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In some ways, Scott Hare feels he’s picking up where Kelley Moore left off.
All-Tribune First Team Offense
There were no encores or drawn out performances – in fact, Kyle Allen’s senior night was more of a cameo than anything else. But the Desert Mountain quarterback certainly made the most of his 24 minutes of action.
Mesa running back Turrell Pietz-Noble gets tackled by Skyline's Gabe Lopez and Wyatt Meier during the game against Skyline Friday, Oct. 25, 2013 in Mesa. [Brant Clinard/ Special to Tribune]
Mesa coach Kelley Moore talks to his running back Turrell Pietz-Noble about the importance of keeping your cool during the game against Skyline Friday, Oct. 25, 2013 in Mesa.
It took more than 40 minutes but Skyline got its offense in gear – despite missing its injured big guns – and just may have played itself into the postseason.
Mesa's Turrell Pietz-Noble runs for long gain during Mesa's game against Mt. View in Mesa, Friday, Oct. 18, 2013. [Greg Herriman/ Special to Tribune]
Mesa's Turrell Pietz-Noble runs for a big gain during Mesa's game against Mountain View in Mesa, Friday, Oct. 18, 2013. [Greg Herriman/ Special to Tribune]
Mesa's Turrell Pietz-Noble catches a punt during Mesa's game against Mountain View in Mesa, Friday, Oct. 18, 2013. [Greg Herriman/ Special to Tribune]
Playing shorthanded, Mountain View needed most of the first half to get its offense in gear and find the up-tempo rhythm it has used to get in position for postseason play.
Francisco Avitia, Skyline (pictured): 329 yards, 6 TD
Luke Quinn, Horizon: 188 yards, 3 TD
Kam’Ron Johnson, Tempe: 187 yards, TD
Paul Perry, Mesquite: 175 yards, 4 TD
Weston Barlow, Queen Creek: 165 yards, TD
Zech Gatling, Scottsdale Christian: 163 yards, TD
Truman Tucker, Skyline: 159 yards
Turrell Pietz-Noble, Mesa: 152 yards, 2 TD
Ricky Marshall, Higley: 131 yards, TD
Rajhan Meriwether, Basha: 123 yards
Elijah Castro, Chaparral: 119 yards, 3 TD
Ethan Johnson, Westwood: 118 yards, TD
Deion Warren, Desert Mountain: 100 yards
Red Mountain made a statement Friday night.
Red Mountain’s defensive lineman Xavier Davis tackles running back Turrell Pietz-Noble as quarterback Chris Shelton looks on after handing the ball off Friday, Oct. 11, 2013 in Mesa. [Brant Clinard/ Special to Tribune]
Red Mountain linebacker Seth Robinson tackles Mesa running back Turrell Pietz-Noble Friday, Oct. 11, 2013 in Mesa. [Brant Clinard/ Special to Tribune]
Mesa quarterback Chris Shelton hands off to running back Turrell Pietz-Noble against Red Mountain Friday, Oct. 11, 2013 in Mesa. [Brant Clinard/ Special to Tribune]
The talented sophomore was not expected to make this big of an impact early on, but injuries forced coach Shaun Aguano’s hand and Lucas has excelled once given the opportunity. He burst onto the scene in a season-opening win over Peoria Centennial and has totaled 49 carries for 301 yards and five touchdowns as well as 17 receptions for a team-best 242 yards and three touchdowns. The Wolves have talented skill guys across the board, but it’s mighty impressive that this young sophomore may be the most dangerous of them all.
Honorable mention: Finton Connolly, OL/DL, Campo Verde; Turrell Pietz-Noble, RB, Mesa; Doc O’Connor, WR, Basha; Tyler Bloom, QB, Higley; Brandon Hatfield, WR, Poston Butte.
Mesa leaned on its defense and it responded Friday.
Weston Barlow, Queen Creek: 320 yards, 4 TD...
Turrell Pietz-Noble, Mesa: 230 yards, 3 TD...
Ryan Velez, Brophy: 187 yards, TD...
Brandyn Leonard, Mountain Pointe (pictured): 180 yards, 3 TD...
Dylon Gillette, Gilbert: 150 yards...
Kam’ron Johnson, Tempe: 148 yards, 2 TD...
Ricky Marshall, Higley: 144 yards, 2 TD...
Ethan Johnson, Westwood: 138 yards, 3 TD...
Francisco Ativia, Skyline: 120 yards, 2 TD...
Cade Van Raaphorst, Desert Vista: 120 yards, TD...
Paul Perry, Mesquite: 116 yards, TD...
Elijah Castro, Chaparral: 112 yards...
Antonio Marchica, Cactus Shadows: 111 yards, TD.
Winner gets into the playoff and loser goes home? It’s not quite the simple, but it’s not far off either. Both teams are fighting for one of the final couple postseason berths (Skyline at No. 16 and Mesa at No. 18). The Coyotes left everyone holding their collective breaths with last week’s monumental effort against Desert Mountain in a 50-49 loss in the final minute. A win there might have cemented the Coyotes’ playoff fortunes, but now Skyline really needs a win (possibly two) to further its season. Mesa’s defense, however, is going to offer a better challenge than Desert Mountain’s did last week, and the Jackrabbits, too, are in the playoff hunt. Can Skyline handle Mesa’s physicality on defense. Skyline couldn’t stop Desert Mountain’s passing game (no shame in that) but can they handle Turrell Pietz-Noble and his 950 yards rushing and 8 TD? If it comes down to the wire where special teams and the kicking game are pivotal, Mesa holds a big advantage. No reason to think last year’s 27-24 win by Skyline can’t be repeated in score, competitiveness and outcome.
Prediction: Skyline 24, Mesa 20
-- Mark Heller
Mesa's Turrell Pietz-Noble breaks off a long run to the 1 yard line while taking on Westwood, Thursday, Sept. 12, 2013 in Mesa. [James McGuire/ Special to Tribune]
Two late turnovers within 25 yards of the end zone, and a stingy Mesa defense doomed Westwood to its first loss of the season, a 27-7 defeat to the neighboring Jackrabbits.
Logan Ruppert, Skyline: 278 yards, 2 TD
Joe Kuhlmann, Cactus Shadows: 257 yards, 4 TD
Dezmond Sueing, Westwood: 185 yards, 3 TD
Ryan McCord, Highland: 178 yards, 2 TD
Elijah Castro, Chaparral (pictured): 177 yards, 4 TD
Ricky Marshall, Higley: 164 yards, 4 TD
Turrell Pietz-Noble, Mesa: 160 yards
Gabe Lopez, Skyline: 152 yards, 2 TD
Josh Hoekstra, Pinnacle: 149 yards, TD
Brandon Hatfield, Poston Butte: 139 yards, 3 TD
Bryce Perkins, Chandler: 126 yards, 3 TD
Josh Eckley, Marcos de Niza: 125 yards, 2 TD
Nicholas Bush, Higley: 123 yards, TD
Brennen Dobson, Red Mountain: 120 yards, TD
Matt Guida, Queen Creek: 114 yards, 3 TD
The season opener had not been kind to the Mesa football team the past two seasons, as it was outscored 86-12 by Desert Vista. That’s why when the Jackrabbits pulled out a 12-0 victory over Dobson on Friday night, Moore breathed a sigh of relief.
Coming off a nice win against Westwood last week, especially with its play in the second half, Mesa found itself a little bit. The Jackrabbits struggled offensively against Highland (a 7-3 loss the Jackrabbits might be kicking themselves over later this season for not winning), but the return of Turrell Pietz-Noble to the offensive backfield from injury was a boost Mesa needed to help put up 27 points to go with an aggressive, hard-playing defense. Valley Vista (2-1) has blowout wins against Surprise Willow Canyon and Phoenix North Canyon, sandwiched by a loss to Mountain View. Damian Alarcon (58 percent completion, 6 TD, 3 INT) has done a solid job running the offense, with Terry Juniel and Jeff Harris the team’s big WR threats. The Monsoon isn't a bad team, and can move the ball on Mesa, but the Jackrabbits’ defense isn’t bad either.
Prediction: Mesa 21, Valley Vista 13
-- Mark Heller
Where did that come from? Red Mountain hadn’t scored more than 16 points in a game until last week, and then the return of QB Caleb Murray-Thomas from injury sparked a 49-point rampage on Desert Mountain. Is correlation actual causation here? To an extent, yes. Murray-Thomas makes good decisions and his running ability is a difference-maker. But Desert Mountain’s defense has also been a mess. It’ll be tougher sledding against an unheralded but physical Mesa defense, one which kept the Jackrabbits in the game for a majority of the night against Desert Ridge last week (as did Desert Ridge penalties). Mesa’s offense is limited, though its running game effective with Turrell Pietz-Noble and Javier Martinez. The Jackrabbits also have a big-time kicker in Noe Pereles, so special teams advantage goes to Mesa. But if Murray-Thomas can steer the Lions offense even close to as effectively as the Lions were last week, Mesa is in trouble when it needs to score quickly or find itself in a two-possession deficit...
Prediction: Red Mountain 24, Mesa 17
-- Mark Heller