Welcome to the seventh week of the high school football season in Southern Arizona, with several regional rivalries taking place on Friday night.
First off, we’ll get the treat of watching an undefeated Canyon del Oro team face perhaps its best opponent to-date, in Catalina Foothills.
Ironwood Ridge makes the 60-plus mile trip to the border to face a resurgent Nogales team, with the Apaches winning four of their first five contests this season.
The Pusch Ridge Lions will look to push their nascent win streak to two, as they play winless Tanque Verde this week.
Elsewhere, the Mountain View Lions will head to Vail for a second straight week, this time playing 1-4 Empire, as Matt Johnson’s team seeks its second victory of the year.
The Marana Tigers head into Cochise County to face a surging Buena Colts team, as the Tigers seek their first taste of victory in 2019.
Without further ado, here’s how I see the half-dozen teams of northwest Tucson stacking up as we enter week seven of the high school football season:
1. Canyon del Oro Dorados (5-0)
Last Week: Bye Week
This Week: At Catalina Foothills (2-3)
The Dorados are coming off their lone bye week of the year with a head full of steam and a full roster for the first time this year. They’ll face a daunting task this week, as they head to Catalina Foothills to face a Falcons team fresh off an upset of previously unbeaten Pueblo on Friday night. The matchup to watch is whether the Dorados rushing attack can find space to run. If so, then it could be a heck of a night for Dustin Peace’s team.
2. Ironwood Ridge Nighthawks (2-3)
Last Week: Beat Desert View, 44-0
This Week: At Nogales (4-1)
The Nighthawks embarrassed Desert View on Friday night, with senior back Brandon Barrios hammering the Jaguars to the tune of 169 rushing yards and four touchdowns. This week’s opponent is a much stiffer test, however, as the Nogales Apaches are 4-1 for the year and are coming off a 62-16 shellacking of Empire. Expect Barrios to play a large role in the team’s offensive exploits once again, as James Hardy’s team looks to move back to .500 for the year with a win.
3. Catalina Foothills Falcons (2-3)
Last Week: Beat Pueblo, 19-0
This Week: Vs. Canyon del Oro (5-0)
The Falcons defense was at its best on Friday night, stymying a high-flying Pueblo offense, forcing three turnovers in a 19-0 victory. The Falcons will need much more of that come Friday night, as the Dorados bring one of the best running games in the city to the foothills, with Gavin Davis and Stevie Rocker in full health. Expect a defensive slugfest between the two 4A Kino region rivals, with the first team to score 20 winning a hard-fought ballgame.
4. Mountain View Lions (1-4)
Last Week: Lost to Cienega, 14-0
This Week: At Empire (1-4)
The Lions’ defense continues to amaze, holding a powerful Cienega offense to 14 points on Friday night. The issue, as has been the case for much of the year, was the team’s anemic offense, which failed to score in a 14-0 loss to the Bobcats. The Lions face a lightweight Empire team this week, which should give them a boost of energy entering the final stretch of the season. Winning out will not guarantee a playoff spot for the Lions, given the lack of quality teams in the 5A Sonoran region this year. Winning does heal most wounds, however, so it’ll be interesting to see if this week’s contest can springboard the team to a strong finish in year one under coach Matt Johnson.
5. Pusch Ridge Christian Academy Lions (2-3)
Last Week: Beat Fountain Hills, 21-14
This Week: Vs. Tanque Verde (0-5)
The Lions looked much better against Fountain Hills a week ago, with Jerry Harris’ run-heavy offense racking up 181 yards and four touchdowns on the ground against the Falcons. What’s even more encouraging for Harris’ team is that the Lions defense forced three interceptions, with senior defensive back Antone Brack hauling in two by himself. The Lions should get an easy win over the Hawks this week, before entering a tough four-game stretch to end the season, with Sahuarita, Sabino, Safford and Catalina Magnet in succession.
6. Marana Tigers (0-5)
Last Week: Bye Week
This Week: At Buena (4-1)
The Tigers lost season will look for a faint sign of a pulse in Sierra Vista this Friday, against a Colts offense that features dynamic QB Jovoni Borbon, who has 644 yards and 8 touchdowns through the air in five starts, as well as 405 yards and 4 touchdowns on the ground. The Tigers have been outscored 248-29 this season, so optimism is running in low supply at the agrarian high school. Things will likely get worse before they get better, but there is a silver lining in the playing time that the team’s talented core of underclassmen are receiving this fall. Expect Louie Ramirez’s team to rebound nicely in 2020, after taking their collective lumps this fall.