Week five of the high school football season is upon us, with several quality games to keep an eye on in our neck of the woods.
We’re set to see how the four programs that lost last Friday (Ironwood Ridge, Marana, Mountain View and Pusch Ridge Christian Academy) rebound this week, with the quartet facing difficult opponents this Friday.
It will be interesting to see how the region’s lone undefeated team, Canyon del Oro, fares against intra-district foe, Amphitheater. The Panthers enter Friday’s contest with a 3-1 mark for the year.
Without further ado, here’s how I see the half-dozen teams in northwest Tucson stacking up, from top to bottom:
All games kick off on Friday, Sept. 13, at 7 p.m.
1. Canyon del Oro (4-0)
Last Week: Beat Pusch Ridge Christian Academy, 21-0
This Week: At Amphitheater (3-1)
The Dorados rolled over a talented Lions team on homecoming night, thanks to a rushing attack that gained 297 yards on the ground. Running back Gavin Davis (127 yards) and quarterback Montana Neustadter (101 yards) led the charge offensively, while Mason Catterson and Alex Maldonado added 60 yards combined with a touchdown. The Dorados’ next foe will test their resolve, with the Panthers coming off three-straight wins, led by senior quarterback Kevin Silva, who’s thrown for 304 yards, four touchdowns and zero interceptions in four starts this season. A win over the Panthers will propel the Dorados to a 5-0 mark for the year, ahead of the team’s first regional contest, against Catalina Foothills, on Friday, Oct. 4.
2. Ironwood Ridge (1-2)
Last Week: Lost to Campo Verde, 28-14
This Week: At Centennial (2-1)
The Nighthawks were dealt a rough hand this season, facing three-straight state title contenders, in Millennial, Campo Verde and Centennial high schools, in succession. Ironwood Ridge has struggled against those squads so far, falling to the Tigers and Coyotes by a combined score of 63-34, with perhaps their toughest opponent to-date up next. Centennial is 2-1 this year, but have beaten two Arizona powers Casteel and Cienega to the tune of 72-41 this season. The Coyotes’ lone loss came to Orange County, California heavyweight Mater Dei, who rolled over Centennial, 71-21, in Peoria. James Hardy’s team will have its hands full this week, against a Centennial team that beat Nighthawks, 55-7, in 2018.
3. Pusch Ridge Christian Academy (1-2)
Last Week: Lost to Canyon del Oro, 21-0
This Week: At Snowflake (3-1)
The Lions find themselves in the middle of the pack this week, simply because they have won a game this season. The Lions have struggled in their last two contests, falling to Walden Grove and CDO by a combined total of 48-0. Jerry Harris’ team has a lot of young talent on its roster, but that talent must show itself soon, or else the team is in for a lost fall on the gridiron. The Lions have a solid shot at regaining their footing in the White Mountains this week, facing a Snowflake team that has blanked its last two opponents, in Florence and Page.
4. Catalina Foothills (1-3)
Last Week: Lost to Sabino, 20-14
This Week: Bye Week
The Falcons lost a tough one against regional rival Sabino at home last Friday night, falling to 1-3 for the year. Darius Kelly’s team entered the fourth quarter trailing 20-7, but scored a touchdown to get within six of their foothills brethren. The team couldn’t get another score, and fell for the third time in four games, putting themselves in a tough position heading into region play. The Falcons have a week off to ponder their fortunes ahead of a southside showdown with an undefeated Pueblo team Sept. 27. A positive for Kelly and his staff is the steadying presence of senior quarterback Conner Alubowicz, who has thrown for 579 yards, six touchdowns and three interceptions this season. Expect the Falcons to be ready to roll come a week from Friday, as their postseason lives likely hang in the balance.
5. Mountain View (0-3)
Last Week: Lost to Casteel, 25-13
This Week: Vs. Tucson High School (3-1)
The Lions are still looking for their first victory of the year heading into Friday, welcoming in a Badgers team that’s beaten Phoenix’s Alhambra and North high schools by a combined score of 81-14. The Badgers have one of the best backs in the city, with senior Gary Love putting up 429 yards and four touchdowns this year, averaging 107.3 yards per game this season. A key to the Lions’ success on Friday night will be the play of junior QB Hayden Parson, who threw for 93 yards and three interceptions in the team’s first two games. The issue is that coach Matt Johnson’s Midas touch with running the ball has yet to come to fruition with Mountain View, as the team’s leading rusher, Shaun Buttigieg, has 43 rushing yards, and the team has two rushing touchdowns to its name this year. The Lions are going to have to basically win out from here to have a shot at qualifying for the 16-team state playoffs in all likelihood, so there’s little room for error, starting with Friday’s showdown with the Badgers
6. Marana (0-4)
Last Week: Lost to Desert View, 33-14
This Week: At Williams Field (2-2)
No team in northwest Tucson has been as much of an on-field enigma as the Tigers, who entered the year with a young, talented roster, yet sit at 0-4. The Tigers are a train wreck on both sides of the ball, with junior quarterback Kai Spencer completing 41.7 percent of his passes for 27 yards, zero scores and three interceptions. Spencer is far from the only Marana player that’s found the early season to be difficult, as the team is averaging 1.9 yards per carry on the ground, which is an eye-popping stat for a team that’s been one of the most explosive offenses in the state over the last half-decade. There are no easy solutions for the Tigers, sadly, with the season fast approaching lost cause territory and an unrelenting schedule that sees them travel to Queen Creek to face Williams Field this Friday. Here’s hoping Louie Ramirez and his staff can help the Tigers find their footing soon, or else it’s looking to be a long year for the agrarian high school on the fringes of Marana this fall.