Football: Semifinals walk through
November 14, 2017 by Les Willsey, AZPreps365
Fifteen games left in the 2017 football season. Ten are this week. The power-rankings have held true almost to perfection with the 1, 2, 3 and 4 seeds advancing to the semifinals in every conference with one variation. That's 6A where No. 7 Red Mountain essentially swiped the spot occupied by No. 2 Desert Ridge.
East Valley and Northeast Valley schools are alive and well in four of the five conferences yet to decide a champion. Here's a glance at the matchups. The semis for 6A, 5A and 4A are Friday with 3A and 2A contests on Saturday:
FRIDAY NOVEMBER 17 (all games at 7 p.m.)
#4 Perry (11-1) vs. #1 Mountain Pointe (10-2) at McClintock HS -- The highest scoring team of the 6A semifinalists (57 point per game) vs. the stingiest team (17 points allowed per game). Mountain Pointe has ramped up its game in postseason. Will it be enough to stifle Perry, hungry for its first trip to the finals?
#7 Red Mountain (10-2) vs. #3 Chandler (10-2) at Hamilton HS -- Rematch from season opener won by Chandler, 42-14. Red Mountain has won 10 games iin a row. It's only losses are to Chandler and Hamilton. Chandler is 7-0 vs. Red Mountain over the last decade and just got through putting up 77 points on Pinnacle.
#3 Liberty (10-2) vs. #2 Centennial (11-1) at Peoria HS -- A rematch of regular-season finale between the schools, won by Liberty, 21-19. Centennial seeking advancement to its fourth consecutive championship game. This is the eighth meeting between them since 2013. Centennial has won five of seven and both postseason matchups.
#4 Notre Dame Prep (12-0) vs. #1 Cienega (12-0) at Marana Mountain View HS -- The conference's lone unbeaten teams survived by a field goal each in the quarterfinals. They've dominated most teams they've faced by each has three wins by a touchdown or less. Statistically similar.
#4 Salpointe (11-1) vs.#1 Sunrise Mountain (11-1) at Ironwood HS -- Salpointe's only loss is to 5A #1 Cienega. Sunrise Mountain's loss to 4A #2 Saguaro. They have one common opponent, Cactus, that both handled with ease. Salpointe seeking its fourth title-game appearance and Sunrise Mountain its first.
#3 Higley (11-1) vs. #2 Saguaro (10-2) at Chaparral HS -- Higley seeking to exorcise demons from 55-28, 70-14, 49-15 and 42-14 losses four of the last five years to Saguaro. The 42-14 defeat took place in early September. Higley and Saguaro have each won nine games in a row. Saguaro seeking a fifth straight championship game berth.
SATURDAY NOVEMBER 18
#4 Benjamin Franklin (11-1) vs. #1 Pusch Ridge (12-0) at Salpointe Catholic HS, 6:30 p.m. -- Pusch Ridge won a title in its only appearance ever in 2015 vs. Northwest Christian and was eliminated in the first round last year by Northwest Christian. Pusch Ridge advanced to this game by beating -- NWC. The Lions unbeaten mark includes a win over last year"s champ American Leadership. They have yield a touchdown per game. Ben Franklin brings an 11-game winning streak with its only loss to American Leadership.
#3 Casteel (12-0) vs. #2 American Leadership Academy (11-1) at Campo Verde HS, 6:30 p.m. -- Casteel was one and done last year in its first stab at postseason play. The Colts have run roughshod over most of their opponents, but escaped with three wins in their closest games. Each of those was essentially one-score triumphs. Casteel edged Florence, 35-26, to advance. American Leadership took down Yuma Catholic last week, rallying in the fourth quarter for a 28-21 win. ALA, The defending champs, have played the toughest schedule of any of the semifinalists battling Pusch Ridge, Benjamin Franklin, Florence, Yuma Catholic, Northwest Christian, Sabino and Fountain Hills. That's the #1, #4, #5, #6 #7 #8 and #12 seeds, respectively, plus this week Casteel.
#3 Thatcher (11-1) vs. #2 Phoenix Christian (12-0) at Fountain Hills HS, 2 p.m. -- Phoenix Christian was bounced from the playoffs last year in a big way by Thatcher in the quarterfinals. Thatcher is the defending champs and did it the hard way last year knocking off PC, Santa Cruz Valley and Round Valley. Thatcher's only loss this season is to top-seed Round Valley. Phoenix Christian is averaging just less than 300 yards rushing per game, but foes can't sleep vs. the pass. Thatcher is run by committee with seven backs gaining between 200 and 700 yards.
#4 Santa Cruz Valley (11-0) vs. #1 Round Valley (12-0) at Fountain Hills HS, 6:30 p.m. -- Round Valley is making its fourth trip to the semis or better in the last five years, but no title to show for it. The Elks were runners-up last year and in 2013. The last football title they won was in 1985 (shared with Snowflake). Their last outright crown was in 2A in 1980. Chances are good this could be the break-through year, but Santa Cruz Valley and/or a title game foe will beg to differ. Santa Cruz Valley lost a 27-26 heart-breaker in the semis last year to eventual champ Thatcher and bowed to American Leadership by four in the 2015 quarters. Santa Cruz Valley's last championship was in 3A in 1980.