Two weeks into 5A Central Region warfare and what appeared to be a jumbled up mess of a region is showing separation. The culprits? Gilbert Mesquite (4-2) and Mesa Mountain View (3-2). And don’t forget Chandler Basha (4-1).
Two weeks into 5A Central Region warfare and what appeared to be a jumbled mess of a region is showing separation.
The culprits? Gilbert Mesquite (4-2) and Mesa Mountain View (3-2). And don’t forget Chandler Basha (4-1).
That trio is 5-0 (Mesquite and Mountain View 2-0 in region, Basha 1-0). Their five combined losses are to Scottsdale Chaparral (2), Tucson Sunnyside, Phoenix Mountain Pointe and Scottsdale Desert Mountain, who sport a combined 20-1 record.
Unlike last year, Mesquite isn’t forced to rally from a slow start. The team is on the rebound from 2008, when injuries and overwhelming opposition teamed up and took a toll that reduced the Wildcats to a 2-8 season. The difference for Mike Reardon’s rejuvenated squad is simple — good health, maturation of the returnees, and the region’s best defense (with apologies to Basha’s, which isn’t far behind).
The Wildcats have pitched two shutouts and in the last two weeks.
Mountain View is showing resiliency from its first two-game losing streak in 17 years. The Toros have picked up back-to-back wins (Mesa Dobson and Corona) since. They’ve scored 85 points the last two weeks, after netting just 28 in losses to Scottsdale Chaparral and Tucson Sunnyside.
On the flip side of Mesquite, Mountain View has the best offense in the region, particularly in terms of balance.
Basha, which has just one region game as a sample, methodically handled Gilbert High (a 31-7 win).
The Bears’ lone loss was to unbeaten Phoenix Mountain Pointe on a night when the Bears scored three points on five possessions in the red zone and were beaten by long fourth-quarter TD runs from Mountain Pointe’s talented backfield tandem of De’Andre Currie and Davon Jones.
Obviously, none of the three teams have played each other this year. Those meetings are coming. Mountain View visits Mesquite this Friday. The other matchups come the final two weeks of the regular season (Mesquite hosts Basha Oct. 30 and Basha visits Mountain View Nov. 6).
Their contrasting styles and abilities will be interesting to watch when they do meet. Basha is a passing team. Mesquite a running team. Mountain View, as noted earlier, is more balanced. Eagerly await those matchups, even though they lack the heavyweight-caliber of the Fiesta Region.
Phoenix St. Mary’s tight end/defensive end Josh Fulton, one of the Knights’ top players, left in the second half of Friday’s game with Desert Vista with a shoulder injury.
Mesquite quarterback Steven Hansen, who aggravated an ankle sprain late against Corona del Sol on Sept. 25, was back in the pilot’s seat against Highland and looked agile. Hansen made a couple big runs in the first half and completed 5-of-8 passes for 50 yards that got the chains moving consistently for the Wildcats in their 30-0 win over Highland. Hansen accounted for 99 yards of offense, about one-third of the Wildcats’ output.
Red Mountain could have used a bye week last week to try and have Derek Molina and Dominic Smith ready for Brophy, but they will get that respite next week. Red Mountain hopes to have them return Oct. 16 against Chandler.
Already noted is Mountain View at Mesquite on Friday for sole possession of first place in the 5A Central. Only one 5A Fiesta Region game is on tap, but it’s huge for Mesa High and Phoenix Desert Vista, who are still looking for their first wins in the region.
Gilbert Williams Field faces its sternest test in school history, playing host to defending 4A-II champ Scottsdale Notre Dame for first place in the 4A East Sky. The 4A Desert Sky, a five-team region, finally begins region play with Cave Creek Cactus Shadows visiting Apache Junction and Tempe McClintock traveling to Queen Creek.
Saguaro will lick its wounds as the odd team out this week and tangle with Phoenix Moon Valley.
Top game in the 2A ranks pits No. 1-ranked Chandler Valley Christian at home against No. 3 Phoenix Northwest Christian.
It’s a large week for byes with Phoenix Brophy, Mesa Red Mountain, Chandler High, Phoenix Mountain Pointe and Mesa Dobson getting time off from games.
Gilbert High’s resolve: In order to notch its first win of the year, one of the more prolific combinations last year — Brandon Bialkowski to Jesse Brantley — continued to click in 2009. They saved their best for last as Bialkowski tossed a 33-yard game-winning strike to Brantley, giving the Tigers a 35-32 win at homecoming. Every local 5A school now has at least one win this season.
Yuma schools: They supplied three East Valley schools with easy road wins last week. The 200-mile trip is worth it in these days of tougher schedules if you can rack up a cool and easy 50 power points. In fact, the combination of Kofa, Cibola, Gila Ridge, San Luis and Yuma has yielded 11 wins for local schools in 11 tries.
Hamilton’s rally: While clock management wasn't Chandler’s strong suit, the Huskies made several clutch plays and displayed poise during their comeback. The Travis Dean-to-Kyren Poe TD pass was similar to Joe Montana’s game-winning throw to Dwight Clark that beat Dallas in the 1981 NFC championship game. Dean’s pass was no lob — it was a bullet.
Chandler’s clock management: With 1:31 remaining, a three-point lead and fresh downs, all the Wolves had to do was run three running plays up the gut to burn Chandler Hamilton’s two final timeouts and get the clock down to around 40 seconds. But the call on first down was a run to the short side of the field, and quarterback Brett Hundley ran out of bounds, stopping the clock. The next play was an incomplete pass, which also stopped the clock. Hamilton got the ball back with 1:07 remaining, still with a timeout, and eventually scored the winning touchdown with three seconds to play.
Highland’s back-pedal: The Hawks reverted back to Week 1 (a 56-14 loss) in its 30-0 loss to Mesquite. The Hawks’ special teams were horrendous, which didn’t help the offense or defense by turning the ball over or setting up Mesquite with good field position. After two comeback wins supplied confidence and momentum, the young Hawks took a major step back on Friday.
McClintock’s second half: On the verge of knocking off Peoria on the Panthers’ home field, the Chargers were limited to 47 yards on offense in the second half and coughed up a 17-9 lead and eventually lost to the Panthers, 27-17. McClintock has four tough Desert Sky Region games coming up, so second-half hiccups can’t become a staple.
Mesa High, by polishing off Scottsdale Horizon, has put itself two wins away from what may be the magic number of six wins to qualify for the 5A-I playoffs. Mesa still must face Hamilton and Brophy.
Lately, the only teams that can beat those two are each other or Centennial. However, a Mesa win over Maryvale later should be no problem. That leaves this week’s tussle with Desert Vista as critical to the Jackrabbits’ ticket to the postseason, barring upsets of Hamilton or Brophy.
Mountain Pointe embarks on a timely and well-deserved bye this week after notching win No. 6. The Pride get an extra week to prepare for Mesa Desert Ridge, which is involved in a budding rivalry game this week against Mesa Skyline in the battle of Crismon Road.
The Pride will take on four opponents with playoff aspirations down the stretch, which should be enough to keep them sharp.
Chaparral, Pinnacle, Horizon and Desert Mountain are a combined 18-2 as the 5A Desert Valley Region begins region play this week. Of the four, Chaparral is clearly the team with the most weapons on offense, a solid defense and the most likely to go 10-0 in its move from 4A-I to 5A-II.
Desert Mountain’s defense has three shutouts to its credit, but St. Mary’s may be better offensively than any of the three teams Desert Mountain has blanked. Pinnacle should hold its own in region play and likely will win two or three of those games. Horizon will be hard-pressed, but capable of winning two of its final five games.
Max Leonesio, Brophy, 261 yards, 5 TDs
Brandon Warren, Williams Field, 198 yards, 2 TDs
De’Andre Currie, Mountain Pointe, 161 yards, 1 TD
Cole Tyree, Chaparral, 156 yards, 1 TD
Anders Battle, Desert Vista, 153 yards, 1 TD
Davon Jones, Mountain Pointe, 141 yards, 3 TDs
Brandon Bialkowski, Gilbert, 301 yards, 4 TDs
John O’Connor, Red Mountain, 214 yards, TD
Brad Heap, Mtn. View, 212 yards, 2 TDs
Mike Benjamin, Basha, 205 yards, 1 TD
Chase Cartwright, Corona del Sol, 197 yards, 2 TDs
Adam Brzeczek, Queen Creek, 186 yards, 1 TD
Sean Coffinger, Desert Vista, 150 yards, 1 TD
Jesse Brantley, Gilbert, 197 yards, 3 TDs
Jacob Tune, Red Mountain, 109 yards, TD
Dejzon Walker, Basha, 68 yards, 1 TD
Nathaniel Causey, Gilbert, 57 yards, 2 TDs
Alex Garoutte, Brophy kicker, 3 field goals (tied school record with a 53-yarder), eight touchbacks on kickoffs
C.J. Randall, Mesquite defensive lineman, 13-yard punt return for a TD
Kyler Fackrell, Mesa quarterback-receiver, 168 all-purpose yards, including 97-yard school record-tying TD run
Jason Phillips, Desert Mountain kicker, 2 field goals, 7-7 extra points
Jake Bamrick, Mesquite, 11 tackles, interception
Rob Dalton, Mesquite, 7 tackles (one for safety), 1 sack