Two weeks of high school football have come and gone in Southern Arizona, giving us a touch of clarity as to the hierarchy of teams in our midst.
It was a tough week for the three teams that took the field last Friday, with Catalina Foothills and Marana both falling on the road.
The Canyon del Oro Dorados were able to stymie the Prescott High School Badgers on the road, 23-13, running their record to 2-0 for the season.
This week’s schedule features a much more robust slate of games, with CDO hosting Apache Junction, while winless locals Marana and Catalina Foothills meet at the latter’s facility.
Both Ironwood Ridge and Mountain View find themselves traveling to the Phoenix metroplex, with the former playing Millennium in Goodyear, while Mountain View plays Higley in Gilbert.
The Pusch Ridge Christian Academy Lions will travel to Sahuarita to play Walden Grove on Friday, closing the book on what should be a red-hot week of football.
Without further ado, here’s how I see the region’s six schools shaking out, through two weeks of action:
[All upcoming games at 7 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 6]
1. Canyon del Oro (2-0, 0-0)
Last Week: Beat Prescott, 23-13
This Week: Vs. Apache Junction (1-1)
The Dorados survived a stiff test from the Badgers in northern Arizona on Friday night to run their record to 2-0 for the season. CDO welcomes an Apache Junction team that is fresh off a 32-27 loss to Tempe, with the Prospectors allowing the Buffaloes to run roughshod through them, with Tempe gaining 397 yards on the ground in the game. It’ll be interesting to see how senior back Gavin Davis fares in Friday’s contest, after consecutive 100-yard performances to begin the year. The Dorados will need more consistency from their quarterback combo of Matt Neustadter and Jared Vazquez, who have combined to complete 36.4 percent of their passes for 188 yards in two games this season. If they can do so, then the Dorados will likely have little trouble with Apache Junction this week, though any complications could derail the team’s early season success.
2. Ironwood Ridge (1-0, 0-0)
Last Week: Bye Week
This Week: At Millennium (1-0)
The Nighthawks had a week to rest up, after they knocked off former coach Matt Johnson and the Mountain View Lions on Aug. 23. The Nighthawks will need to be in fine form this week, facing a Tigers team that walloped Maricopa, 47-0 in their opener on Aug. 30. IRHS will have to keep an eye on Millennium quarterback Jalan Early, who threw for 144 yards and four touchdowns a week ago, while leading the team, with 67 yards on the ground in the blowout win. The Nighthawks will likely lean heavily on senior running back Brandon Barrios on Friday, after Barrios’ 29 carry, 135-yard showing in the opener. Expect this one to be a defensive slugfest, with both teams in fine form through one game of the season.
3. Pusch Ridge Christian Academy (1-0, 0-0)
Last Week: Bye Week
This Week: At Walden Grove (1-0)
The Lions pounded Rio Rico in their opener two weeks ago, running for 281 yards in a 42-0 win over the Hawks near the border. Junior back Evan Lovett was a tour de force in the victory, with 128 yards and two touchdowns on the ground, while junior Gabriel Castro had three scores for the Lions in the victory. The Red Wolves demolished Flowing Wells in their lone game of the season, blanking the Caballeros, 56-0. The Lions will be pressed to stop WGHS senior gunslinger Alex Lopez, who completed 81.8 percent of his passes for 170 yards and four scores in the win, while scoring a touchdown on the ground as well. The Red Wolves are a well-coached club, under Corey Noble’s leadership, and will test Jerry Harris’ squad in all facets of the game. Expect this one to be a hard-fought game that comes down to the wire, with both sides featuring a host of talent at skill positions on both sides of the ball.
4. Mountain View (0-1, 0-0)
Last Week: Bye Week
This Week: At Higley (0-2)
The Lions got a week off after falling to IRHS, 21-7, in their opening contest. That week of rest should come in handy, with Higley ahead on the schedule. The Knights are winless this season, but have played a brutal schedule, falling to Alemany High School of Mission Hills, California and Horizon of Scottsdale this year. The Knights have been outscored in the two contests by a 107-37 margin but will test coach Matt Johnson’s team in every way possible this week. Junior quarterback Kai Millner will have the Knights ready to roll on Friday night, with the 6’2 gunslinger completing 19-of-26 passes for 164 and a touchdown this year. Expect a helluva contest in the southeastern fringes of Phoenix this week, with both teams looking for their first taste of victory this season.
5. Catalina Foothills (0-2, 0-0)
Last Week: Lost to Cactus, 13-0
This Week: Vs. Marana (0-2)
Darius Kelly’s first season at CFHS has gotten off to a rough start, with consecutive losses to Buena and Cactus. The Falcons have struggled to find much of a pulse offensively this season, though senior quarterback Conner Alubowicz is slowly coming into form for Kelly and company. Alubowicz completed 16-of-32 passes for 172 in the team’s loss to Cactus last week, while running for 40 yards on seven carries, and should perform better as the season progresses. Expect the Falcons to look a lot better than they have so far as the season moves forward, with this week’s matchup against fellow 0-2 squad Marana next on the docket.
6. Marana (0-2, 0-0)
Last Week: Lost to Fairfax, 58-12
This Week: At Catalina Foothills (0-2)
Year two of the Louie Ramirez era has not been pretty so far, with the Tigers falling to Horizon and Fairfax by a combined margin of 113-15. The Tigers have looked moribund offensively, with junior QB Kai Spencer completed 6-of-16 passes for -3 yards this season, while the team is averaging 1.9 yards per carry as a whole in two contests. The Tigers are a very young squad, which means they’re due for collective growing pains. It’ll be interesting to see if the team is able to punch its way off the ropes against the Falcons this week, or if they’re in for a long and turbulent fall.