It’ll be like playing in front of a mirror.
Two spitting images of one another meet in the Southeast Valley on Friday. Campo Verde and Higley have similar styles of play, similar game films, played each other last year, are within five miles of each other and still have much to learn about themselves even after Week 1 victories.
There’s even longtime coaching familiarity with one another. Campo Verde coach Max Ragsdale was a graduate assistant at Arizona State when Higley coach Eddy Zubey was a linebacker at ASU. Ragsdale also coached at Mesquite when Zubey coached Westwood.
So, uh, no surprises here.
“Running the scout team offense is very easy this week,” Zubey said ”Different formations with the same basic plays.”
Basically, this game could come down to pure execution, because both teams are run-happy, a stark contrast to last year’s 44-20 victory by Higley when a then-healthy Eric Kump threw for 212 yards and three touchdowns.
That’s not likely to happen again by either team, so both teams anticipate a line-up-and-go ground game.
It worked well for both schools in week one, as Higley romped over Phoenix Carl Hayden last week and Campo Verde did much the same against Apache Junction.
Still, those respective opponents have struggled mightily in recent years.
Campo Verde believes defense is its strength, so whether the Coyotes can stop Thomas Bush, Tristan DaCosta (who’s questionable with a back injury) and Mythias Young or not will offer more of a clue as to what goes on the “to do” list.
“You have to be smart and don’t let them lull you to sleep running the same play 5-6 times, and then ‘Boom,’ they run something else,” Ragsdale said. “Play good gap-control defense which is something we’re pretty decent at.”
Likewise, if Higley can contain Devonte Spears, Lorenzo Sanchez and Luke Pineda, the Knights will more accurately know where they stand (or not) in Division III against a 2011 playoff team that ran for 258 yards against A.J., but struggled at times with penalties and what Ragsdale called a “wide-eyed” season opener on offense.
“They’re a lot more physical and bigger, I think we’ve got speed,” Zubey said. “We’re going to have to win line of scrimmage.”
Line up and push. See how easy football can be when it comes to playing a carbon copy of one’s self?
“I think we’ll know what kind of team we are after these two weeks (vs. Higley and Williams Field),” Ragsdale said. “I’d say by Week 3 we’ll know what we’re made of and the improvements that need to be made.”
Mark Heller is the East Valley Tribune sports editor. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (480) 898-6576.