Welcome to the ninth week of the high school football regular season, with the state playoffs coming into focus across the state.
We have a host of tantalizing contests on the schedule this week, including the battle between undefeated stalwarts, Canyon del Oro and Salpointe Catholic.
There’s also contests involving resurgent squads, as Ironwood Ridge goes for four straight wins, playing a 2-5 Sunnyside squad.
The Catalina Foothills Falcons, Pusch Ridge Christian Academy Lions and Mountain View Lions are all looking to extend win streaks of their own this week.
Read all about those contests below, with our predictions for each game attached. Enjoy what should be the best week, competitively speaking, of the high school football season to-date.
Canyon del Oro (7-0) at Salpointe Catholic (6-0)
Location: Salpointe Catholic High School (1545 E. Copper Street)
The Dorados and Lancers have met eight times, between 2004 and 2018, with Canyon del Oro last winning in 2004. The Lancers crushed CDO in Oro Valley in 2018, 49-6, and have won seven straight contests against the Dorados overall.
Prediction: The Lancers are the best team in Southern Arizona by a healthy margin right now, outscoring opponents, 229-50 this season. They feature do-it-all back, Bijan Robinson, who might be the greatest running back in Tucson’s history, usurping CDO’s own Ka’Deem Carey in some respects. Robinson leads all rushers in Tucson with 1,473 yards and 27 rushing touchdowns this season, while senior quarterback Jackson Bolin has quietly thrown for 12 touchdown passes while only tossing a single interception this season. All of this is to say that the Lancers should roll over the Dorados this week, beating CDO for an eighth-straight contest, 49-21.
Ironwood Ridge (4-3) vs. Sunnyside (2-5)
Location: Ironwood Ridge High School (2475 W. Naranja Drive)
The Nighthawks and Blue Devils have met 10 times, with each side winning five times. The two met in the 2018 regular season, with Ironwood Ridge winning that contest, 29-12.
Prediction: The Nighthawks have won three-straight contests, thanks in large part to the performance turned in by senior back Brandon Barrios, who has 979 yards and 12 touchdowns on the ground this year. I expect the Nighthawks to continue their roll, cruising past Sunnyside, 38-14.
Catalina Foothills (3-4) at Casa Grande (4-3)
Location: Casa Grande High School (2730 N. Trekell Road, Casa Grande)
The Falcons and Cougars have met three times, with the Falcons beating Casa Grande, 14-7 in Tucson last season.
Prediction: The Falcons are flying high right now, after smashing fellow Casa Grande program, Vista Grande, 61-14 last Friday. I expect them to face a tougher test this Friday, but for them to ace that test, beating the Cougars on the road, 28-21.
Mountain View (3-4) at Rincon/University (4-3)
Location: Rincon/University High School (421 N. Arcadia Boulevard)
The Lions and Rangers have met nine times since 2009, with Mountain View winning each contest. The Lions won last year’s game, 51-0.
Prediction: The Rangers are much improved this season, under coach Mike Strack, but are not talented enough to stop the Lions attack on Friday. I’m going with Mountain View to get back to .500 in a hard-fought contest, with the Lions winning this one, 21-14.
Pusch Ridge Christian Academy (4-3) vs. Sabino (5-2)
Location: Pusch Ridge Christian Academy (9500 N. Oracle Road)
The Lions and Sabercats have met three times, with Sabino winning two of those contests. Sabino defeated PRCA in 2018, 23-7.
Prediction: Sabino is one of the best teams in 3A this season, though Evan Lovett has PRCA in fine shape as well entering the latter half of the season. This one is a coinflip game in the truest sense, with each side playing good ball right now. I think Sabino has just enough offensive weapons to outlast the Lions on the road, 35-28.
Marana (0-7) vs. Cienega (5-2)
Location: Marana High School (12000 W. Emigh Road)
The Tigers and Bobcats have met eight times since 2006, with Cienega winning all eight contests. The Bobcats won two times against Marana last year, beating them, 44-28 in the regular season and 49-28 in the 5A playoffs.
Prediction: The Bobcats are far too talented to get tripped up on Friday night, against a Marana team that’s counting the hours till season’s end. I’ll go with Cienega comfortably in this one, 49-14.