No. 10 Basha at No. 2 Chandler
No. 10 Basha at No. 2 Chandler: Two weeks ago, Chandler won 49-7 and everyone beyond Arizona Ave. shook their heads. Is Chandler that good? Is Basha that bad? The Wolves might be that good, they have been most of the season. But Basha is much better than that, and the second time around will show that. The obviously keys for Basha to pull off this upset are defense and Rajhan Meriwether. Neither of which got going in the first meeting, but Meriwether has been a workhorse since the Week 9 meeting (54 carries, 334 yards in past two games). Doing it against Chandler will be tougher than Gilbert or Horizon, but the Bears are really dangerous when they can run with even one degree of effectiveness to open up the potent passing game. Chandler’s offense may prove too difficult to stop for four quarters, and the Bears have been prone to turnovers and, at times, penalties at the wrong time, but it’ll be more like a real Chandler-rivalry matchup than the fluke of Week 9.
Prediction: Chandler 41, Basha 31
No. 6 Pinnacle at No. 3 Hamilton
No. 6 Pinnacle at No. 3 Hamilton: This is shaping up to be this week’s honest-to-goodness toss up. Of course, that was Red Mountain vs. Highland in the first round and it turned out to be anything but a pick ‘em. Still, there’s no doubt Pinnacle can play with the Huskies, they did so in early September (and it can be argued Pinnacle should have won at Hamilton on Sept. 12). Hamilton believes it’s recent return to health and growth on offense is tangible. Pinnacle believes QB Brian Lewerke is playing significantly better than he was two months ago (Huskies coach Steve Belles raved about him back then and again this week). If Hamilton can control the ball and clock with its running game - and score touchdowns - the Huskies can keep Pinnacle’s offense off the field, which is the best bet because Cules Rose and Daniel Galindo (pictured) are big-play threats at WR as the Pioneers can score quickly. The Pioneers are capable of negating Hamilton’s offense. Expect a few tweaks, but no massive transformations from the first time around. In other words, expect something similar to the first game’s drama.
Prediction: Hamilton 24, Pinnacle 21
No. 12 Brophy at No. 4 Desert Ridge
No. 12 Brophy at No. 4 Desert Ridge: The last meeting in September went 38-14 in favor of Desert Ridge, but it was close for 2 1/2 quarters before the Jaguars’ running game finally bent Brophy’s defense. Remember, too, that a half-dozen supposed-to-be-starters were out with injuries for Brophy. A couple of those kids are back, namely Brian Woodward at QB (he played safety but couldn’t thrown because of a broken bone in his hand). Woodward is a terrific safety who can throw, so with Ryan Velez running the ball well the past couple weeks, Brophy’s offense should be better this time around. Still, the Jaguars’ have shut down dangerous offenses most of the season, and while it’d be downright foolish to bet against a Brophy defense coached by Gary Galante who gets a second crack at solving the Desert Ridge running game, it hasn’t been done yet despite everyone knowing what’s coming.
Prediction: Desert Ridge 31, Brophy 20
No. 9 Red Mountain at No. 1 Mountain Pointe
No. 9 Red Mountain at No. 1 Mountain Pointe: Red Mountain is suddenly rolling. OK, the Lions have played well for most of the last month, both offensively and defensively (especially the former compared to how the season began), and dissected an upstart Highalnd team last week on the road in a blowout win. The party, however, might be over. Mountain Pointe’s speed-physicality combination defensively is going to make life pretty tough for the Lions’ dual quarterbacks. On the flip side, can the Lions stop Mountain Pointe’s running game of Paul Lucas and Brandyn Leonard, and stop the Antonio Hinojosa to Jalen Brown and/or Timmy Hernandez combinations? That’s asking a lot, and while Red Mountain’s schedule has prepared the Lions for games like these, it’s hard overcoming the Pride’s speed and offensive balance. Nobody has so far.
Prediction: Mountain Pointe 34, Red Mountain 17