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No. 3 Chaparral vs. No. 1 Salpointe Catholic (6 p.m. Friday at University of Arizona stadium): It’s funny sometimes how schedules are scrutinized. Salpointe Catholic hasn’t played nearly as difficult a slate as Chaparral did during the regular season or playoffs, but the Lancers are considered unanimous favorites. There’s good reason. The Lancers have it all: explosive playmakers on offense and defense, led by Cameron Denson, Andrew Cota, and Kaelin Deboskie, and one of the top defenses in the state (regardless of division). Chaparral, however, has all of the same ingredients, and the Firebirds know they’re underdogs which bodes well, if not unusual. The game is basically a home game for Salpointe Catholic, which works in their favor. Similar to Mountain Pointe, this could be Salpointe Catholic’s year, but Chaparral has the defense and offensive balance to make the Lancers sweat. Since nobody has played Salpointe closer than 31 points this season (45-14 win over Peoria Liberty in the quarterfinals), what happens if Chaparral gives them a game? The Firebirds will, and we’ll find out what Salpointe is made of.
Prediction: Salpointe Catholic 34, Chaparral 27
10. Sunnyslope 6-0...
9. Sahuaro 5-1...
8. Mesquite 5-1...
7. Marcos de Niza 4-2...
6. Liberty 4-3...
Phoenix Sunnyslope is one of two undefeated teams in the division and joins the rankings with a win over Cactus Shadows. Mesquite and Sahuaro flip-flop after Mesquite's impressive rout of Westwood. Marcos de Niza falls three spots to No. 7 after a loss to Campo Verde, and Liberty takes advantage to move up one place to No. 6. Paradise Valley lost to Arcadia and drops out.
Players to Watch
No. 1 Chaparral vs. No. 5 Centennial
An early look at what to watch in Division II this season:
Marcos de Niza quarterback Tommy Thornton (left) is a player to watch in Division II in 2011.
5. Mtn. View (Marana) 2-0
4. Chaparral 1-1
3. Centennial 1-1
2. Marcos de Niza 2-0
1. Salpointe Catholic 2-0
Plenty of movement at the top of Division II. Marana Mountain View jumps into the top-5 with an impressive win over Cienega, while Chaparral drops down from No. 1 after losing to Marcos de Niza. Centennial moves up a spot to No. 3 after a nice bounce-back win against Basha, while Marcos de Niza shoots all the way up to No. 2 with the upset of the Firebirds. Tucson Salpointe is the new No. 1 heading into its showdown on Saturday night against Encino (Calif.) Crespi.
10. Paradise Valley 2-0
9. Sahuaro 1-1
8. Apollo 1-1
7. Campo Verde 3-0
6. Ironwood Ridge 1-1
Paradise Valley enters the rankings after a shootout win over North Canyon. Sahuaro drops a spot after a loss to Sabino, while Apollo gets back in with an impressive victory over Ironwood Ridge. Campo Verde continued its strong start by defeating Thunderbird and has moved up to No. 7. Ironwood Ridge is down three spots to No. 6.
Division II football state championship
Quickly. Name the top five state title contenders in 5A Division II and 4A Division II. Are you stumped? Don’t fret. You are not alone.
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Here is the 2013 Division II, Section 7 all-section football team as voted on by the section's coaches:
Final VX Div. II-V football rankings [compiled by Mark Heller/Tribune]
10. Sahuaro — Hung tough against Sabino and Cienega a season ago. The Cougars return many impact defensive players as well as QB Laramie Brown and WR Cole Sterns on offense.
9. Buena — RB Dominique Drake (1,621 yards, 23 TD) is one of the division’s top returning rushers. The Colts made the playoffs in Division I a year ago and should at least equal that as they move down to Div. II.
8. Apollo — QB Jordan Gungl (2,427 yards, 26 TD, 5 INT) is back but has a new group of wideouts. Hawks offense should be good again and if the defense can step up, season could be special. Nico Bayless (963 rush yards, 16 TD; 50 tackles on defense) will be key on both sides of the ball.
7. Marana Mountain View — Surprised many by beating Cienega twice a year ago, including in the playoffs. Many key pieces back, including standout running back Richie Estrada (1,754 yards, 19 TD).
6. Marcos de Niza — QB Josh Eckley is one of biggest threats in the division, but there are several question marks around him on offense after graduation and transfers gutted the skill positions. Defense should be good, though, and the program always has athletes.
5. Cienega — The Bobcats were upset by Marana Mountain View in last year’s playoffs but should rebound. The front seven on defense should be a strength, and team gets QB Adriell Alvarado and RB Christian Nash back on offense.
4. Ironwood Ridge — Defending champions must replace wide swath of impact players, but coaching is top of the line and the players have bought in. RB Jake Vartanian showed flashes of dominance last year and should have a big season.
3. Centennial — Jalen Ortiz, Marcus Farria and others move on, but the Coyotes always reload. Dedrick Young and Matt Rodriguez lead new wave of Centennial standouts as they look to make another deep postseason run.
2. Salpointe — Talented QB Andrew Cota has two big-time playmakers in Cam Denson and Kaelin Deboskie. The defense returns plenty of talent as well. The Lancers could be labeled 1A alongside Chaparral as the team to beat in Div. II.
1. Chaparral — Offense should be loaded with WR Tyler Whiley, WR Izzy Simpson, TE Trevor Wood and RBs Emerson Carrethers and Elijah Castro while the defense won’t be far behind. The Firebirds look balanced, talented and ready to aim for another title after last year’s quarterfinal exit.
Division II baseball state championship game
Outlooks for the Divisions I and II softball state tournaments:
Outlooks for the Divisions I and II baseball state tournaments
2012 Division II volleyball state tournament