Welcome to the opening round of the postseason for high school football teams across the Grand Canyon State.
Week 11 of the season saw Marana get its first taste of victory, Mountain View rolling once again, Pusch Ridge going out on a high note and Canyon del Oro falling in a shocking upset.
The Tigers knocked off Nogales at home, 29-24, on Friday night, ending the year on a high note after nine-straight losses.
Mountain View blew the doors off Flowing Wells, 55-10, to finish the year with a 6-4 record, thanks to an offensive explosion.
The Pusch Ridge Lions had an equally impressive finale, blanking Catalina Magnet, 61-0 to finish with a 5-5 record.
The Catalina Foothills Falcons and CDO Dorados both fell in their finales, with the Falcons losing to Sahuaro, 25-0, while the Dorados were upset by Casa Grande, 19-17.
Before we put a bow on the 2019 regular season, it’s time we take a look at the performances turned in the campaign’s final week.
Without further ado, here’s who stood out the most during week 11 of the high school football season in northwest Tucson.
3. Tyler Mustain (Pusch Ridge Christian Academy freshman)
Stats: 7 carries, 116 rushing yards, 2 rushing touchdowns
Mustain led the way on the ground for the Lions in a 61-point demolition of an overmatched Catalina Magnet team on Friday. The freshman averaged an eye-popping 16.6 yards per carry against the Trojans, with a long of 55 yards in the team’s victory. The Lions might have missed the 3A postseason, but should be in fine form in 2020, thanks to the talent that backs like Mustain and junior Evan Lovett possess.
2. Sam Brown (Marana freshman quarterback)
Stats: 17/25, 155 passing yards, 2 passing touchdowns (1 interception), 9 carries, 29 rushing yards
The wily freshman led the Tigers to their first taste of victory at home on Friday night, guiding the home side past a much-improved Nogales Apaches team. Brown managed Friday’s game about as well as could be expected, hitting on 68 percent of his passes, while averaging 9.1 yards per completion in the win. The freshman was also efficient with his legs, carrying the ball nine times, with a long of 12 yards for Louie Ramirez’s team. Brown should find himself atop the team’s depth chart at QB in the years to come, possibly filling the void at the position that 2019 graduate Trenton Bourguet left this fall. Expect Brown to continue his ascendancy under center, with a host of skills that should only blossom from here.
1. Giovanni Ciaccio (Mountain View junior quarterback/cornerback)
Stats: 7/9, 162 passing yards, 3 passing touchdowns, 5 carries, 24 rushing yards, 1 rushing touchdown
Ciaccio was a revelation in the Lions’ 55-10 win over the Caballeros on Friday night, completing 77.8 percent of his passes, while carving up Flowing Wells’ defense all night long. The junior has been excellent in his two starts at quarterback this year, throwing for 311 yards and four touchdowns against Desert View and Flowing Wells, while gaining 68 yards and a touchdown on the ground. The Lions are the 16th seed in the 5A playoffs, playing top-seed Williams Field in Gilbert on Friday night. They’ll likely need Ciaccio to be at his best to have a shot at knocking off the mighty Black Hawks on Friday night. If he plays the way he has in the team’s last two games then the Lions will have a puncher’s chance.