team to beat Northwest Christian this season and are hoping to build off that momentum. They will have hand the Morenci Wildcats their first loss if they intend to make it to the championship game.
Cinderella: Top four seeds advance to semi-finals.
Finals matchup: #3 Tempe Prep vs. #1 Northwest Christian. A rematch from the final week of season that saw Tempe Prep hand the Crusaders their only loss of the year.
State Champ: Northwest Christian Crusaders. It should be another game that comes down to the wire but this time I see Trevor Osborne and the Northwest Christian defense being too much to handle the second time around.