No. 5 Red Mountain at No. 1 Brophy
This will undoubtedly be one of the most entertaining games to watch on Friday night. Both teams have high-powered, pass-heavy offenses, so points could be scored in bunches. The Mountain Lions had trouble slowing down Westview in the first half of their season opener, but stalled the Knights after intermission and shut out Mesquite last week. If Red Mountain’s defense is legitimate, there could be an “upset” in the making. Brophy is more of a known quantity and won’t be fazed by any of the hoopla. The Broncos’ running game and more stout defense should give it the edge.
Prediction: Brophy 42, Red Mountain 31
No. 3 Mountain Pointe at No. 2 Desert Vista
These teams handed Hamilton back-to-back losses, so there is no question about their legitimacy atop the current rankings. The Pride has a very impressive defense and a close-knit group which is ready to make up for last year’s subpar season. Desert Vista won the state title last season and has looked very impressive early on, and a repeat is certainly on the table. The Thunder won last year’s contest and has more playmakers on offense, which could prove to be the difference.
Prediction: Desert Vista 27, Mountain Pointe 17
— Kyle Odegard
No. 4 Queen Creek (Div. III) at No. 6 Perry (Div. II)
Forget the divisional differentiation, these teams are on the same level. Both are 2-0 and neither has been significantly tested through the first two weeks, so this will be a first “reality” check for both teams. Both rely on the running game and defense. The question is whether each team can run and, when needed, pass, something both teams have shown the ability to do thus far against weaker competition. Q.C. won in overtime last year in this matchup. Smarting a bit from last year’s overtime loss to Q.C. won’t win the game for Perry this year, but it might help.
Prediction: Perry 27, Queen Creek 24
— Mark Heller
Higley at Poston Butte
It’s two teams coming off narrow, disappointing losses last week (Higley to Campo Verde, Poston Butte to Tempe). Poston Butte relies on Dante Romero (139 yards per game) in the running game as Dustin French is out with injury, but turnovers and penalties were a major factor in last week’s loss. The Broncos ran for 456 yards against Higley in last year’s meeting, a 48-39 win for Poston Butte. This Higley offense is much different, a more ground-oriented attack, but despite allowing 313 rushing yards to the Knights last year, that plays into Poston Butte’s strength.
Prediction: Poston Butte 21, Higley 17
— Mark Heller
No. 3 Seton Catholic (Div. IV) at No. 4 Tempe Prep (Div. V) (at Arizona Lutheran Academy)
Is anybody going to give the Sentinels a game during the regular season? Seton Catholic has been rolling its opponents, but Tempe Prep is no pushover. The Knights harrassed Sentinels quarterback Ryan Bresnahan last season and held Seton to 21 points. Tempe Prep has looked very good in its first two games and should be a factor in Division V, but it’s tough to slow down the Seton Catholic machine.
Prediction: Seton Catholic 35, Tempe Prep 13
-- Kyle Odegard