Two weeks into this football season — yes it’s a tiny sample size — we know Hamilton, Mountain Pointe, Desert Ridge and Chandler have risen to the Division I elite. We know Chaparral will remain elite despite last week’s thumping by Marcos de Niza (whom we didn’t quite know if the Padres would remain elite, but they’re 2-0). We know Queen Creek, Williams Field, Saguaro and Seton Catholic are all really good.
•We suspected but didn’t really believe Division II, Section VI (Campo Verde, Marcos de Niza, Mesquite, Poston Butte and Westwood) would be a combined 11-1 through Week 2, and that loss was Mesquite falling to a good Williams Field team). Marcos’ win over Chaparral takes the cake, but Campo Verde has been the most impressive overall.
•We didn’t know Horizon was going to average 50 points per game, including 53 on the same Marcos de Niza team that just beat Chaparral. The Huskies are 1-1, but coach Kris Heavner’s new start has been good thus far.
•We also didn’t know how some of the other changes in the football landscape would affect the non-elite. We still don’t, really, but after a couple weeks a few schools have caught our attention.
•We wondered how some of the Mesa and Gilbert schools would fare to begin this new two-year scheduling block. That jury is definitely out. But Westwood is 2-0 for the first time since 2007, and has already surpassed the 2012 (one) and 2011 (one) seasons’ win totals. The Warriors have been here before (3-1 to begin the 2010 season including a near-win over Red Mountain), but then top competition arrived and the Warriors couldn’t stay. They lost to Perry, Marcos de Niza, Mountain Pointe, Gilbert and Desert Ridge (with wins vs. Casa Grande and Skyline in the middle), squeaked out a playoff spot despite the mediocre record because of the competition, and were sacrificial lambs for Hamilton in the first round.
This time, however, the Warriors are (wisely) in Division II. The tough competition is coming (Marcos, Campo Verde, Mesquite, Poston Butte), so let’s see how Spencer Stowers’ group handles the challenge (win or lose).
Similar to Westwood, look at Skyline, which is also 2-0. The Coyotes began last year 3-1, but in similar circumstance to Westwood competition-wise. A similarly competitive schedule will unfold here as well (though less extreme than the past couple years), so let’s see if Skyline is able to better handle the road ahead.
Angelo Paffumi’s team might not be ready to compete with Desert Ridge, Red Mountain, even Mountain View just yet — even though they’ll have to in September and October — but, similar to Westwood, it’s about taking steps, keeping kids and building today for tomorrow.
•Speaking of which, is that Apache Junction and Combs both at 2-0? The same AJ team which went 1-9 each of the past two seasons? Yes, and the Prospectors have a solid chance of being 3-0 after playing Alhambra this week. They better be with Saguaro, Williams Field, Higley and Queen Creek coming. It’s a fair argument that the current state of AJ’s re-construction means it has no business playing those schools, and it probably shouldn’t.
Combs is in its fourth year of existence and third year of varsity competition, and also on its third coach in three years (Jesse Hart). The Coyotes were 1-9 last year and 0-10 in 2011.
As we’ll find out one way or another with nearly every team during the next eight weeks, these schedules could in-part wind up being fool’s gold, whether it’s discovered through the “freedom” or section games; the schedules could be a less-than-authentic indicator of how good/bad a team is.
But for several of these programs, so what?
Mark Heller is the East Valley Tribune sports editor. He can be reached at email@example.com or (480) 898-6576.