APOLLO (0-1) at SUNRISE MOUNTAIN (1-1)
KICKOFF: 7 p.m. tonight at 21200 N. 83rd Ave., Peoria.
Sunrise Mountain (1-1) erased any bitter aftertaste from the opening one-point loss to Liberty by going to Tempe and staging a comeback from a 20-7 third-quarter deficit to down McClintock (0-1) 35-31.
“We still made a lot of mistakes that are correctable, but the kids are hustling and they’re believing in themselves,” coach Jim Carter said.
The Mustangs’ second straight comeback began with a 79-yard touchdown drive and a 32-yard interception return by sophomore cornerback John Drago. McClintock regained the lead, lost it and regained it again.
That set up Sunrise Mountain’s winning 81-yard drive, capped by senior tailback Andrew Yanes’ seven-yard touchdown run. Yanes rushed for 175 yards and three touchdowns on 21 carries.
The Mustangs were powered by their offensive line, rumbling for 278 rushing yards. It could have been 400, Carter said.
“We had about 100 more yards that were called back,” Carter said.
Defensively, senior linebacker Tony Troftgruben led the charge, racking up 25 tackles — 15 of them unassisted.
The Mustangs face another stiff test tonight when they play host to Apollo (0-1). The Hawks entered the season ranked No. 4 in 4A-I by westvalleypreps.com, but were upset 20-10 by Phoenix Washington in their opener.
Apollo remains a dangerous foe with a potent passing game. Junior quarterback Jon Brown hooked up with senior wide receivers Chrisdeon Ayiyi and David Gonzales for 69 receptions, 1,386 yards and 15 touchdowns in 2009.
“They had a great season (10-2) last year,” Carter said. “They’re a good team and we will have our hands full with them.”
HIGHLEY (0-1) at LIBERTY (2-0)
KICKOFF: 7 p.m. tonight at 9621 W Speckled Gecko Drive, Peoria.
Liberty (2-0) looked like the offensive juggernaut of last year in a 55-6 pasting of Independence (0-2). Coach Dan Filleman said he was pleased with how the team looked in all three phases.
“We blocked two of their punts and ran them back, so special teams was going full throttle along with the offense,” Filleman said. “Defensively we held them to negative 16 yards, I believe, in the first half.”
Tonight, the Lions welcome what appears to be an improved Higley (0-1) squad. Although the Knights went 1-9 last season, they have a reputation of playing solid, physical football.
Last week, Higley battled 4A-I rival Queen Creek before falling 21-16. Senior tailback/safety Kelvin Fisher leads the Knights and is being recruited by Several Pac-10 and ACC teams.
“He’s a good player,” Filleman said. “They’re a scrappy bunch of kids, they’re well-coached and they play disciplined football.”
CENTENNIAL (1-0) at WILLOW CANYON (1-1)
KICKOFF: 7 p.m. tonight at 17901 W. Lundberg St., Surprise.
Centennial is preparing to shift gears on defense tonight when it travels to Willow Canyon.
After opening the season against Chandler star quarterback (and UCLA signee) Brett Hundley, who threw for 359 yards and rushed for 107 in Centennial’s 48-42 victory, the Coyotes will game plan for a star I back and a Willow Canyon team that runs more than 80 percent of the time.
Senior tailback Garrick Shelton rolled up 220 yards on only 13 carries in the Wildcats’ 65-0 romp over Phoenix South Mountain. On Aug. 26 against Avondale Westview — a team more comparable to Centennial — Shelton rushed for 126 yards on 25 carries.
Willow Canyon rushed for 403 yards on 36 carries in the rout of the Jaguars.
“Our kids are pretty smart,” said Centennial coach Richard Taylor. “Whatever game plan we put together, they will be able to adapt to it and play well.”
Centennial, meanwhile, unveiled a spread-heavy offense in its opener. Senior tailback Vegas Johnson was the steadying force, gaining 100 yards on 17 carries. Sophomore Jalen Ortiz stepped in as the home-run threat, gaining a total of 119 yards on two long touchdown runs. Senior Gary Ross made his limited snaps on offense count, scoring two touchdowns on reverses and another on a reception.
MOUNTAIN RIDGE (1-0) at GILBERT (0-2)
KICKOFF: 7 p.m. tonight at 1101 E Elliot Road, Gilbert
Mountain Ridge looks to continue its opening-week momentum tonight at Gilbert. The Mountain Lions surprised local prep prognosticators by stifling Mesa Mountain View 17-11 in last week’s defensive struggle.
And while Mountain Ridge offensive line coach Kip Thomas noted the play of senior quarterback Hunter Young (154 yards passing) and senior tailback P.J. Sparks (124 rushing yards, and the decisive 54-yard touchdown run), he said the defense deserves much of the credit.
“Any time you beat a team with physicality it’s a tribute to the kids. The defense came out focused and ready to play,” Thomas said. “They held a team that likes to run to a fairly low number of rushing yards.”
Now the key is not basking in the glow of beating Mountain View, or taking Gilbert lightly. The Tigers gave Phoenix Brophy Prep — the No. 3 team in 5A-I, fits before losing 18-6 on Sept. 3.
“You can’t look at the record. They played Chaparral and Gilbert,” Thomas said. “Our kids can be happy with the win against Mountain View, but they can’t be satisfied with it.”
PHOENIX SOUTH MOUNTAIN (0-1) at DEER VALLEY (1-1)
KICKOFF: 7 p.m. tonight at 18424 N. 51st Ave., Glendale.
Deer Valley is also coming off an impressive victory. The Skyhawks spoiled Ironwood’s home opener 40-7, gaining the first win of the Joe Kersting era.
Junior tailback Trae Armstrong scored on a pair of first quarter runs (3 yards and 58 yards) both off the left tackle. He would finish the half with nine carries for 121 yards and two scores. He also caught two passes for 22 yards and a touchdown to open the second half – a screen pass to the right – to make it a 26-7 game.
“(Armstrong) has tremendous speed and once he gets into the secondary he has a chance to change the score,” Kersting said. “Our left tackle (Stephen Arnold) was handling their defensive end, but I wasn’t aware of that until halftime when the guys in the booth said so. After that we just kept pounding it to that side.”
Armstrong and Arnold were injured in the second half and did not return. Kersting said Armstrong had a leg injury, but didn’t know much more than that, and his starting left tackle left with a shoulder stinger.
Their status for tonight’s home opener against South Mountain is unknown. Either way, Deer Valley will be favored, given South Mountain’s performance against Willow Canyon.
CHANDLER HAMILTON (3-0) at IRONWOOD (0-1)
KICKOFF: 7 p.m. tonight at 6051 W. Sweetwater Ave., Glendale.
For Ironwood, things may get worse before they get better. The Eagles play host to two-time defending 5A-I state champion Chandler Hamilton tonight.
New coach Ian Curtis saw some positives against Deer Valley, as the Eagles rushed for 164 yards. But Ironwood could not score on a pair of long drives, and missed several tackles.
“Quite frankly, we looked like a team that was still learning the scheme (against Deer Valley) and was playing in its first game of the season,” Curtis said. “But there were positives on the field for us and we need to focus on those and work to correct our mistakes.”
VALLEY VISTA (1-0) at TEMPE MARCOS de NIZA (2-0)
KICKOFF: 7 p.m. tonight at 6000 S Lakeshore Drive, Tempe.
Valley Vista makes a huge jump in quality of opponents tonight, a week after shutting down Phoenix Alhambra 33-6.
For the Monsoon, senior Ronald Carter rushed for 56 yards and two touchdowns in the season opener, while junior Brandon Bendele led all rushers with 90 yards on nine carries. Senior quarterback Diante Richardson completed 5 of 10 passes for 104 yards in the win.
Marcos de Niza, the #3 team in westvalleypreps' 5A-II rankings, thrashed Marana Mountain View 29-7 and Avondale La Joya 57-7 to open its schedule. The Padres played in the state title game last year, and could be headed back.
Senior tailback Anthony Shivers averages 10.6 yards per carry and has four touchdowns. Junior quarterback Tommy Thornton has stepped in nicely, completing 14 or 19 passes for 362 yards and four touchdowns. Junior linebackers Adam Pavlenko and David Villalobos.
DYSART (1-1) at VERRADO (1-1)
KICKOFF: 7 p.m. tonight at 20050 W Indian School Road, Buckeye
Dysart will try to get past its 63-0 loss to 4A-II #3 Gilbert Williams Field against another third-year varsity program.
Verrado, 2-8, last season, defeated Rio Rico 47-6 last week. Junior linebacker Seth Mimm (17 tackles and two sacks) leads the Vipers defense.