In perhaps the signature play of his season, Queen Creek’s Matt Guida (32) leaps over a Nogales defender before dodging a couple more on his way to a 61-yard touchdown run in the Div. III semifinals.
Desert Mountain at Mountain View
Desert Mountain QB Kyle Allen pumps his fist after throwing a TD during the game, Friday, Nov. 2, 2012 at Mountain View. [Brant Clinard/ Special to Tribune]
Desert Mountain at Chaparral
Desert Mountain's Mark Andrews is wrapped up by Chaparral's Zurek Brian during the second quarter in Scottsdale, Friday, Sept. 16, 2011. [Matt Pavelek/ For the Tribune]
Ironwood Ridge at Marcos de Niza
Marcos de Niza quarterback Josh Eckley looks downfield for an open receiver while taking on Ironwood Ridge, Friday, Sept. 21, 2012 in Tempe. [Jerry Burch/Special to Tribune]
10 to Watch 2013: Matt Guida
Matt Guida, Sr., RB, Queen Creek
The reigning Tribune Player of the Year made defenses look silly a year ago, weaving his way to a state-best 2,829 yards and 31 touchdowns. Guida’s yards-per-carry average of 13.87 was tops among players with 75 or more rushing attempts as he led the Bulldogs to an undefeated season and the Division III state title. Guida is the only skill player of consequence returning for Queen Creek, and with talented backup Marcus Still choosing to focus on baseball as a senior, Guida will be counted on to carry a heavy load. He was up to the challenge a season ago and looks to put up eye-popping numbers again in 2013.
No. 7 Desert Mountain at Brophy
The game plan is clear: Keep the ball away from Desert Mountain’s offense and try to make anyone other than Desert Mountain WR Mark Andrews beat the Broncos. Brophy, of course, has defensive coordinator Gary Galante, one of the best in the state. This may be a different Brophy team (inexperienced) but what opponent has ever seen Brophy on the schedule and not been nervous? The Wolves will face a hostile environment at Phoenix College, but they have before and persevered. This might be the time to catch Brophy while the Broncos are still figuring out what they have and what they can do. Experience matters, at least in the earlygoing.
Prediction: Desert Mountain 24, Brophy 17
-- Mark Heller
Best player: Josh Eckley, QB, Marcos de Niza
Eckley had a fantastic junior season but flew under the radar during the offseason as other local quarterbacks committed to Division I colleges. He’s back on the map in a big way as the Padres are 4-1 and ranked No. 4 in Division II. The team defense has had its problems, but Eckley has been a machine at quarterback. He has completed 63-of-108 passes for 1,106 yards with 17 touchdowns and five interceptions while adding 64 carries for 370 yards and five more scores. Eckley is currently battling an ankle injury, but at full strength, he might be the toughest player to stop in the East Valley...
Honorable mention: Emanuel Gant, QB, Tempe; Dalton Sneed, QB, Horizon; Taren Morrison, RB, Desert Ridge; Bryce Perkins, QB, Chandler; Clark Brown, WR, Mountain View; Luke Quinn, RB/LB, Horizon; Chip White, DB, Highland.