Welcome to week seven of the high school football season, with playoff implications ratcheting up by the hour.
We’ve meandered our way through the non-region section of the schedule, with playoff berths on the line as the on-field action heats up.
This week’s schedule includes tantalizing rivalries, such as Canyon del Oro against Catalina Foothills, or Ironwood Ridge against an upstart Nogales squad.
It also allows some struggling teams to try to find their footing, with Marana (at Buena) and Mountain View (at Cholla) hitting the road on Friday.
Pusch Ridge Christian Academy will look to win its second consecutive game, hosting a winless Tanque Verde team, with a chance at getting to .500 for the season.
Before we put a bookend on week six, here are the top performances from the week that was on the gridirons of Southern Arizona.
3. Evan Lovett (Pusch Ridge Christian Academy junior running back)
Stats: 12 carries, 51 rushing yards, 2 rushing touchdowns
Lovett was excellent in limited dosage in the Lions’ 21-14 win over Fountain Hills, chewing up the Falcons defense. His exploits allowed the Lions to halt their three-game losing streak, beating the Falcons, 21-14, to improve to 2-3 for the season. It’ll be interesting to see if Lovett touches the ball more this week, against a winless Tanque Verde squad, as his 12 carries are on the low end for someone with his prodigal talent.
2. Antone Brack (Pusch Ridge Christian Academy senior defensive back/wide receiver)
Stats: 7 tackles, 2 interceptions, 1.0 tackle for loss, 1 forced fumble/36 receiving yards
Brack was a tour de force on the defensive side of the ball on Friday night, picking off two Fountain Hills passes and forcing a fumble in the team’s seven-point victory. Brack made Fountain Hills senior quarterback Shane Davenport’s night miserable, stepping in the way of several of his passes to give the Lions life in an otherwise tight ballgame. The Lions defense came to play on Friday, forcing four turnovers, with Brack being responsible for three of them alone. It’ll be interesting to see what kind of impact Brack has on the defensive side of the ball this week against the Hawks, who are 0-5 this year.
1. Brandon Barrios (Ironwood Ridge senior running back)
Stats: 19 carries, 168 rushing yards, 4 rushing touchdowns/13 receiving yards
Barrios put on a one-man exhibition in the Nighthawks’ 44-0 demolition of an overmatched Desert View squad on Friday, running for a career-high four rushing touchdowns in the win. The senior was relentless in galloping over, around and through a host of Jaguars defenders, finding the end zone with relative ease in the team’s one-sided romp. Barrios’ exploits allowed him to triple his rushing touchdowns, from two to six, in one game, giving the Nighthawks a solid boost heading into their showdown with a 4-1 Nogales team this week. Barrios is averaging 99 rushing yards per game this year and has been a revelation in the backfield for James Hardy Jr. and company this fall. He’ll be asked to do more of the same down the stretch, as the Nighthawks look to go on a run and qualify for the state playoffs under the first-year head coach.