Football is often a game of attrition, and everyone has walking wounded (some worse than walking), and to several coaches' credit, there's little whining and bemoaning.
But injuries have ravaged several East Valley schools already this season, and it appears to be a growing list of quality and quantity by the week.
This week, for example, is chock-full of interesting matchups, yet without several key players it could be a little tougher to tell where everyone stands (if kids can actually stand) after this weekend.
Hamilton at Mountain Pointe: The Huskies' narrow win against Liberty (Nev.) without six starters and 11 contributors, mostly from their defense, wide receiver and offensive line. Huskies coach Steve Belles said he hasn't had this many kids out at one time in his eight years at the school. He didn't get into specifics as it relates to a timetable for each kid, but a couple of them figure to be out a few more weeks, while a couple others could return this week. Still, it's likely at least a hand's worth of starters won't play in Friday night's big matchup.
Mountain Pointe is without a leader in RB/LB Wesley Payne. Pride coach Norris Vaughan said Payne - arguably the team's heart and soul on offense and defense - could be back in a couple weeks so long as no broken/dislocated bones were found in his elbow. So far that's been the case.
Desert Mountain: The other school which suffered a massive blow of injuries on top of the insult that was a 28-0 lead-turned-35-28 loss to rival-Chaparral last week. Wolves coach Tony Tabor said he's not expecting standout WR Mark Andrews to play this week against high-flying Horizon (thigh/knee). Obviously that would center Christian Boettcher; running back/safety Daniel Fedorka, defensive backs Andy Menth and Gary McKay and linebacker Blake Hutchings.
Tabor said he's hoping Andrews, Fedorka and Hutchings can return next week, but wasn't yet sure about the others.
Desert Ridge: Just when the Jaguars get QB Tarek Morrison back in the fold last week, 9 months after suffering torn knee ligaments in last year's playoffs, the team's leading receiver goes down. E.J. McClanahan will be out an extended period of time after suffering an upper body injury. McClanahan leads the Jaguars with seven receptions for 123 yards and two touchdowns this season on a team which hasn't thrown often. The Jaguars host Brophy this week, a team without the "QB" portion of QB/DB Brian Woodward, who can only play defense because of a broken arm.
Mark Heller is the East Valley Tribune sports editor. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (480) 898-6576.