No matter the level, no matter the sport, coaches preach to their players, “It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish.”
We here at Inside Preps don’t wear a whistle, so we would like to use this space to salute the one local football community that has burst out of the gate faster than all the rest, the only East Valley city with multiple schools where perfection still lives.
Care to guess?
No, it’s not Scottsdale, which produced a pair of state champions in 2007 in Saguaro and Notre Dame.
It’s not Mesa, which sent all seven of its schools to the state playoffs last year.
And it’s not Chandler, which has been represented in a state title game nine times this decade.
The answer is … Tempe, where Corona del Sol, Marcos de Niza, McClintock, Tempe and Tempe Prep are a combined 12-0.
While that record has been helped by some relatively light competition — opponents are a combined 7-20 — all five schools are wearing the look of serious postseason contenders.
Corona, Marcos and Tempe Prep have won each of their games by at least 26 points and all have surpassed the 40-point mark twice.
Corona, Marcos and McClintock have yet to allow more than 14 points in a game, and the latter two are averaging at least five sacks.
Additionally, the Aztecs have a victory over a ranked opponent (then-No. 5 Mesa Red Mountain on Sept. 4) and have been so dominant they’ve risen to No. 1 in 5A Division I after being unranked in the preseason.
As for Tempe, its wins have come against a pair of playoff teams from last year, Phoenix Moon Valley and Buckeye, and both were preseason picks to finish in the top 16 in power rankings once again.
The city’s unscathed record will be no more after tonight when McClintock visits Tempe, but with a start like this, it’s hard not to imagine all these teams finishing strong.
Piling on the points
Last week’s schedule featured a plethora of mismatches with nine East Valley schools scoring at least 50 points and 14 winning by at least 30.
This week’s slate could feature nearly as many lopsided results. Teams most likely to come away with easy victories include Gilbert over Sierra Vista Buena, Gilbert Highland over Tolleson, Mesa Mountain View over Glendale Ironwood, Marcos de Niza over Casa Grande, Scottsdale Saguaro over Avondale Agua Fria, Scottsdale Chaparral over Glendale Copper Canyon, Paradise Valley over Glendale Apollo and Scottsdale Notre Dame over Glendale Independence.
One for the books
With two kickoffs returned for touchdowns in as many weeks, Scottsdale Coronado senior Kaylin Ashley may not see many more kicks directed his way the rest of the season. Whether he does or not, he has already left a lasting mark. His 93-yard return Friday vs. Phoenix Cortez was a school record. The previous long was 90 yards, set multiple times.
The old adage that says you have to run the ball well to win apparently doesn’t apply at Scottsdale Desert Mountain. The Wolves are 2-0 despite averaging only 2.4 yards per carry. The running game, though, is improving. After netting 1.4 yards per carry (22 yards, 31 carries) in its opener, Desert Mountain more than doubled that average (3.1) in the second game, rushing for 105 yards on 34 carries.
Spreading the wealth
Before the season, Queen Creek coach Curt LeBlanc announced he would be mixing things up this year by going with a two-quarterback system. Unafraid to add another fold, LeBlanc used a third player at the position last week. The results were impressive. Richie Edwards, Adam Brzeczeck and Brandon Elcox combined to complete 50 percent of their passes (9 of 18), and each threw at least one touchdown pass in a 58-7 victory over Flagstaff.
“It’s a good thing I already had my heart attack, because this was a tough one.”
Tim McBurney, chandler basha coach, after his team hung on to beat Phoenix Deer Valley, 34-28. The Bears led 27-0 at one point