15 for 15: Week 3
Each week of the 2015 football season, I'll take you through my top 15 match-ups of the week, with analysis and predictions. The rankings associated with each team in the 15 for 15 breakdown come from the ArizonaVarsity.com media poll.
Last week's record: 11-3 (No result in Sabino/Verrado game)
Week 2: (* denotes interdivision game)
15) Safford at Apache Junction
Apache Junction (0-2) has made way too much progress under head coach Vance Miller to start the season 0-3, but division 3 foe Safford (1-1) is paying the Prospectors a visit this week after dismantling Thatcher 26-6. I'll be at this game to see if AJ can get their first win of 2015, and to check out Safford's big man in the trenches, 6-7, 330-pound Ralph Frias.
Prediction: Safford's loss to Seton Catholic happened because of an efficient Sentinel passing attack, and that's what I think Apache Junction will bring on Friday.
Apache Junction 27, Safford 21
14) (8) Lake Havasu at Cibola*
Well, Cibola (2-1) has certainly surprised me this season. Lucky Arvizo's team is passing the ball at a rate that would make previous Raiders teams blush, with QB Baily Arvizo on pace to throw the ball 377 times this season, up from 208 last year. Lake Havasu has made their way into division 4's top 10 rankings with wins over Winslow and Yuma, and they did it by spreading the wealth. 11 Lake Havasu players have at least one carry so far this year.
Prediction: In a stylistic mismatch I'll always take the running team, especially when that team already beat Yuma 49-0 this year.
Lake Havasu 39, Cibola 28
13) (5) Cesar Chavez at Alhambra*
Whoever wins this game controls their own destiny in D3's section 4.
Prediction: Alhambra (2-0) will be helped by the fact that they've found an offensive rhythm and put up 123 points in 2 games, but depth will become an issue here. Cesar Chavez (1-1) is much better against the run than the pass, so if Alhambra gets behind, they may be out of, excuse the pun, options.
Cesar Chavez 42, Alhambra 28
12) (9) ASU Prep at (4) Valley Christian
Congrats to ASU Prep (2-0) on breaking into the division 5 top 10 with wins over Veritas and Tanque Verde! It might be a short trip though, the Valley Christian Trojans (1-1) know they had a chance to upset a division 3 team last week in McClintock, but the game got away from them late.
Prediction: It won't be 49-0 like it was last year, but it's still have the same result.
Valley Christian 42, ASU Prep 30
11) (7) Westview at Deer Valley
Westview (1-1) rebounded from a close loss to now #1 Skyline with a win over Sunnyside. Can the Knights' rushing attack hand Deer Valley (2-0) their first loss? At fist glance, Eric Bolus' defense isn't playing to the standard that Deer Valley is used to. If they want to win this game, they're going to need to hold Westview under 30.
Prediction: DV QB Easton Palomino has been taking care of the ball extremely well, but I think Westview forces a turnover or two tonight, and that's the difference.
Westview 35, Deer Valley 21
10) Liberty at (9) Perry
Be honest. If Perry (3-0) was 0-3, and Liberty (0-3) was 3-0 right now, would you be surprised? All of the sudden, this game represents Perry's shot to earn some real respect, and Liberty's shot to get a quality win, and avoid being the 17th team in a 16-team D1 playoff.
Prediction: Perry has already produced 39% of their total 2014 offensive yards through 3 games, and 35% of 2014's total points. The Pumas are on a role, and Liberty is reeling from 10 turnovers in their first 3 games. While I give the edge to Perry, especially as the home team, the real contest for me is who will have more tackles? Chase Hulbert or Case Hatch?
Perry 34, Liberty 24
9) Salpointe at (8) Ironwood Ridge
Salpointe (2-1) has played a strange early season schedule made up of teams from three different divisions in three very different parts of the state. Now they get to test themselves against Ironwood Ridge (1-1) in a battle of two of Southern Arizona's most respected programs.
Prediction: Solely because it's their third straight home game, and they survived a beating from Hamilton to come back and do the same to Westwood, I like the Nighthawks. But watch DJ Hinton catch 2 TDs and prove me wrong for picking against the Lancers, I wouldn't be surprised.
Ironwood Ridge 21, Salpointe 20
8) (4) Show Low at Florence
Show Low (2-0) has been making voters wonder if a few D4 first place votes should have been cast their way from the get-go, and Florence (2-0) might be tied with Corona del Sol as the top team that hasn't cracked the top-10 rankings yet.
Prediction: I want to pick Florence in an upset. They're so balanced. And they're at home. But they've got a young QB, and Rhett Ricedorff and Show Low have matured so much from last year's 5-7 campaign. You know what, if I'm wrong, I'm wrong. I pick the Gophers. .
Florence 33, Show Low 21
7) Tempe at Desert View
I don't really want Desert View's (3-0) winning streak to end. It's too cool of a storyline after they lost 17 straight games prior to this season. Still, Tempe (0-2) is looking for their first win, and they played Buckeye and Marcos de Niza very close- they just haven't found a way to put up points.
Prediction: Desert View ended their streak, and now it's time for Tempe to end theirs. I like the Buffalos in a route.
Tempe 45, Desert View 14
6) (6) Tempe Prep at (5) Arizona Lutheran
Tempe Prep's (1-2) schedule is insane, but eventually you have to go from a tough opponent to the big bad wolf. Arizona Lutheran's (1-1) confidence might be a bit shaken after giving up 5 rushing TDs to Jermiah Brown of American Leadership. Can Tempe Prep take advantage?
Prediction: Arizona Lutheran is still extremely talented, and can challenge for the D5 title, but they haven't been through the fire like Tempe Prep has over the last 2 weeks.
Tempe Prep 24, Arizona Lutheran 21
5) (8) Chaparral at (3) Desert Edge*
D1 Chaparral (1-1) should be able to handle D3 Desert Edge whether or not QB Tehran Thomas takes the field, but the fact that they had trouble moving the ball against Chandler, and Desert Edge is fresh off holding Paradise Valley to just 6 points in the first half (before the flood gates opened) means this game is far from a gimme.
Prediction: I like Christian Skeptaris to find the end zone and break open what will be a close game early on. I'm also trying to imagine the CRUNCH when Roshaun Johnson and Kurt Shughart collide. Should be awesome.
Chaparral 24, Desert Edge 7
4) (3) Marana Mountain View at Sunnyside
Sunnyside, outside of their Enron-style practices when it comes to accounting for tackles, is a fun team to root for that could go a long way in D2. I expect QB Nick O'Hagin and WR Daniel Hernandez to have a very big game for the Blue Devils, but who on their defense has an answer for MMV's Isaiah Lovett? The kid has 385 yards receivin and 5 TDs on JUST 11 CATCHES.
Prediction: Marana Mountain View has been my "sleeper" team for 8 months now, and now it seems everyone else is awake. They can't get lazy if they want to keep this streak going, and this week I think they take care of business on the road.
Marana Mountain View 49, Sunnyside 42
3) (6) Desert Ridge at (1) Chandler
These two teams haven't met for a few years, and when they meet on Thursday night, the Jaguars (2-0) will be without a pair of QBs, and the Wolves (2-1) will still be without Chase Lucas. Hopefully is they see each other in the playoffs, the teams are at full strength.
Prediction:I predict sloppiness. Chandler is playing on 5 days rest for the second straight week, and Desert Ridge is in damage control mode offensively. It'll be close, but Chandler escapes.
Chandler 24, Desert Ridge 17
2) (10) Sunnyslope at (1) Paradise Valley
A Sunnyslope (2-0) assistant coach has been hitting me up on social media, implying that the 20 people who make up our media poll must be idiots if we don't have the Vikings ranked higher. This is his team's chance to prove us right, as they take on the division's #1 overall team, Paradise Valley (3-0). The Trojans hope to avoid a hangover from their televised win over Desert Edge last week.
Prediction: Sunnyslope might have the best defense in all of division 3, and they'll need it against Daniel Bridge-Gadd's fleet of receivers. Paradise Valley is too good against the run for a one dimensional offense to knock them off the throne. Unless Sunnyslope is ready to throw, they'll experience their first loss.
Paradise Valley 30, Sunnyslope 21
1) (10) Higley at Tucson
Is this really the best game in the state this week? It's my list, and I say yes.
Higley (2-0) and Tucson (2-0) are two teams that I thought could be fighting for their playoff lives at the end of the season, yet here they are at 2-0, each with a quality win to their name over Cesar Chavez and Canyon del Oro. It's an odd matchup, stylistically and regionally, and one that's never happened before in the history of either program (yes, I know Higley is only 14 years old).
Prediction: I think that next year both of these teams make a bunch of noise in whatever division the AIA decides best suits them. Consider this a preview of a possible 2016 playoff matchup. For now, I take the team with a little more experience against tough opponents, like Williams Field and Saguaro.
Higley 31, Tucson 26
Basha over Desert Vista, just because I saw a lot of people doing the opposite and I like to be different.
Bears 27, Thunder 21