Undefeated Cactus team takes on Copper Canyon - East Valley Tribune: VarsityXtra

Undefeated Cactus team takes on Copper Canyon

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Posted: Thursday, October 11, 2007 4:09 pm | Updated: 7:39 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

The Cactus Cobras continue to roll along. At 6-0, the Cobras, the top team in the 4A Div-I power ratings, head into tonight's game at Copper Canyon (3-3) looking to remain perfect. Cactus isn't the only local high school team putting together an impressive season. Both Centennial (5-1), the top team in the 5A Div-II ratings, and Peoria (5-1), No. 8 in the 4A Div-I ranks have a single loss. In the 5A Div-I ranks, Mountain Ridge improved to 4-2 on the season with an win over Yuma. The Mountain Lions find themselves in a tie for the No. 9 spot in the power ratings heading into tonight's game. In other action, Ironwood (2-4) and Sunrise Mountain (2-4), both fighting for their playoff lives, will battle in Glendale as the Mustangs travel to Ironwood, which has picked itself off the canvas following an 0-4 start. Kickoff is set for 7 tonight around the state. Here is a look at what fans can expect to see. MATCHUP: Cactus (6-0, 2-0) at Copper Canyon (3-3, 0-2) ADDRESS: 9126 W. Camelback Road, Glendale Last week: After getting off to a 3-1 start, Copper Canyon has been greeted rudely in 4A West Valley Region play. A week removed from a 28-3 loss to Millennium, things got worse for the Aztecs last week in a 48-16 defeat at Peoria. Agua Fria scored the opening touchdown of the game on a 40-yard fumble return, but the Cactus defense posted a shutout as the Cobras rallied for a 20-6 win. Breakdown: Copper Canyon, which will graduate its first class of seniors this year, is too young as a program to be expected to contend with a perennial power like Cactus. Two weeks ago, Cactus led Peoria 21-0 on its way to a 28-22 win over the Panthers. Last week, Copper Canyon trailed the Panthers 48-3 before getting two late scores. PICK: Cactus MATCHUP: Tolleson (2-4, 0-1) at Centennial (5-1, 1-0) ADDRESS: 14388 N. 79th Ave., Peoria Last week: Tolleson led 14-7 after the first quarter, but never scored again, falling 17-14 to Ironwood. Centennial trailed 12-6 to La Joya, but would scored the game's final 54 points including a 27-point second quarter in a 60-12 win. Players to watch: Centennial quarterback Scott Burgett (12) spread the wealth, hitting three different Coyotes for touchdowns in the win. Jeff Hughes (7) pushed his team best touchdown total to nine on the season. Senior linebacker Jordan Rooks (33), who entered the region opener with a team-leading 39 tackles, returned two fumble recoveries for touchdowns, but saw the first one wiped out after a penalty. Breakdown: Tolleson struggles to score points. Through six games, the Wolverines have managed to score more than 20 points once. Of their 106 points on the season, 51 came against a Valley Vista team that's making its varsity debut in 2007. Centennial, on the other hand, backs a stout defense with an offense that is putting up more than 42 points a game. In the Coyotes four contests against 5A Div-II opponents, the average is more than 51 agame. This one won't be close. Note: It was incorrectly reported that the Coyotes halftime ceremonies at last week's game would include the honoring of Coyotes alumnus George Cortez Jr., a Phoenix police officer who was killed in the line of duty earlier this year. Those ceremonies will take place at tonight's game. PICK: Centennial MATCHUP: Mountain Pointe (4-2, 0-0) at Mountain Ridge (4-2, 0-0) ADDRESS: 22800 N. 67th Ave., Glendale Last week: Both teams were on the top of the mountain in their battles with schools from Yuma. While the Mountain Pointe Pride dropped Cibola 42-8, the Mountain Ridge Mountain Lions had no problem handling the Yuma Criminals, posting a 48-0 shutout. Players to watch: Mountain Pointe senior running back Marquese Wheaton (5) has carried the Pride's offense, averaging 8.17 yards a carry, in wracking up 539 yards and eight touchdowns through Mountain Pointe's first five games. Mountain Ridge senior wide receiver Ryan King (4) caught six passes for 61 yards and two touchdowns and also converted a two-point conversion run. Breakdown: Both teams come into this one with identical records. Mountain Pointe has averaged 30 points a game while Mountain Ridge is scoring 29 a contest. Both have big play running backs with Wheaton playing that role for Mountain Pointe and Giorgio Giurdanella (23), who has scored 10 touchdowns despite sitting out a game. Giurdanella is averaging 252.8 all-purpose yards a game giving Mountain Ridge a threat on the ground, as a receiver and as a kick returner. Mountain Ridge has the advantage at quarterback where Kevin Yost (15) gives the Mountain Lions a solid passing game. Ridge also has a stronger defense. Through six games the Mountain Lions are allowing 15 points a game. Of the 91 points they've allowed this year, nearly half, came in the Mountain Lions 43-17 loss to Pinnacle. The two teams share Sunnyside as a common opponent. Mountain Ridge fell to the Blue Devils 21-20 in their season opener. A week later the Blue Devils beat Mountain Pointe 35-14. PICK: Mountain Ridge MATCHUP: Peoria (5-1, 1-1) at Millennium (5-1, 2-0) ADDRESS: 14802 W. Wigwam Blvd., Goodyear Last week: A week after Lake Havasu running back Brent Michaels set a state record with 470 yards and six touchdowns in a 54-41 win, Millennium held the Knights' back in check, limiting him to 106 yards on 21 carries as the Tigers earned a 9-6 win over Lake Havasu. Peoria bounced back from their first loss of the season, jumping to a 48-3 lead on their way to a 48-16 win over Copper Canyon. Players to watch: Millennium senior linebacker Johnny Carasco (40) had 16 tackles in the win over Lake Havasu increasing his team-leading total to 63 on the season. After a sub-par game against Cactus, Peoria junior Jamaal Miles (32) bounced back with 121 yards on nine carries, scoring three touchdowns as the Panthers coasted to victory. Breakdown: Peoria's hopes of claiming a share of the 4A West Valley Region title requires the Panthers to beat the Tigers and have Millennium defeat Cactus in their Oct. 26 showdown. This matchup will pit strength against strength. The Panthers offense is putting up 45 points a game while Millennium's defense has allowed 10 a contest. Peoria's worst output offensively came in their 28-22 loss to Cactus. Even if they only come up with that effort against Millennium, the Tigers might not be able to score enough to win as the school from Goodyear, which is averaging 16 points agame this season, has only topped 20 points twice all season. PICK: Peoria MATCHUP: Sunrise Mountain (2-4, 0-1) at Ironwood (2-4, 1-0) ADDRESS: 6051 W. Sweetwater Ave., Glendale Last week: Sunrise Mountain trailed 47-0 at the half as Westview trashed the Mustangs 54-8. Ironwood overcame a 14-10 halftime deficit as senior Randy Klucznik connected on a 47-yard touchdown pass to senior Travaris Forrest in the fourth quarter to give the Eagles their second straight win, a 17-14 victory over Tolleson. Players to watch: Forrest (9) caught six passes for 111 yards last week. Sunrise Mountain's defense has been torn to shreds the last three weeks giving up 158 points, nearly 53 a contest in three lopsided losses. Breakdown: Two teams going in opposite directions take the field tonight in Glendale. After struggling badly against a brutally difficult schedule, the Eagles have found their way in two recent wins. The key has been a defense that has found some teeth, posting shutouts in 10 of their last 12 quarters of football. The visiting Mustangs by contrast have been routed in three straight games after getting off to a 2-1 start. Both teams are still in contention for a playoff berth, but a win tonight is imperative for both team's chances. PICK: Ironwood Last week's picks: 7-0 Season total 32-2 Report compiled by sports editor Marc Buckhout who can be reached at 876-2598 or at mbuckhout@aztrib.com.

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[Stats Courtesy of MaxPreps]