Chandler wide receiver Johnnie Johnson scores a touchdown against Perry.

The quarterfinals of the state football plays have a very familiar feel to it.

Half of the 10 games involving area teams are rematches from the regular season, while another is return affair from last year’s quarters.

In some of the cases the two teams played within the last month. It becomes a game of chess when it comes to game planning.

This play worked, but the other team is expecting it, and prepared for it. So can they dial it up out of a different formation or use it as a decoy to set up something else.

It should make for interesting Thursday and Saturday evenings.

“I don’t think it really matters,” Mountain Pointe coach Norris Vaughan said of playing Desert Ridge for the second time in a month. “I am more worried about beating a good a second time. It doesn’t matter when we played them Week 1 or last week beating a good team twice is hard.”

No. 8 Desert Ridge (8-3) at No. 1 Mountain Pointe (11-0)

The first meeting ended with the Pride winning 27-13, but that include a final minute prevent defense kind of score by the Jaguars.

It was the first start for Mountain Pointe sophomore quarterback Nick Wallerstedt and the Pride kept the ball on the ground other than a handful of plays. The offense has opened up since then, but it is clear Vaughan will put the onus on the offensive line and the running game.

The Pride defense hasn’t been questioned and continue hold up against every opponent each week. If Mountain Pointe wins a second title in four seasons it will be in large part because of the defense.

The Jaguars have had to adjust the offense a few times this year as well after losing two running backs and have used two quarterbacks in senior CJ Fowler and Matthew Purnell, who sustained a concussion in the game against the Pride.

Desert Ridge’s defense has been pretty consistent, but were beat up by the Pride running game including 212 and four touchdowns from Rashie Hodge.

Clearly the Jaguars have to slow down Hodge and Co. and hope Donjae Logan can match last week’s 200-yard effort in his first go as RB1.

No. 13 Red Mountain (7-4) at No. 5 Brophy (8-3)

Some wondered if Brophy was going to be able to crank it up again after losing three straight before a bye in the final week.

The Broncos were able to roll against Pinnacle in the first round and looked like the team that started 7-0.

Red Mountain won a close game, a rarity in recent years, in the first round by topping Skyline in the first round. It gave the Mountain Lions a confidence boost that just might be enough – along with the play of Lance Lawson – to push a double-digit seed into the semifinals.

No. 6 Hamilton (7-4) at No. 3 Perry (10-1)

The Huskies have to feel good about – but not comfortable – about getting another shot at the Pumas.

Hamilton was embarrassed by the way it played against Perry in a 55-21 loss at home on Oct. 21. What a better way to make up for it than pulling off an upset against the Pumas.

Here is a clue look for the inside screen to Nate James, and then tackle him.

James, the Perry senior wide receiver, had 10 catches for 273 yards and three touchdowns with a good portion of the yards coming after short, quick hitting routes.

It seems like outsiders kept waiting for Perry to let up one of these weeks, but the program looks to be ready to take that next step, and taking care of Hamilton twice in one season will solidify Perry’s drive to the elite.

No. 10 Desert Vista (7-4) at No. 2 Chandler (9-2)

This is fresh game in 2016, but the Wolves topped the Thunder in last year’s quarters.

These two squads might be the hottest teams in 6A.

Neither have lost since dropping a game to Mountain Pointe. The Thunder have won five in a row and Chandler seven straight.

The more impressive streak has to do with the Wolves’ offense made a habit scoring on their first five drives of a game.

It will be to duplicate against the Thunder, who have been a different team since the halftime of the Dobson game. They trailed 20-10 against the Mustangs at home, but a halftime speech turned it around for a 31-27 win.

Desert Vista has gone 5-1 since to make this game much more interesting than anyone one would have thought at midseason.


No. 9 Mesquite (8-3) at No. 1 Cienega (11-0)

The Wildcats have been one of the surprises of the year, and not just because of eight-win season, but how they have gone about it.

Mesquite coach Chad DeGreiner has been passing game guru in all of his stops, but the Wildcats have rushed for 2,184 yards on 403 attempts compared to 183 passes as Joe Eubanks and Preston Smith do most of the heavy lifting.

The Bobcats haven’t been challenged, the closest game was 20-3 against Sahuaro, while Mesquite has faced Williams Field and Queen Creek.

If the Wildcats make it a fourth quarter game, Mesquite just might be more prepared to for a game that comes down to the final moments.

No. 6 Queen Creek (9-2) at No. 3 Ironwood Ridge (9-2)

Back in September the Bulldogs hosted this game and came away with a 37-12 win.

Making the drive to Oro Valley will make it a tougher go around, but the Bulldogs are still steaming from the last second regular season defeat to Williams Field.

And Queen Creek wants that matchup, which would be the case in the semifinals if both teams win this week.

It doesn’t mean the Bulldogs are overlooking Ironwood Ridge, but probably has them even more focused this week in order to make sure the rematch they really want happens.

No. 7 Marana (9-2) at No. 2 Williams Field (11-0)

Marana has won nine straight after losses to Cienega and Ironwood Ridge to the start the year.

During the streak the opponent scored more than 20 just once, and it came in last week’s win over Kellis in the fist round.

Williams Field has a dynamic offense, and kicker who just might play on Sundays someday and defense that plays with an attitude.


No. 5 Marcos de Niza (8-3) at No. 4 Salpointe Catholic (9-2)

The Padres are a pass first offense that gets a few big plays a game to get things rolling behind Naz Greer and seven guys who have at least 18 catches with Marcus Naisant (10 TDs on 43 catches) the No. 1 target.

Salpointe Catholic loves to get after the quarterback (35 sacks, 55 QB hurries) so the Padres O-Line will be challenged, and Greer might be flushed out of the pocket.

No. 7 Cactus (7-4) at No. 2 Higley (10-1)

Another example of two teams meeting up within a month of the regular season clash as the Knights for a repeat outcome.

Higley won 57-34 on October 14 thanks to a quick started – 15-0 after one quarter – and led 57-20 heading into the final quarter.

It has been the M.O. of the Knights all year long. Grab an early lead and sit on it. Kidding. Higley’s offense is relentless and just keeps piling up yards and points. Sometimes at too rapid of a pace that keeps the D on the field too many times.

The Cobras’ Damaria Norris ran for 267 yards and two touchdowns in the loss. A duplicate performance would seemingly be necessary to give Cactus a shot at the upset, but than again it didn’t help much the first go around.



No. 6 Florence (10-1) at No. 3 American Leadership (10-1)

This was very closely played game on September 30 at ALA that saw the Patriots surge ahead in the fourth quarter.

Florence led 22-14 entering the fourth and went for it on fourth down from the ALA 35.

On the ensuing possession, Florence fumbled and ALA recovered on the Gophers’ 27.

After the Patriots took the lead, Florence got down to the ALA 25 before being stopped on fourth down against.

It means the Gophers head into this going feeling like it gave one away, and the Patriots probably feel like it has to play better in order to hold off Florence.

It adds up to being possibly being then most competitive game of the weekend.

Contact writer: (480) 898-7915 or Follow him Twitter @JasonPSkoda

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