The first week of the high school football season is in the books, with a handful of memorable moments already taking place on the gridirons of Southern Arizona.
It was a solid week for most of northwest Tucson’s six football programs, with Ironwood Ridge, Canyon del Oro and Pusch Ridge Christian Academy all winning their opening games.
It was a bittersweet week for programs like Catalina Foothills, Marana and Mountain View—who all fell last Friday night.
The competition for the year’s first Three Stars installment was fierce, with several eye-popping performances of-note.
Without further ado, here’s who stood out the most in a crowded field in the opening week of the season:
3. Brandon Barrios
Ironwood Ridge senior
29 carries, 135 rushing yards/2 tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss
Barrios came up huge for the Nighthawks in the team’s 21-7 win over former coach Matt Johnson and the Mountain View Lions on Friday. The senior running back and linebacker shined on both sides of the ball, pacing the team’s offense, while making a couple of huge stops on the defensive side for the team. Perhaps the biggest play of the night for Barrios came when he blew up MVHS back Varney Larson in the shadows of the Nighthawks end zone on a fourth and goal run play, stopping the Lions back in the backfield for a turnover on downs. It was a week to remember for Barrios and company, earning him a spot on our list.
2. Evan Lovett
Pusch Ridge Christian Academy junior
18 carries, 128 rushing yards, 2 rushing touchdowns/3 tackles,
1.0 tackle for loss, 1 sack
Lovett dominated the line of scrimmage in the Lions’ 42-0 thrashing of Rio Rico on Friday night, picking up where he left off in a star-studded sophomore season. The junior back averaged a whopping 7.1 yards per carry, breaking the 100-yard plateau for the seventh time in 20 appearances. Lovett topped off his offensive stats with a solid effort at linebacker, picking up a sack and three tackles on that side of the ball for the Lions. Lovett is one of the top backs in the city, with a unique combination of speed and shiftiness in the backfield for Jerry Harris’ team. Expect the junior to continue torching opposing defenses this fall, topping a sophomore season where he ran for 1,192 yards and 13 touchdowns.
1. Gavin Davis
Canyon del Oro senior
13 carries, 135 rushing yards, 5 rushing touchdowns
Davis made a hell of a first impression in what was a spot-start at running back, gashing the Flowing Wells defense for 100-plus yards and five touchdowns on Friday. The Pusch Ridge transfer got the start after superstar starter Stevie Rocker went down in a preseason scrimmage with a high ankle sprain. He never missed a beat, averaging 10.4 yards per carry in a 59-0 win over the Caballeros, giving coach Dustin Peace another tantalizing talent in a backfield full of it this fall. Davis showed that he’s more than capable of giving Rocker a breather going forward, giving Peace a two-headed rushing attack that few programs can equal. It’ll be interesting to see what Davis’ role is once Rocker returns to health, though I’m sure he’ll see plenty of playing time, given his larger-than-life performance against the Caballeros in week one.