PHOENIX NORTH CANYON (2-0) at MOUNTAIN RIDGE (0-2)
KICKOFF: 7 tonight at 22800 N. 67th Ave., Glendale.
TV: Cox Channel 7.
West Valley Preps will cover this Thursday night special. And the game should be closer than the teams' records indicate.
North Canyon has started strong for new coach Conrad Hamilton, but its win came against Scottsdale Horizon and O'Connor. Mountain Ridge's losses came to Division I powerhouses Phoenix Brophy Brep and Chandler Basha.
After falling behind 31-0 to Basha, Mountain Ridge made a game of it, cutting the lead to 41-28 after two interception returns for touchdowns. The Bears won 55-28.
“We capitalized on some mistakes, but came up short in the end,” Mountain Ridge coach Bobby Green said.
PHOENIX PARADISE VALLEY (1-1) at No. 3 (DIII) LIBERTY (2-0)
KICKOFF: 7 p.m. Friday at 9621 W. Speckled Gecko Drive, Peoria.
Fresh off blowing out its first two opponents by a combined score of 113-6, the Lions welcome some increased competition this week.
“We look forward to the competition with Paradise Valley,” said coach Dan Filleman. “They’ve had a solid program for years and we expect nothing less.”
Paradise Valley has more of a pass-first approach this year thanks to junior quarterback Ryan Finley. In a blowout loss to Scottsdale Saguaro and a dominating victory over Flagstaff Coconino, Finley has thrown for 502 yards and six touchdowns with one interception.
Liberty is putting the ball up more this year, too, as junior Tyler Rogers looks comfortable in a starting role. He tossed four touchdowns against Dysart and another three against Glendale.
Top target Paul Panaccione has six touchdown catches so far, along with three punt returns for scores. The other standout has been Liberty’s defense, which has allowed its first two opponents less than 100 yards of offense combined — to go with six forced turnovers and 11 sacks.
“Our offseason work shows on defense. We’re fast and fly to the football,” Filleman said.
IRONWOOD (2-0) at No. 8 (DII) APOLLO (2-0)
KICKOFF: 7 p.m. Friday at 8045 N. 47th Ave., Glendale.
The Eagles managed to escape in a four-turnover performance against Phoenix St. Mary’s, winning 14-3.
Ironwood can’t afford a repeat against Apollo, which has handled the transition to Division II better than most of the other former 4A-I schools. The Hawks beat Peoria in week one, and crushed Phoenix South Mountain 56-0 last week.
Apollo will pick up more than two yards rushing — St. Mary’s total — with dual-threat quarterback Jon Brown presenting a severe challenge for the Eagles. Still, Ironwood coach Ian Curtis is impressed with his defense thus far.
“We have several third string players now starting and they have responded to the challenge,” Curtis said. “Defense has become our focus, and we’re getting the commitment. The players are following the football and that’s getting us in the right direction.”
Ironwood’s run-heavy triple option attack, if it moves the chains and controls the clock, can be the antidote to Brown’s abilities. Expect a heavy dose of junior Michael Alexander (123 yards on 18 carries in week two) with quarterback Kyle Zoellner (70 yards against St. Mary’s) and senior Matt Paparella (59 yards) chipping in.
AVONDALE LA JOYA (0-2) at No. 1 (DII) CENTENNIAL (2-0)
KICKOFF: 7 p.m. Friday at 14388 N. 79th Ave., Peoria
The Centennial roster lists 66 varsity players. All of them could see action this week.
La Joya has been shut out by both Laveen schools to start the season — 45-0 by Cesar Chavez and 66-0 by Betty Fairfax.
It won’t get much better for the Lobos this week against a Centennial squad that dismantled Goodyear Millennium 44-0 in game two. This came a week after Millennium defeated Fairfax 32-18.
No. 6 (DII) DEER VALLEY (2-0) at GOLDWATER (0-2)
KICKOFF: 7 p.m. Friday at 2820 W Rose Garden Lane, Phoenix.
Deer Valley has a golden chance to continue its fast start, playing a Goldwater team coming off a 48-7 loss to Scottsdale Horizon.
The Skyhawks controlled Prescott last week, winning 43-6 and not allowing the Badgers their lone touchdown until the fourth quarter. Senior tailback Trae Armstrong broke loose for 161 yards and a touchdown on 17 carries.
DYSART (0-2) at SUNRISE MOUNTAIN (2-0)
KICKOFF: 7 p.m. Friday at 21200 N. 83rd Ave., Peoria.
As with Deer Valley and Ironwood, it’s been a while since Sunrise Mountain started 2-0. And the opening two weeks give no suggestion the Mustangs won’t continue their roll here.
Sunrise jumped to a 38-0 lead at Verrado last week before allowing the Vipers two late touchdowns. Sophomore Elijah Castro was the catalyst, scoring on a rush, a reception and a punt return. Senior quarterback Max Shepherd continued to impress, passing for 212 yards and two touchdowns.
Dysart improved slightly in week two, but still struggled on defense in a 48-20 loss to Avondale Agua Fria. Senior tailback Elijah Manning showed his potential with 150 yards of total offense and two touchdowns.
PHOENIX SOUTH MOUNTAIN (0-2) at VALLEY VISTA (2-0)
KICKOFF: 7 p.m. Friday at 15550 N. Parkview Place, Surprise.
Valley Vista is coming off its biggest win ever, beating Willow Canyon for the first time.
Now the trick is to refocus and take care of business in an eminently winnable game to give the Monsoon their first 3-0 start.
"These kids are focused with the fortitude to go farther," Wilke said. "This is going to springboard us. I don't fear a letdown at all."
Valley Vista's defense has allowed 13 points so far and should continue that trend against a South Mountain offense with 14 points through two weeks.
WILLOW CANYON (0-2) at KELLIS (1-1)
KICKOFF: 7 p.m. Friday at 8990 W. Orangewood Road, Glendale.
The Wildcats must regroup from two punches to the gut to right their season.
Close losses to Deer Valley and Valley Vista leave Willow Canyon searching for answers. The defense has been solid, but the Wildcats' trademark ground game is less effective thus far than senior quarterback Taylor Nezdoba's arm.
Kellis remains a bit of an enigma after two games at this level. The Cougars dominated a poor Phoenix Trevor Browne team 68-8 last week, after being punished 52-7 by Division II No. 1 Centennial.
APACHE JUNCTION (0-2) at SHADOW RIDGE (1-1)
KICKOFF: 7 p.m. Friday at 10909 N. Perryville Road, Surprise
Riding high off their first varsity win as an AIA member, the news keeps getting better for the Stallions.
A game that seemed like one of Shadow Ridge's biggest challenges when their schedule was announced now looks more manageable.
Shadow Ridge beat Buckeye Youngker 22-14 on a 19-yard fourth-quarter touchdown run by senior quarterback Kevin Broich. Apache Junction is coming off a 43-6 loss to Division II Gilbert Perry.
But it's the Prospectors' opening 31-6 loss to Gilbert Campo Verde that can give the Stallions optimism. Campo Verde also sports its first senior class, and the Coyotes split two contests with Shadow Ridge last year.
SCOTTSDALE CHRISTIAN (0-2) at #1 (DV) NORTHWEST CHRISTIAN (2-0)
KICKOFF: 7 p.m. Friday 16401 N. 43rd Ave., Phoenix.
Traditionally a matchup between Valley private school powerhouses, this year's edition is likely to show the opposite paths both teams have traveled since Northwest Christian's season-ending 56-21 win last October.
The victory propelled the Crusaders to the 2010 state title in 2A. Northwest Christian enters Friday on a nine-game winning streak after pasting Sedona Red Rock 55-6.
Scottsdale Christian has a new coach in Will Dudley, and has given up 38 points in each of its losses.
JOY CHRISTIAN (2-0) at AJO (0-2)
KICKOFF: 7 p.m. Friday at 111 Well Road, Ajo.
Coach Brian Cole has taken to eight-man football just fine. The young program scored a big win last week, beating always-solid Mayer 36-14 on their home turf.
Sophomore quarterback Nick Henderson tossed four touchdowns for the Eagles, bringing his season total to eight. Junior tailback Jerardo Samarripas added a rushing and receiving touchdown.