Here are some top storylines heading into the third week of the regular season:
Tigers taming the hare
Mesa’s struggles continue with a 79-6 scoring margin through two games, but it’s not for a lack of trying. The silver lining being the Jackrabbits have played the Ahwatukee schools (Mountain Pointe and Desert Vista) and few eyebrows would raise if those two were in the Division I semifinals in November. This week Mesa gets a Gilbert team coming off an impressive showing against rival-Highland. Jared Johnson, all 5-foot-2 of him, ran wild last week and the Tigers would be wise to ride the hot runner. Mesa needs to warm up, or at least find some more goodness for its soul.
Will the real Red Mountain please stand up? OK, it’s only Week 3 so that’s premature, but a Lions team that prided itself on an improved offense was shut down by Mesquite last week. This week’s job against Division I, Section III opponent and former Fiesta friend Brophy is every bit as difficult. The Lions (1-1) barely tried their running game against Mesquite’s stiff defensive front, missed a possible touchdown or two by inches and had trouble with dropped passes. Meanwhile, the Broncos (2-0) have mostly rolled through their first two games outside a late hiccup last week against Anthem Boulder Creek. The Broncos have been well-balanced offensively, as junior D’Amani Grayer ran for 139 yards while fellow back Marche Dennard is expected to return soon from injury. Tyler Bruggman and Devon Allen have been an unstoppable duo in the passing game. The Lions are in for it again if they can’t resurrect their offense against a good Brophy defense.
First test for Williams Field
Williams Field has won a pair of blowouts to begin the season, but the schedule begins to ramp up, starting this week against Campo Verde. The Coyotes defeated Apache Junction in their season opener before losing to Higley last time out. The Black Hawks (2-0) should take care of business, but this game could give them an indication of what needs to be worked on as they prepare for a trip to play Oro Valley Canyon del Oro next week. Campo Verde (1-1) has yet to see a running back like Williams Field’s Alex Howard, and the only way to stay in the game is to slow him down, something much easier said than done.
Revenge for Rasmussen?
Highland pulled off the upset last season by defeating Desert Ridge, 25-24, on a late two-point conversion. The Jaguars (2-0) eventually got it turned around and made the 5A Division I title game, and have the talent to get back there. Desert Ridge quarterback Parker Rasmussen started for Highland as a sophomore before transferring to the Jaguars last season, but the Hawks (1-1) got the better of their former signal caller. Desert Ridge has a big-time showdown against Hamilton next week, but after last year you can bet the Hawks won’t be caught overlooking Highland.
Seton Catholic is loving life in Division IV right now. Thanks to its defense (something not seen consistently at the small Chandler school), the Sentinels (2-0) beat a perennially strong Fountain Hills team on the road Week 1 and had their way with Coronado last week as quarterback Ryan Bresnahan went wild for 270 yards and five total touchdowns (he loves throwing to Adam Englebert). A 3-0 start is obtainable with Division V Tempe Prep on the schedule this Friday night in one of the new scheduling quirks. The Knights (2-0) may be a notch lower in size playing Division V, but everyone has learned they’re no pushover. Stranger things have happened, especially that involve Tempe Prep in the past year. There’s no reason to think the T.P. defense can’t slow down Seton, but can the Sentinels be stopped?