Outlook: This game is the most competitive of the first-round matchups in the 3A playoffs.
Safford comes into the postseason on a bit of a slump, losing three of its last four games, while Fountain Hills has won three straight and is averaging 34 points a game.
Safford features a groundoriented attack with an option offense led by quarterback Justin Gaethje, who has three capable backs to hand the ball off to. Manny Jurado (572 yards, 10 touchdowns), Justin Smith (542, 7 TDs) and Darryl Thomas (371, 2 TDs) all average more than 6.8 yards per carry. The Bulldogs’ passing game has been of the big-play variety. Gaethje has completed just 36 percent of his throws this year, but those completions have averaged 22 yards.
“We’ve gone against a couple of teams that run the option and they didn’t hurt us,” Fairfield said. “It depends on what kind of pressure we can put on them.”
The Falcons’ offense also likes to stay grounded. They are led by fullback Cameron Estes, who has 646 yards on 142 carries. Tailback Kail Brinton is not far behind with 616 yards. Brinton is also quarterback Jason Fairfield’s favorite target, with a team-high 20 catches for 246 yards.
Jason Fairfield has 1,147 yards passing and 12 touchdowns.
Safford at Fountain Hills
Address: 16100 E. Palisades Blvd., Fountain Hills
Records: Safford 7-3, Fountain Hills 7-3