These matchups are inevitable. Whether sooner or later, a second helping is almost always required for a football team to play on.
As it happens in the 2013 playoffs, this playoff quarterfinals week has turned into a full litter’s worth of redux rendezvous spanning Division I and II. Of the eight games in the so-called “bigger school” classifications, six are of the “take two” variety (five in the East Valley, plus Glendale Deer Valley vs. Peoria Centennial).
Half of these teams are going to need an about face performance from the first time around. Those who won the first time around almost unanimously agreed they’ll have to play better to win again.
Everyone agreed there aren’t many cats still in the bag. What they’ve already seen from one another is pretty much what they’re going to get. Again.
No. 10 Basha at No. 2 Chandler
When: 7 p.m. Friday
Where: Chandler High School (350 N. Arizona Ave., Chandler)
What already happened: Chandler 49, Basha 7 (Oct. 25): Chandler QB Paul Perkins threw for 180 yards and three touchdowns and rushed for 91 yards and another TD. Chase Lucas ran for 113 yards and scored three times. The Wolves’ defense held Basha to 91 yards passing and two interceptions, and Rajhan Meriwether managed only 80 yards rushing on 22 carries.
What might happen: Probably something different. While Chandler is the favorite coming in and arguably the hottest team (along with Desert Ridge) not named Mountain Pointe, the Bears are riding high after last week’s shootout win against Horizon. Basha is also healthier than the first meeting, and Meriwether’s ability to run the ball has incrementally grown the past few weeks for the Bears. He’s key, because it’s no secret Basha’s offense is quick-striking with Werlinger and his wide receivers when Meriwether (156 yards last week) is able to run and provide balance. The big caveats will be Basha’s ability to run the ball and avoid turnovers, and whether the Bears can stop a Wolves’ offense which has remained elite during this seven-game winning streak.
No. 6 Pinnacle at No. 3 Hamilton
When: 7 p.m. Friday
Where: Hamilton High School (3700 S. Arizona Ave., Chandler)
What already happened: Hamilton 24, Pinnacle 20 (Sept. 12): It was easily the best game of the first-time meetings, as the Huskies’ home winning streak dating back to 2004 was in serious jeopardy. Frankie Bueno’s 62-yard touchdown run early in the fourth quarter gave Hamilton the lead, and the Huskies defense hung on late despite a Pinnacle field goal which pulled the Pioneers to 21-20 (some wondered if the Pioneers should have gone for it on fourth-and-goal from the 2). The Pioneers got a big night from Brian Lewerke and solid running from Josh Hoekstra.
What might happen: Again, this could be the best of all six EV matchups. Hamilton is a healthier bunch in the past two weeks, as the Huskies were without several starters in the first meeting. Pinnacle, however, is also better, and the Pioneers’ are going to be every bit the handful they were the first time around. “If you play them tight (in a first meeting), win or lose, it’s been a big advantage for us most of the time,” Hamilton coach Steve Belles said. “Our kids won’t underestimate them. I think Lewerke is as good as anyone in the state.” Can Hamilton run the ball as it did the first time? The Huskies believe they’ve made significant progress offensively with a healthier lineup the past three weeks. Can Pinnacle execute against Hamilton’s defense as well or slightly better (especially early) than the first meeting? This figures to be another nail-biter.
No. 12 Brophy at No. 4 Desert Ridge
When: 7 p.m. Friday
Where: Desert Ridge High School (10045 E. Madero Ave., Mesa)
What already happened: Desert Ridge 38, Brophy 14 (Sept. 27): Thanks to its defense forcing turnovers, a young, injury-riddled Brophy squad played toe-to-toe with Desert Ridge and its powerful rushing attack until early in the third quarter. But the Broncos’ offense couldn’t score off those turnovers, and the Morrison brothers (Taren and Tarek) eventually took over with their big-play abilities. Morrison, a candidate for Player of the Year, ran for 210 yards and four touchdowns in the win, as the Jaguars outscored the Broncos 31-7 in the second half.
What might happen: This should be a closer affair, if only because Brophy was without injured QB Brian Woodward (he played his usual defense but couldn’t throw because of a broken arm). Woodward is a dynamic presence, and with a couple more healthy bodies back in recent weeks, the Broncos can make a push, and the defense can contain Desert Ridge for awhile. Of course, most teams have against what’s been a one-dimensional Jaguars’ rushing attack, but that dimension has remained unstoppable this season.
No. 7 Campo Verde at No. 2 Mesquite
When: 7 p.m. Friday
Where: Mesquite High School (500 S. McQueen Road, Gilbert)
What already happened: Mesquite 30, Campo Verde 0 (Nov. 1): What was billed to be Gilbert’s Week 10 battle royale between these two upstart Division II programs quickly turned into a laugher. Mesquite’s offensive balance was nearly impossible to stop (162 yards rushing, 225 yards passing). After losing Gabe Ogbonnaya for the season with a torn ACL the week before, Campo Verde couldn’t establish a running game and allow QB Luke Pineda time to throw. The first two passes to wide receivers were dropped, Campo Verde coach Max Ragsdale counted 26 missed assignments defensively, and the rout was on. "We know they’re a good football team," he said. "I don’t think they’re 30 points better than us but it’s going to be just as tough the second time. "... We dipped our toe in the water a little too deep and it didn't work out, now we know what to expect."
What might happen: Campo Verde has since played well again in beating Tucson Sahuaro last week to begin the playoffs, but Mesquite’s defense (especially its secondary) is a much tougher task to dissect, especially without the big-play running game Ogbonnaya brought to the table. The Coyotes believe they didn’t see much in the game the team hadn’t been prepared for, but simply froze in execution. Mesquite knows Campo Verde is going to come out firing early, and if the Wildcats can hold on through the first couple waves of emotion, the defense is capable of again shutting down Campo’s offense. The onus will be on Campo’s defense to figure out a way to make Mesquite one-dimensional (likely in the passing game), and the Wildcats are big front up front.
No. 6 Marcos de Niza at No. 3 Chaparral
When: 7 p.m. Friday
Where: Chaparral High School (6935 E. Gold Dust Ave., Scottsdale)
What already happened: Marcos de Niza 56, Chaparral 45 (Sept. 6): At the time viewed as one of the big upsets of the early-season schedule, the Padres were unstoppable behind dual-threat QB Josh Eckley (340 yards passing, 106 yards rushing, 7 total TDs) and RB Jake Lagunas (129 yards and 3 TD receiving, 57 yards rushing, 37-yard TD pass). Chaparral amassed 277 yards rushing but QB Sean Paul Brophy had a rough night. But not as rough as Chaparral’s defense.
What might happen: After last week’s first-round playoff win over previous-nemesis Tucson Ironwood Ridge capped a wild week in which Marcos’ coach Roy Lopez was placed — and remains — on administrative leave, which way will the Padres go from here? Chaparral is significantly better than Ironwood Ridge, and the Firebirds are obviously worried about Eckley, but also come in confident the September defensive disasters have been rebuilt. The team’s play since that September night would concur. “We are anxious for Friday, we didn’t play well in that earlier game,” Chaparral coach Dave Huffine said. “A lot of the credit goes to them and what they were able to do, but we feel like we can play much better and we have played very well lately. The kids are probably a little tired of watching that earlier game as I have it playing on a loop on every TV we have all week long.”
Mark Heller is the East Valley Tribune sports editor. He can be reached at email@example.com or (480) 898-6576.