November 15, 2006 - The days leading up to the start of the football season were anxious ones. The sport in all its forms from the NFL to Pop Warner had been on hiatus for what felt like way too long. Exhibitions and practice can only suffice for so much.
Football was coming back and life, again, was soon to be reborn in all its gridiron glory. It's hard to fathom that the high school regular season has come and gone.
During those early days I laid out my predictions for the upcoming high school season and asked our readers to submit their prognostications and tell me whether I was crazy.
Well, no one took me to task.
Perhaps you should have - you might have even won some money had we bet. As it turns out, the season was a highly successful one and almost just like I predicted. Almost is the operative word here. Technically I got none of them right but most of them within a game.
Let's be honest, predicting anything sports related is a crapshoot (I know, nice excuse). Combining overall records I predicted all six schools to finish 36-23. They finished 35-24 (I know, way to bend the numbers in my favor).
Canyon Del Oro
My Prediction: 7-3, 3-2 Sonoran
Actual: 8-2, 4-1 Sonoran
"The Dorados make the playoffs but their streak of region titles comes to an end in the last game against rival Ironwood Ridge."
That was the quote I ran before the year. I was close. CDO ended up splitting the 4A Sonoran between Sabino High School and Ironwood Ridge. The Dorados would have won the region with a win over the Nighthawks in the final week but true to prediction, fell short.
Instead, CDO slipped to No. 9 in the power points and drew a road game against, wait for it … Ironwood Ridge.
My Prediction: 6-4, 4-1 Kino
Actual: 4-6, 1-4 Kino
"The Falcons shot at redemption against Cienega falls short, but Foothills once again squeaks into the playoffs thanks to a strong region record."
In fact, Cienega did beat Foothills 24-7 on Oct. 20 in Vail. Former Foothills quarterback Joseph Arreguin went on to lead the 4A Kino in passing, throwing for 1,494 yards and beating out, once again wait for it … Foothills' QB Cole Mayfield and his 1,043 yards in the air.
An inexperienced Foothills team failed to make the playoffs, however, due to its 1-4 division record.
My Prediction: 7-3, 4-1 Sonoran
Actual: 8-2, 4-1 Sonoran
"Bobby Farley should lead the region in passing. If the Nighthawks can replace the void left by running back Dakota McQuay, then this will be the year the program gets its first playoff win."
Wrong again. Farley did not win the Sonoran passing title. That went to CDO's Daniel Nicholas 1,892 to 1,584. Judging by Farley's excited state after the Nighthawks beat CDO, he doesn't mind. As for the running game, Junior D'juan Cherry stepped into the mix nicely rushing for a team high 726 yards and 13 touchdowns-none bigger than the game-sealing score against CDO.
My Prediction: 5-5, 2-3 Sonoran
Actual: 6-4, 2-3 Sonoran
"If Marana can eke out a few wins before quarterback Robert Rowe and right guard Manny Haley return to the lineup, the Tigers could be in decent shape heading into what will be an unforgiving region schedule. It takes a monumental win over Rincon in week eight but Marana gets back to .500."
Former head coach Anthony Coronado returned as an assistant coach and the Tigers more than returned to .500. The biggest reason was Marana's running game. Running back and Sonoran region rushing leader Tanner Henry and quarterback Robert Rowe combined for 2,416 yards on the ground.
On Oct. 20, Marana slipped by Rincon 35-34 and eventually finished 2-3 in the region.
My Prediction: 5-5, 2-3 Southern
Actual: 6-4, 3-2 Southern
"Coach Wayne Jones has one of the best running tandems in the state in Jared Hiller and Dan Moore. Weighing against Mountain View is a tough out-of-region schedule and what could be an even tougher region slate."
Running backs Jared Hiller and Dan Moore finished two and three in the Class 5A Southern in rushing. Despite the fact that the tandem rushed for 10 fewer yards than last year (1,363) Mountain View proved me wrong finishing 3-2 in the region with wins over Tucson and Flowing Wells high schools.
My Prediction: 6-3, 4-1 Central
Actual: 3-6, 3-2 Central
"Pusch Ridge lost a lot of weapons from last year's 2A Central winning team. They won't go undefeated but the Lions should again come out on top in the region."
Amazingly, Pusch Ridge qualified for the Class 2A state playoffs despite its 3-6 record - even though it took a tiebreaker to get them there. The Lions fell off from its perfect regular season (10-0) in 2005, due largely to inexperience in some skill positions.
Pusch Ridge started slow but turned it on late in the season winning its last two games. The Lions made the playoffs - and were eliminated in the first round by Thatcher High School - due largely to playing in a small conference.
In the Class 2A, 41 schools compete for 16 playoff spots.
I was sitting in on a film session early in the year when the Lions were struggling and heard my favorite quote of the year. It came from Pusch Ridge head coach Dave Brittain.
"The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result each time," explained the coach.
Call me insane, but I'm already looking forward to next season. Perhaps next year I'll get some of them right.