Desert Mountain (7-1) at Pinnacle (7-1)
Great battle between two one-loss teams that battling for playoff positioning. For Pinnacle, the playoffs start now with Desert Mountain this week and then Brophy next week to close out the season. No, losses in either game wont kill the Pioneers, but playoff intensity will be needed and both games will be a great indication to where they stand. Defense will be the difference for Pinnacle going up against the dynamic duo of juniors Kyle Allen and Mark Andrews for Desert Mountain who have connected 55 times through the air this season for over 1,000 yards and 15 touchdowns. Senior defensive backs Michael Harlan and Evan Tompkins for Pinnacle will be key and the leadership of leading tackler Matt Dietz will be crucial. The Wolves are coming off a good bounce back win against Willow Canyon after losing for the first time in 2012. It is important for them to continue the success going into the playoffs as well.
Mesa Mountain View (6-2) at Mountain Pointe (7-1)
The Mountain View Toros are one of the hottest teams in the state with six consecutive wins, three of which are against teams currently in the playoffs. The Mountain Pointe Pride were once the hottest team in the state after jumping out to a huge start to the 2012 season. Since the Pride’s first loss of the year to Brophy, they have rolled through the last two opponents. The key will be to see if the Toros can compete with the athleticism of Jalen Brown and Garette Craig who are as dynamic as you’ll see in the state. The play of Mountain View junior quarterback John Clark has been the talk of the town during this Toro streak. He will need to bring that A game we have seen once again for this one.
Chaparral (5-3) at Horizon (7-1)
Everyone remember Chaparral? The Chaparral team that lost heartbreakers in three of their first four games late in the fourth quarter. Since everyone seemingly turned the page on the Firebirds, they have won four straight in impressive fashion. Sure they are young and more inexperienced than we have seen in the last decade but coach Dave Huffine has this team playing very well at the right time. Friday will be a great test to see if Chaparral is still moving in the right direction as they face off against a very good Horizon Husky team. They have not lost to a division II opponent all season. The Huskies will look to cause problems for the young Firebirds offense and the man who will be leading the way is junior Kristian Salinas who has ten sacks and two forced fumbles on the season.
Cactus Shadows (2-6) at Paradise Valley (5-3)
Overall, Cactus Shadows have had a disappointing season. But Friday the Falcons will have the chance to re-write history in the state of Arizona. Quarterback Bryce Kinsler is less than 300 yards away from setting the state’s all-time passing record. He has already set the state record for passing yards in a game this season with 639 against Prescott. First he will look to pass former Falcon Phillip Aholt for the class 4A/Division II record which was set in 2006. He will then look to pass former Show Low Cougar Rathen Ricedorff who set the state record in 2010. Should be a special night for the Cactus Shadows program and will hope to get a good win in the process against a very solid Paradise Valley team. Trojan Quarterback and Boise State commit Ryan Finley leads the state in passing yards this season and will look to eclipse 2,500 yards and 200 completions in the game.
Cactus (6-2) at Sunrise Mountain (7-1)
Two extremely potent offenses looking to make up ground in division III before the playoffs. Both teams have scored over 50 points in a game five times this season. This game could be the first one to get a stop or last team to have the ball, wins. Coach Fetkenhier’s Cobras have a dominating three-headed monster running the football in junior Talal Yousugzai and sophomores Austin Marshall and Jaylon James who account for a combined 1,440 yards and 17 touchdowns. The Sunrise Mountain Mustangs get it down through the air with play making wide receiver Elroy Masters who has 780 yards receiving, 11 touchdowns and is raking in division I offers. Important game for both teams.
Show Low (8-0) at Blue Ridge (8-0)
Maybe the best rivalry in the state. A game that is the social event of the white mountains which brings in up to 10,000 people. Blue Ridge has won six of the last seven meetings with Show Low and have met in the state championship in each of the last three seasons. The Yellow Jackets are loaded again and are dominating the competition led by one of the top players in the state in Chans Cox and a dominating rushing attack led by junior Nolan Cook who has over 1,100 yards and 15 touchdowns on the season. The Cougars have had some close calls this season but still are undefeated going into Friday’s matchup. Show Low has a more balanced attack offensively with quarterback Colby Maxwell under center who’s thrown for over 1,100 yards, 18 touchdowns no interceptions. Could yet again be a state championship preview in division IV.