It was a terrific week of high school football in Arizona, highlighted by the always anticipated Division I game between Chandler vs. Hamilton. There were a number of other great games played in all of the top three divisions. Here’s a look back at a few more impactful contests from the weekend.
Desert Vista vs. Saguaro
This was an extremely intriguing matchup between unbeaten and fourth ranked Desert Vista from Division I and the undisputed top ranked Saguaro Sabercats, from much smaller Division III. Saguaro showed no fear, executing their spread offense attack with precision and jumping out to a big lead at the half, 28-6. D.J. Foster (quite possibly the player of the year to this point) had 135 yards and two touchdown runs while Dakota Reistad had two big catches for 126 yards, both going for scores. However Desert Vista had moved the ball efficiently, and mistakes and turnovers were to blame for only putting up six points. The second half, the much bigger and deeper Desert Vista team took control immediately, scoring on the first possession to trim the lead to 28-14. Saguaro uses a number of players on both offense and defense, and the fatigue from battling larger, fresher players was showing. The offense couldn’t move the ball, and the defense couldn’t keep the ball out of the end zone. Desert Vista methodically drove for two more scores to tie, and then kicked a 30-yard field goal as time expired for the 31-28 win. It was a valiant effort for Saguaro, and although the outcome was surely disappointing, they proved they could hang with one of the best teams in Arizona’s toughest division.
Red Mountain vs. Desert Ridge
Last year’s state runner up Desert Ridge entered as the third ranked team in Division I, with their only loss this season again coming to last year’s champion, Hamilton. Host team Red Mountain was ranked eighth and in need of a good performance having lost two games already. Desert Ridge asserted control early, grabbing a 13-0 lead at halftime. The second half was a different story, dominated by Red Mountain. Desert Ridge quarterback Parker Rasmussen did not play this game, and while wide receiver Jordan Becerra filled in beautifully last year during their playoff run, he doesn’t present the throwing threat that Rasmussen does. Red Mountain solved the one-dimensional offense, holding Becerra and the running attack to 54 yards and only 11 plays the entire second half. Meanwhile, Red Mountain’s running back Marcus Brantley was finding lanes and sparking an unlikely 20-13 comeback victory. Brantley finished with 170 yards on the ground in the win.
Centennial vs. Ironwood Ridge
The best game in Division II featured second ranked Centennial against third ranked Ironwood Ridge, both unbeaten. This was an impressively played game by both defenses, but Centennial was able to take a 14-0 lead in the final quarter. After Ironwood Ridge finally scored on a Mitch Fischer run, they recovered the following kickoff on a fluke bounce near the sidelines. However, Centennial’s defense rose to the challenge stopping Ironwood Ridge on four straight plays to regain possession. Zach Hoffpauir cemented the 21-7 win, capping a 79-yard drive with a 3-yard touchdown run. Both teams appear to be viable contenders, but Centennial is clearly a notch above at the moment.