Welcome to week eight of the high school football season, with each team cementing their place in the playoff picture.
The Canyon del Oro Dorados, Ironwood Ridge Nighthawks and Pusch Ridge Christian Academy Lions all took care of business and did their part to boost their playoff resume last Friday, Sept. 28.
All three beat their respective opponents by double-digits, with the Dorados beating Catalina Foothills, 33-21—while Ironwood Ridge beat Nogales, 39-3, and Pusch Ridge beat Tanque Verde High School, 60-0.
We’re down to the final four games of the regular season, which means that each team has a shot at taking a huge step forward in the week ahead.
The Nighthawks host a Marana Tigers squad that’s on a two-game losing streak, with a chance at grabbing ahold of the Division 5A Southern region lead.
The Dorados head to east Tucson to face a solid Sahuaro Cougars squad that’s 5-2 this year, with second place in the 4A Kino region on the line.
The Lions of Pusch Ridge host Sahuarita in Oro Valley, with a chance at extending their win streak to three with a victory.
The Mountain View Lions will look to build on their first win of the season against Empire at home on Friday, a week after hammering Cholla 55-9 on the road.
The Catalina Foothills Falcons will look to rebound from their hard-fought loss to CDO against Vista Grande at home on Friday.
Without further ado, here’s how I see the six high school programs on the northwest edge of Tucson stacking up:
1. Canyon del Oro Dorados (5-1)
Last Week: Defeated Catalina Foothills, 33-21
This Week: At Sahuaro High School, 7 p.m. Friday
The Dorados extended their win streak to five games on Friday night against the Falcons, with senior quarterback Zach Eidenschink tossing for 306 yards and three touchdown passes in the win. Senior back Diego Munguia ran for 92 yards in a spot start for sophomore starter Stevie Rocker, who missed the game with an ankle injury. The Dorados have a shot at putting themselves in solid playoff position against the Cougars this week, in a battle of two of Southern Arizona’s pleasant surprises of the season.
2. Marana Tigers (4-2)
Last Week: Lost to Buena, 41-28
This Week: At Ironwood Ridge High School, 7 p.m. Friday
The Tigers have hit a bit of a rough patch, falling in back-to-back games against Williams Field and Sierra Vista Buena by a combined sum of 32 points. The Tigers’ path to the playoffs doesn’t get any easier this week, with a road trip to Ironwood Ridge to face a red-hot Nighthawks squad that’s won two straight games. It’ll be interesting to see if quarterback Trenton Bourguet and do-it-all receiver Isaiah Roebuck are back in the lineup this week, after each missed Friday’s contest with the Colts due to injury. The Tigers are still a very talented team, but need a win on Friday to cement their lofty position in the 5A polls.
3. Ironwood Ridge Nighthawks (3-3)
Last Week: Beat Nogales, 39-3
This Week, Vs. Marana, 7 p.m. Friday
The Nighthawks have risen from the metaphorical ashes in recent weeks, hammering Desert View and Nogales in consecutive weeks by a combined sum of 87-18. Matt Johnson’s team has a chance to announce its formal return to playoff contention this Friday with a home game against the Tigers in Oro Valley. The Nighthawks success this season has come on offense because of the every-down production of senior back Nathan Grijalva, who has accumulated 694 rushing yards on 119 carries this season, with five 100-yard outings and six touchdowns to his name. Grijalva and junior QB Octavio Audry-Cobos, who has 11 touchdowns and 835 yards to his name, have given the Nighthawks offense an added spark ahead of a must-see game against Marana this week.
4. Pusch Ridge Christian Academy Lions (3-3)
Last Week: Beat Tanque Verde High School, 60-0
This Week: Vs. Sahuarita, 7 p.m. Friday
The Lions, like Ironwood Ridge, have woken up from an early season funk, winning two straight over Fountain Hills and Tanque Verde. The Lions will be put to the test by Don Watt’s Mustangs squad, who enter Friday’s clash with a 4-2 record and an offense that harkens back to the team’s performance under former coach David Rodriguez, averaging 32.5 points per game this season. Expect sophomore back Evan Lovett to have another big game for the Lions, as he leads the team in rushing yards (540) and rushing touchdowns (8) this season.
5. Catalina Foothills Falcons (2-4)
Last Week: Lost to CDO, 33-21
This Week: Vs. Vista Grande, 7 p.m. Friday
The Falcons couldn’t come up with big stops when they needed them a at CDO last week, falling by 12 points and snapping their momentum garnered in a 19-point win over Pueblo the week before. The Falcons get a bit of a reprieve this week, hosting a Vista Grande squad that’s 2-5 this year, ahead of a matchup with Casa Grande High School next Friday.
6. Mountain View Lions (1-5)
Last Week: Beat Cholla, 55-6
This Week: Vs. Empire, 7 p.m. Friday
The Lions got their first win of the year over the Chargers on Friday night, taking out five weeks of frustration against the Chargers in a 49-point romp. This week’s game presents another opportunity for carnage, as the Lions face a 2-4 Ravens team that lost to Flowing Wells by 36 points on Friday night. It’ll be interesting to see how sophomore quarterback Hayden Parson, who is averaging 179.7 passing yards this year, handles Empire’s defense, and whether the team’s struggles running the ball continue this week. It’ll also be interesting to see how the team fares in slowing down Ravens’ running back Wyatt Jeffries, who leads the team with 122.3 rushing yards per game this season.