CRAIG GRAU: Happy New Year - Tucson Local Media: Sports

CRAIG GRAU: Happy New Year

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Posted: Tuesday, August 19, 2008 11:00 pm

If it weren’t 100 degrees outside, you could hear ice thawing.

Fans of the pigskin wonderland yawn from hibernation, adapted to a calendar as foreign to the football illiterate as any Chinese or Hebrew chronology.

When high school kickers place footballs in tees, Aug. 29 becomes the new Jan. 1.

So find an aluminum patch of bleacher. Kick back and ignore the kinetic middle schoolers.

An entire summer’s two-a-day practices will unfold in spiraling endorphins, swaying poms, cheap hot dogs and dashed — albeit, unlikely — hopes of perfect seasons.

Prep football seasons offer their communities a rallying point, a reason to prop elbows on the fence and chat with neighbors about Friday’s game.

That’s a blessing.

Having several teams in the Northwest stocked with playoff potential is what electro-rockers Depeche Mode once called a “Personal Jesus.”

And if you’re betting, it helps to have divinity lining your pocket.

Just remember — predictions are man’s setup for cosmic punchlines.

Ironwood Ridge: Driven by revenge and senior will, the Nighthawks’ sole regular season loss comes at home, from Willow Canyon. Then they get angrier, cannibalize Sunnyside, and make state. Finish: 12-2, first in 5A Southern-II, state runner-ups.

Marana: Despite plenty of heart and defense, the Tigers step down a notch after losing key playmakers and much of their offense. Their region’s not the place for a rebuilding season. Finish: 5-5, third in 4A Sonoran, no playoffs.

Pusch Ridge: Good genes, experience and enthusiasm should carry the Knights a notch further this year. Traditional rivals play spoiler role. Finish: 9-3, second in 2A South, quarterfinals win.

Catalina Foothills: The sleeper of the bunch. Solid athleticism giddy with fresh leadership and new tools lead the feel-good Falcons to an upset over Santa Rita. Finish: 7-4, second in 4A Sonoran, first-round playoff exit.

Mountain View: The coin toss. Heads in the game, tails need to hustle. Many moving pieces, with solid line and wise leaders. Finish: 6-4, third in 5A Southern-II, first round playoff exit.

CDO: Gas squared. Outpunch them on the scoreboard, and they’re beatable. Sort of. And good luck. Finish: 12-2, first in 4A Sonoran, state runner-ups.

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