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NEW THIS WEEK
All-Tribune First Team Offense
ORO VALLEY — It would have been easy for Higley coach Eddy Zubey to cite any number of little things that contributed to his team's 34-31 loss at Canyon del Oro in the first round of the Division III state playoffs.
Well, that was interesting.
The fifth installment of the Williams Field-Higley showdown had all the anticipation and elements of a legitimate rivalry: There were region title and playoff seeding implications, a standing-room-only crowd, and plenty of electricity in the air well before kickoff.
A neighborhood rivalry which could have been one of the better showcases in Higley-vs.-Williams Field’s brief history might lose some of its luster.
A 28-point third quarter looked a little more like the Scottsdale Saguaro football team people were used to.
It’s time to find out much more about Higley’s position as the playoffs approach, with this matchup followed by Williams Field next week to end the regular season. The Knights have a legitimate shot in a shootout with RB Ricky Marshall and sophomore QB Tyler Bloom, and this one could be along those lines. The problem is trying to stop Saguaro, something Williams Field and Queen Creek couldn’t do early on, did for stretches in their respective games, but couldn’t in the end. That’s a problem given Higley’s struggles defensively in periods this season, and because QC and Williams Field have pushed around Higley when those schools have played one another. This is easily a better Higley team than any in the past few years, and the Knights now know where they stand with eight games counting after losing their two-game appeal of an ineligible player from early in the season. But neither Williams Field nor QC’s defense could stop Luke Rubenzer, Christian Kirk and J.T. Nettleton.
Prediction: Saguaro 42, Higley 28
-- Mark Heller
No. 9 Higley at No. 8 Canyon del Oro: Those first two games of the season Higley (pictured in blue) forfeited for using an ineligible might have ultimately helped the Knights stay slightly higher in the playoff seedings, but the Knights would have probably been more comfortable facing No. 6 Shadow Ridge or No. 7 Sabino (plus it wouldn’t set up a possible quarterfinal rematch against No. 1 Williams Field). CDO is balanced, but the Dorados are going to run the ball (240 yards per game, 6.2 yards per carry), and that’s been a troublesome area for the Knights’ defense (see Phoenix Christian, Queen Creek, Saguaro and Williams Field games). Conversely, however, Higley can run the ball with Ricky Marshall and throw with QB Tyler Bloom back in the fold this week after missing the Williams Field loss with a shoulder injury. Further, the CDO schedule hasn’t been stingy, are they ready to handle Higley’s offensive balance.
Prediction: Higley 31, Canyon del Oro 24
Higley started slow but finished strong in a 40-18 victory over McClintock on homecoming night. The Chargers (3-5) jumped out to a 12-0 lead in the second quarter after Dominic Orona scored on a 32-yard touchdown run, but Higley (7-1) quickly came back and scored a pair of touchdowns in the second quarter to take a 14-12 lead into halftime.
Tyler Bloom threw for five touchdowns and 315 yards on 18-of-26 passing to lead Higley to a 43-14 road win over Apache Junction.
Bailey Anderson, Gilbert Christian: 551 yards, 10 TD...
Tyler Bloom, Higley: 315 yards, 5 TD...
Zach Werlinger, Basha (pictured): 304 yards, 2 TD, 2 rush TD...
John Clark, Mountain View: 294 yards, TD...
Nick Smith, Scottsdale Prep: 264 yards, 5 TD...
Josh Eckley, Marcos de Niza: 263 yards, 5 TD...
Luke Rubenzer, Saguaro: 261 yards, 2 TD...
Kyle Johnson, Seton Catholic: 228 yards, 3 TD...
Payton Haslam, Mesquite: 214 yards, 2 TD...
Caleb Murray-Thomas, Red Mountain: 211 yards, 2 TD...
Daniel Bridge-Gadd, Paradise Valley: 191 yards, 4 TD...
Blake Young, Highland: 185 yards, TD...
Kyle Allen, Desert Mountain: 183 yards, 3 TD
Brandon Haagsma, Valley Christian: 126 yards, 4 TD...
Dalton Sneed, Horizon (pictured): 363 yards, 7 TD
Kyle Allen, Desert Mountain: 350 yards, 2 TD
Luke Rubenzer, Saguaro: 327 yards, 3 TD, TD run
John Clark, Mountain View: 293 yards, 4 TD
Emanuel Gant, Tempe: 272 yards, 5 TD
Tyler Bloom, Higley: 270 yards, 4 TD
Kyle Johnson, Seton Catholic: 249 yards, 5 TD, 2 TD runs
Jeddediah Fagg, Williams Field: 210 yards, 3 TD
Peter Campbell, Arcadia: 205 yards, 2 TD
Zach Werlinger, Basha: 200 yards, 2 TD, TD run
Daniel Bridge-Gadd, Paradise Valley: 198 yards, 3 TD
Luke Pineda, Campo Verde: 160 yards, 2 TD, TD run
Chandler Fox, Chaparral: 149 yards, 3 TD
Higley bounced back from their only loss of the season to Queen Creek last week with a 52-7 rout over Phoenix South Mountain on Friday.
Higley QB Tyler Bloom is all smiles after beating Phoenix South Mountain on Oct. 4, 2013.
Queen Creek remains undefeated and handed visiting Higley its first loss of the season by a score of 56-35.
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.
Emanuel Gant, Tempe: 368 yards, 3 TD...
Dalton Sneed, Horizon: 409 yards, 4 TD...
Zach Werlinger, Basha (pictured): 396 yards, 2 TD...
John Clark, Mountain View: 306 yards, 5 TD...
Sean Paul Brophy, Chaparral: 302 yards, 2 TD...
Tyler Bloom, Higley: 298 yards, TD...
Kyle Allen, Desert Mountain: 288 yards, 3 TD...
Luke Rubenzer, Saguaro: 258 yards, 6 TD.
Zach Werlinger, Basha (pictured): 453 yards, 3 TD...
Emanuel Gant, Tempe: 451 yards, 5 TD...
John Clark, Mountain View: 329 yards, 4 TD...
Brian Lewerke, Pinnacle: 321 yards, 6 TD...
Dalton Sneed, Horizon: 299 yards, 3 TD...
Tyler Bloom, Higley: 261 yards, 2 TD...
Antonio Hinojosa, Mountain Pointe: 180 yards, 3 TD...
In what was a back-and-forth contest, Higley kicker Erik Fritz was able to connect on a 22-yard field goal with just 15 seconds left for the deciding three points in a 27-24 win against Cactus Shadows.
Tyler Bloom, Higley: 402 yards, 5 TD
Bryce Perkins, Chandler: 376 yards, 2 TD
Josh Eckley, Marcos de Niza: 359 yards, 6 TD
Kyle Allen, Desert Mountain: 356 yards, 5 TD
Emanuel Gant, Tempe (pictured): 345 yards, 5 TD
Russell Corriveau, Poston Butte: 323 yards, 2 TD
Daniel Bridge-Gadd, Paradise Valley: 308 yards, 2 TD
Luke Rubenzer, Saguaro: 303 yards, 5 TD
John Clark, Mountain View: 301 yards, 3 TD
Zach Werlinger, Basha: 271 yards, 4 TD
Sean Paul Brophy, Chaparral: 259 yards, 3 TD
Blake Young, Highland: 205 yards, 2 TD
Payton Haslam, Mesquite: 202 yards, TD
Dalton Sneed, Horizon: 189 yards, 2 TD
Michael Amado, Skyline: 170 yards, 3 TD
Ricky Marshall and Tyler Bloom accounted for all 6 of Higley’s touchdowns as the Knights held on to a three point lead late to win 42-39 over visiting Desert View.
Dalton Sneed, Horizon (pictured): 449 yards, 6 TD
Zach Werlinger, Basha: 399 yards, TD
John Clark, Mountain View: 315 yards, 3 TD, 2-pt. conversion
Sean Paul Brophy, Chaparral: 315 yards, 6 TD
Nick Smith, Scottsdale Prep: 294 yards, 7 TD
Gabe Losada, St. Mary’s: 276 yards, 4 TD
Tyler Bloom, Higley: 272 yards, 4 TD
Thomas Lehman, Notre Dame: 258 yards, 3 TD
Brian Lewerke, Pinnacle: 241 yards, 2 TD
Bryce Perkins, Chandler: 149 yards, 5 TD
It’s a lot of fun to watch the East Valley’s best go toe-to-toe throughout the season, and there will be no shortage of those heavyweight showdowns in upcoming weeks.
Higley’s Tyler Bloom and teammate Ricky Marshall combined for all seven of the team’s touchdowns as the visiting Knights defeated Yuma, 58-14.