A Division III football coach who saw Queen Creek and Desert Edge both in person and on film breaks down Saturday afternoon's state championship game at Sun Devil Stadium:
Queen Creek offense vs. Desert Edge defense
Desert Edge’s defense is not good enough to stop Queen Creek. Here’s what will slow down Matt Guida: He won’t get an 80-yard run because Desert Edge is fast enough to catch him. Run the football right at Desert Edge and then set up the passing game, and that’s Queen Creek football. Make Desert Edge's safeties come flying up and then hit them over the top. Williams Field had about 12 completions for about 220 yards, including a couple long balls. Queen Creek should run at them, don’t try and go around them. The play-action passing game hurts Desert Edge off the run game and the middle of the field tends to be open against Desert Edge's defense. Williams Field hit the slant routes and went the distance down the seam with one, and they also hit a couple outside passes deep off play-action.
Queen Creek defense vs. Desert Edge offense
That’s a little tougher challenge. The first thing you have to do is be sound in tackling. You want to eliminate the Desert Edge vertical passing game because they can score quick. They were up 17-0 on Williams Field, and then Williams Field made it 17-14, and then their next play Desert Edge ran a streak play. They want to catch up and score quickly. They want everything in big chunks. Eliminate the vertical passing game and tackle effectively in the running game, and you’ll have a good chance. Queen Creek plays a little softer in the defensive line and tries to muddle things in the middle. It's more of a read-style defense to hold the gaps, create a wall up front and let No. 71 (Drake Danielson) come off the edge to make tackles at defensive end. That helps slow down the running game a bit. Athletically, Queen Creek is going to give up something, so QC has to make a choice: Either give up the short and intermediate passing game, or gamble and give up a deep ball. Queen Creek breaks on the ball pretty well so they could have a safety over the top and then have them fly back to the ball.
Desert Edge offense vs. Queen Creek defense
Desert Edge is not a real physical style running game. Their running backs can be but are not playing a power-type set, they’re more of a zone blocking scheme. Desert Edge should try and get outside the tackles, let the RB and (QB Sawyer Lung) maneuver with the Queen Creek defensive ends. I’d attack the edges moreso than inside, from the edge of tackle box outward. Desert Edge will have to take their shots in the passing game deep, but you can’t rely on that against Queen Creek. I’d have two different game plans. One, if Queen Creek takes away the short game then we’ll go deep. If the play deep, we’ll go with short game and be patient because Desert Edge likes to force the issue and sometimes they get impatient when things aren't working and constantly go for the big play. Create space for Desert Edge's athletes with the short passing game, or if Queen Creek sits on that, use those athletes and go vertical.
Desert Edge defense vs. Queen Creek offense
I’d lock man-to-man in the passing game and commit to the run. If you have the athletes, pressure when they throw the ball and stop Guida first. If they beat you throwing the ball, so be it. Commit to the run because you have the athletes who can pass defend. It’s what Desert Edge might have to do to keep them in the game. Take where your slight advantage is. Bring pressure and commit to stopping the run. Queen Creek can throw the ball but make them beat you that way. You can’t be scared to blitz. Most teams don’t like to blitz on run downs. If you’re locked man-to-man with less guys in coverage you can blitz certain gaps as a fallback. Don’t let Queen Creek's fullback hit your linebackers 3-4 yards downfield, meet him at the line of scrimmage. Obviously you’re taking a gamble but if you just blitz with soft zone you’re in trouble. I think Desert Edge has to understand who they are as a team and try to play it so fast and put so much pressure with guys flying around. Why do what a majority of teams have tried against Queen Creek? What success has that led to? None. It’s not that Desert Edge's defense is that great of a defense, so to sit there not change a bit of what they do is stupid. Commit to the run and do it big-time because you might be athletic enough to commit to one-on-one coverage.