No. 1 Chaparral vs. No. 5 Centennial
When: 7 p.m. Friday
Where: North Canyon High School (1700 E. Union Hills Dr., Phoenix)
Records: Chaparral 12-1; Centennial 11-1
Last meeting: Chaparral 32, Centennial 17 (5A Division II state championship game in 2010)
Key players: Chaparral: QB Connor Brewer (2,656 yards, 40 TD, 5 INT); WR/DB Davonte Neal (1,015 yards rushing, 14 TD, 972 yards receiving, 13 TD, 5 returns for TD); RB Lucas Petrullo (217 yards, 4 TD); RB Zach Skeen (654 yards, 4 TD); WR Jake Roh (754 yards, 15 TD); WR Zach Buzzard (478 yards, 6 TD); LB Cody Ippolito (81 tackles, 2 sacks); DL Dylan Cozens (35 tackles, 6 sacks; DL Jarvis Lewis; K Dylan Audsley (40.4 punt average; 70 touchbacks)
Centennial: QB Justin Sanchez (1,831 yards, 16 TD, 5 INT); RB Jalen Ortiz (1,106 yards, 14 TD, 255 yards rec., 5 TD); RB/DB Zach Hoffpauir (436 yards rushing, 11 TD, 39 tackles, 4 INT); WR Hayden Sovacki (512 yards, 5 TD); DL Marcus Farria (43 tackles, 8 1/2 sacks); LB Walter Nunley (32 tackles, 5 1/2 sacks); LB Brennan Franklin (58 tackles).
Outlook: These two schools combined to win the previous five state championships in 5A Division II, and, though one week early, this is a rematch of last year's title game (won by Chaparral). Many of the major players are back on both teams. The Firebirds have gradually gotten healthier and more confident defensively since being hammered by Las Vegas Bishop Gorman in the Barry Sollenberger Classic. The Firebirds have a record-setting quarterback in Connor Brewer and an all-around standout in Davonte Neal on offense, defense and especially the return game on special teams. Centennial has its usual boatload of athletes (Zach Hoffpauir and Jalen Ortiz in particular), and while the Firebirds were dominant along both the offensive and defensive lines last year, the Coyotes' D-line has the ability to put loads of pressure on Chaparral's offense this time around. That could spell trouble for Chaparral if it can't protect Brewer or run the ball as Chaparral has done so well the past month. Whomever wins this game should be favored in the state championship game next weekend at Sun Devil Stadium.