Three games that intrigue me…..
Desert Ridge (6-2) at Desert Vista (4-4)
This Thursday night special is vital for both teams at this juncture in the season.
Desert Ridge worked its way up to No. 2 in 6A in the Tribune rankings, but were dominated by Mountain Pointe. The score 27-13 wasn’t a true indicator as to how much the Pride controlled things.
The Jaguars showed life, and moved the ball in the second half, once coach Jeremy Hatchock adjusted the offensive line scheme.
Freshman quarterback Matt Purnell has been cleared from concussion protocol and Hathcock said he will play, but wouldn’t commit to who will start after senior C.J. Fowler came in and led the Jaguars to a last-second TD drive against the Pride’s prevent defense.
The Jaguars defense has been solid, but haven’t not caused many turnovers (7) to get off the field. That unit needs to start making impactful plays if Desert Ridge is going to far into the postseason.
Desert Vista rebounded from a 1-3 start to reach .500 with the offense getting in a good groove.
The Thunder senior class is playing their last home game, and do not want to take their annual Senior Walk after a loss so emotions will be high.
A win over the Jaguars would guarantee a playoff spot and show as many suspect they are better than their record suggests as Desert Vista’s four defeats have come against teams that have lost a total of four games.
If the Thunder defense can hold up against the Desert Ridge running game and not blow up in key moments, Desert Vista will have a chance to knock off the Jaguars.
Desert Vista 24, Desert Ridge 21
Williams Field (8-0) at Mesquite (6-2)
The Black Hawks have not been challenged this year, but this might be the week.
At this point that means anything less than a three-score game as Williams Field’s two closest games of the year are 21-0 and 40-21.
It’s no wonder considering the size and physicality of the offensive line, the development of sophomore quarterback Zach Shepherd and possibly the best wide receiver combo (Max Fine and Justis Stokes) in the state.
Oh, and the defense has allowed 78 points in eights with a good portion of that coming against the second time in garbage time.
So the Wildcats, who have had a huge resurgence under Chad DeGrenier, will have to be at their best as they prepare to take on the third 5A Conference top five team of the season after losing to Desert Edge and Queen Creek already.
They played both squads tough, but didn’t have enough despite the level of the play of the running back behind Joe Eubanks and Preston Smith, and a stout defense.
That will be the case again here.
Williams Field 28, Mesquite 14
Perry (7-1) at Hamilton (6-2)
The Pumas showed some backbone last week in coming back against Brophy after losing their first game of the year the previous week.
It is clear at this point that Perry has one of the most dynamic offenses in the state, but there are not many shootouts once the playoffs begin.
The defense is going to have to do its part at some point. The unit has played well at times – the second half against Desert Vista and the fourth quarter against Brophy – against quality teams but there has to be more consistency.
Hamilton has had a few ugly losses – Desert Ridge and Brophy – and needed a defensive stop in the final moments to hold off Skyline’s shot at forcing a tie and overtime.
The Huskies are held to a higher standard than other programs and while that might be unfair there is no questioning Hamilton’s having an offer year.
Until they’re not.
Hamilton still has everything in place to be a state title contender. That has changed, and probably never will. Can the Huskies pull it together fully in 2016?
A win this week heading followed up with a home win over Chandler to close out the regular season would completely change how the Huskies are viewed.
They get the first half of it done by topping Perry.
Hamilton 35, Perry 31
The remaining games:
Brophy at Chandler
Mesa at Dobson
Gilbert at Highland
Corona del Sol at Mountain Pointe
Westwood at Mountain View
Red Mountain at Skyline
Marcos de Niza at Higley
Cholla at Poston Butte
Vista Grande at Queen Creek
Campo Verde at Sierra Linda
McClintock at Sunnyslope
Seton Catholic at Casa Grande
Washington at Combs
Apache Junction at Coronado
North Pointe at Casteel
American Leadership at Coolidge
Benjamin Franklin at Florence
Valley Christian at Yuma Catholic
Gilbert Christian at Camp Verde
Tempe Prep at Joy Christian
San Tan Foothills at Scottsdale Prep
Last week’s record: 18-2. Overall record: 179-40 (81.7 percent)
– Contact Jason Skoda at 480-898-7915 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @JasonPSkoda.
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