No. 9 Westview at No. 8 Chandler
This game figures to be a significant contrast of styles. Avondale Westview's bread-and-butter is running the ball and using a couple guys out of the backfield to create decpetion and misdirection. similar to Mountain Pointe and, to a degree, Hamilton. Chandler has the athleticism and weapons in the passing game (not to mention Paul Perkins at running back) and up front defensively, but discipline and mistakes have proven costly in the playoffs in recent years. Westview played Brophy to the end and had as much success bottling up the Broncos offense as anyone, and Westview's secondary is a strength it'll need against Javon Williams and Lloyd Mills. But Chandler's offense puts such a strain on opposing defenses, and Westview can't afford to fall behind by more than 10 points. This will be a game for sure.
Prediction: Chandler 24, Westview 17
- Mark Heller
No. 15 Mountain Pointe at No. 2 Brophy
These teams faced off in the regular season, with the Broncos jumping out to a 31-7 halftime lead and cruising to the win. The Pride has since won four straight, although against light competition. Mountain Pointe's defense is healthier than in that first meeting, and a good performance is essential against Brophy quarterback Tyler Bruggman (118-of-195 for 2,027 yards, 33 TD, 1 INT). Dillan Johnson ran for 212 yards against the Broncos the first time around, and he will need another big game if the Pride have plans of pulling the upset. Mountain Pointe is a dangerous double-digit seed and may have done some damage against a different top team, but Brophy is too tough.
Prediction: Brophy 28, Mountain Pointe 13
- Kyle Odegard
No. 9 Phoenix Thunderbird at No. 8 Williams Field
These teams met in last year's title game and Thunderbird came away with a 25-22 overtime victory. The Black Hawks had nearly 200 more yards of total offense in this game, and if those teams matched up again, I'd choose Williams Field. However, Williams Field won't have standouts like Tom Ross, J.D. Layton, Kenny Mitchell and Jordan Poland from a year ago, while Thunderbird has many of its key guys back, including the running back duo of Connor Hustead (1,235 yards, 20 TD) and Kani Benoit (1,189 yards, 15 TD). Williams Field has Alex Howard (1,701 yards, 27 TD) to carry the load and he may will his team to victory, but without sidekick Sean Schweichler (knee injury), the Chiefs can really key on stopping the Black Hawks' standout tailback. This game could be tight, but I like Thunderbird to knock off Williams Field again for a second straight postseason.
Prediction: Thunderbird 24, Williams Field 21
- Kyle Odegard
No. 15 Poston Butte at No. 2 Peoria Liberty
Upset-special time. Liberty is the No. 2 seed in Division III and is 9-1 on the year with wins over Peoria and Paradise Valley, but it does have some question marks. While the duo of quarterback Tyler Rogers and wide receiver Paul Panaccione is potent, Liberty has had trouble with inferior opponents, including one-point wins over Greenway and Desert Edge late in the year. Poston Butte has three losses on the year, but they were to Perry, Williams Field and Queen Creek. Liberty's defense is prone to giving up points, and if the Broncos can contain Rogers, they have a chance to advance to the quarterfinals.
Prediction: Poston Butte 28, Liberty 27
- Kyle Odegard
No. 9 Tempe Prep at No. 8 Scottsdale Christian
What a turnaround for Scottsdale Christian under first-year coach Willie Dudley. The Eagles started 0-3 and blown out of all three games against top competition, and are now on a seven-game winning streak. One of those wins was a 24-20 decision over Tempe Prep in late September. The Knights have won five consecutive since then as well, both with a couple quality wins in that mix. The Eagles shut down Tempe Prep's offense in the second, third and most of the fourth quarters, aided by a couple Tempe Prep turnovers. The obvious question is whether it can be done a second time on SCA's home Field Turf? That's a tough task, but with two of the hottest teams in Div. V, this should be similar to the other No. 8-9 matchups, which is to say, a dandy.
Prediction: Scottsdale Christian 21, Tempe Prep 17
- Mark Heller