Here are the top storylines heading into the fifth week of the season:
If there’s such thing as a quiet undefeated team, it’s Pinnacle. The Pioneers (4-0) have sparkled offensively during this fast start by averaging 44 points per game, including 41 points against a previously-solid Phoenix North Canyon defense in a win last week. Pinnacle coach Dana Zupke believes the jury is still out on the team with the likes of Anthem Boulder Creek and Brophy coming later, but 5-0 is within reach. To do so, they’ll have to beat a Horizon team led by QB Kyle Woods’ dual-threat offense, but is coming off a defensively disappointing outing to Glendale Deer Valley.
Higley gets the new guys
After a lightning-resumed, near-comeback vs. Poston Butte two weeks ago, Higley rebounded against Apache Junction last week. This week, the Knights get a more ominous matchup against Vista Grande, a new school in Casa Grande. Carlos Hernandez had lots of success at Coolidge before coming back to his native Casa Grande to build this new program, and it paid off last year by winning the independent schools’ championship. They’ve already beaten Casa Grande and Maricopa before losing 21-7 to highly-ranked Florence last week. If Higley can keep Vista Grande under 20 points, it has a good chance of being 4-1 heading into next week’s Williams Field slugfest.
Paradise Valley had the comeback of the year last Friday when it rallied from 26 points down to beat Thunderbird, 40-39, in overtime. The Trojans have to be emotionally ready, because they have three games in eight days beginning on Friday. Paradise Valley (2-1) first plays against Phoenix Moon Valley (1-3), then will resume its game against Liberty on Monday. The teams were tied 14-14 midway through the second quarter on Sept. 9 when lightning postponed the contest.
To almost nobody’s surprise, it’s been a rough start for Todd Williamson at St. Mary’s. The Knights are 1-3 with a couple blowout losses to Basha and Anthem Boulder Creek, and a win against Phoenix North. It’ll be an interesting matchup against his previous stomping grounds when the Knights welcome Phoenix Central to Phoenix College. It’s the school from whence Williamson came and helped rebuild before coming to St. Mary’s when Eddy Zubey left. Such circumstances often bring out the emotions in coaches and a little more juice from players.
Small school standoff
Scottsdale Prep is 4-0 on the year behind the arm of quarterback Aidan Wright. He is 58-of-89 passing for 1,214 yards with 23 touchdowns and only one interception on the season and the Spartans have won each of their games by at least 40 points. Gilbert Christian (2-2) narrowly lost to Valley Lutheran last week. Both these teams are in their first foray into a full varsity season and are looking to make a push for the postseason.