A look at the 16 teams in the Varsity Xtra Dream Team tournament pitting some of the best East Valley football teams in the last 30 years against each other:
Coach: Scooter Molander
Top players: Quarterback Bryan Berens (2,415 yards passing and 29 touchdowns, completing 61 percent of his passes); running back Ray Polk (1,186 yards rushing and 12 TDs); wide receiver Sean Lieb (56 receptions for 847 yards and 16 TDs); linebacker Matt Padilla; safety Drew Maggi; and lineman Mike Tree.
Championship game: Brophy 34, Desert Vista 21
Season recap: Brophy capped its season with eight straight victories. Its lone losses were to Chandler schools Hamilton and Basha. The Broncos avenged their regular-season loss to Hamilton in the 5A-I semifinals. In the title game, Berens passed for 177 yards and three TDs. Lieb caught eight passes for 119 yards and four TDs, hauling in an additional scoring catch from Maggi. Defensive line, which was beat up early through midseason, got healthy for the stretch run and was staunch.
Coach: Ron Estabrook
Top players: Running back Josh Griffin (1,811 yards rushing and 32 touchdowns); running backs Dustin Ireland and Bryan Schlueter (a combined 1,400 yards rushing and 14 TDs); linebacker Austin Sendlein; and linemen Brad Reisner and Nick Iarrobino. Griffin, Sendlein and kicker Scott Lane earned the most accolades for the season.
Championship game: Chaparral 27, Tucson Sahuaro 10
Season recap: The closest anyone came to defeating the Firebirds was Phoenix Thunderbird in the first round of the playoffs, an eventual 13-3 victory. Griffin lived up to his reputation as a big-play back, bolting 87 yards for one of Chaparral's TDs in the win over Sahuaro. The title was the first in school history, with two more coming the next decade. Chaparral outscored its opponents, 539-126. The Firebirds rushed for 4,091 yards as a team.
1998 DESERT VISTA
Coach: Jim Rattay
Top players: Quarterback John Rattay (3,094 yards passing and 36 touchdowns); running back/receiver/returner/defensive back Bobby Wade who was the state's player of the year with 3,000 total yards and 41 TDs; wide receiver Josh Gill and tight end Elton Johnson (who combined to account for 60 percent of Rattay's passing yardage).
Championship game: Desert Vista 38, Brophy 31
Season recap: Thunder had a few close calls in going undefeated. Their road to the title during the postseason was thrilling to say the least. Fourth-quarter rallies got them past Paradise Valley, 24-20, in the first round and 20-16 over Kingman in the semifinals. The quarterfinal battle vs. Horizon (43-33 win) wasn't easy. Wade scored three TDs in the title game, including the game-winner, picked off two passes and blocked a field goal. His all-purpose yardage against Brophy totaled 383 yards. Wade went on to play at the University of Arizona and has played in the NFL with Chicago, Tennessee and Minnesota.
Coach: Mike Clark
Top players: Running backs Josh Arnold (1,326 yards rushing and 15 touchdowns) and T.C. Wright (team-high 21 TDs rushing, receiving and on returns); linebacker Brian O'Rourke, who led team in tackles; and kicker-punter Steve Rausch.
Championship game: Dobson 35, Mountain View 14
Season recap: Wading through the local competition of Mountain View, Mesa and Westwood is never easy, but the Mustangs were able to accomplish it that season. Despite losing in the regular season to Mountain View and Mesa, Dobson made the playoffs at 8-2. They were a postseason buzz saw, ripping Tucson Santa Rita, 66-11, Phoenix Moon Valley 31-10 and Phoenix Brophy, 37-12. Wright, Arnold and fullback Greg Boland combined for 272 rushing yards in the title game win over Mountain View that avenged the early-season loss. Dobson rushed for 4,004 yards during the season and had a school record (at the time) with 11 TD passes from quarterback Derrick Zellner.
Coach: John Wrenn
Top players: Running back Tramell McGill (1,551 yards rushing and 21 touchdowns); quarterback Travis Dixon (1,893 yards passing and 22 TDs); defensive lineman David Smith; and linebackers Adam Vincent and Mark Gruner.
Championship game: Hamilton 35, Mountain View 28 (triple overtime)
Season recap: Other than the season opener when Hamilton surrendered two first-quarter touchdowns in a 15-0 loss to Mountain View, the Huskies were awesome. They plowed through the rest of the schedule (Gilbert was the only team that gave them a game the rest of the year). In the postseason, they drilled Corona del Sol, Salpointe and Gilbert before getting another crack at Mountain View for the title. After spotting the Toros two first-quarter touchdowns, Hamilton battled back to tie the game at 14 at halftime. It remained that way at the end of regulation with a key sack by Smith of Mountain View quarterback Max Hall thwarting a potential winning field goal attempt in regulation. McGill scored his second TD of overtime to cap a 118-yard day and a fourth-down stop of running back Marc LeBaron by Hamilton's Daniel Hill and Myrio Davis gave the Huskies the first of what are now four state titles.
Coach: Steve Belles
Top players: Quarterback Brad Gruner (2,593 yards passing and 27 touchdowns); running back Covaughn Deboskie (1,224 yards rushing and 19 TDs); wide receiver Kerry Taylor (83 receptions for 1,121 yards and seven TDs); lineman Chris Schaan; linebacker Zach Moore; and safety Glenn Love.
Championship game: Hamilton 34, Mountain View 15
Season recap: Hamilton's only loss of the season came out of state to Massillon, Ohio. On the heels of having Brophy derail its bid for a third straight 5A title the year before, the Huskies used speed, the run, the pass and a lightning fast defense to easily subdue even the best of opponents. The Huskies recorded 78 sacks and intercepted 26 passes, 10 by Love. Hamilton won its four postseason games by an average of 26 points (Mountain View was the closest game). In the state title game vs. the Toros, the Huskies scored the first 17 points and never looked back. Deboskie had 217 yards rushing and receiving and three TDs. And Gruner, who made his senior year a superb one after missing virtually all of 2005 with a major knee injury, passed for 209 yards in the championship game. It all added up to state title No. 3 for Hamilton, and the first in the first year for coach Steve Belles.
Coach: Karl Kiefer
Top players: Running back Brian Drew (1,668 yards rushing and 38 touchdowns); quarterback Dan Moore (1,899 yards passing and 19 TDs); defensive end/offensive lineman Grady Stretz (eight sacks); and defensive backs Chris Colter and David Matthews (seven interceptions).
Championship game: McClintock 42, Westwood 14
Season recap: This McClintock team rebounded from the worst season in school history the year before (2-8), one punctuated by an inordinate amount of injuries. The Chargers suffered a pair of one-point losses -- Week 3 to 4A co-champ Tempe High (25-24) and the final regular-season game to Mesa High (28-27). During the regular season, the Chargers topped Westwood, 34-21, but in the title game they had hit their stride. Drew rushed for 215 yards and three TDs in the championship game and also intercepted two passes. McClintock set a school record with 5,444 yards of offense for the season.
1992 MESA HIGH
Coach: Jim Rattay
Top players: Quarterback Mikel Moreno (939 yards and 10 touchdowns rushing, and another 1,145 yards and 11 TDs passing); running back Robert Holcombe (1,438 yards rushing and 13 TDs); linebacker-center Steve McKane
Championship game: Mesa 14, Mountain View 8
Season recap: The 13 wins Mesa posted in 1992 remain the most ever in school history for a season. The only loss came to McClintock, 19-7 in early October. When the postseason arrived, the Jackrabbits had to play without coach Jim Rattay, who was hospitalized with a sinus fungus that eventually led to the loss of his right eye. Defensive coordinator Bill McKane took over the reins during the playoffs and the Jackrabbits swept through the postseason before their coach finally was able to make an appearance and watch from the press box high above Sun Devil Stadium. The oldest of Jim Rattay's three sons, Christ, ended up scoring one of Mesa's touchdowns that helped stake them to a 14-0 lead. Mountain View tried to rally in the final period, scoring once. Moreno, who also played in the secondary, came up with a key interception in the fourth period to snuff out one Mountain View threat. Another interception with four seconds left ended Mountain View's final desperation attempt. A brawl briefly ensued at the end of the game as fans spilled onto the field. That caused the following year's regular-season game to be cancelled. The championship was Mesa's second under Rattay, and also the last the school has won.
1993 MOUNTAIN VIEW
Coach: Jesse Parker
Top players: Quarterback Joe Germaine (2,082 yards passing and 23 TDs); receiver Scott Woffinden (51 receptions for 862 yards and 13 TDs); fullback Josh Lowe; and linebacker Seth Darst.
Championship game: Mountain View 38, Phoenix South Mountain 7
Season recap: The Toros suffered their only loss on opening night, dropping a 17-6 decision to Scottsdale Horizon. Not the way coach Jesse Parker wanted to start the season after the bitter state-title game loss to Mesa the year before. But the team righted itself the rest of the way, reeling off 13 straight wins, including a pair of tight ones against Phoenix Mountain Pointe and Mesa Red Mountain by five and four points, respectively. When the playoffs arrived, the Toros were focused and fired up. They outscored their four playoff opponents, 143-21. The game of the season was the semifinal matchup with Mesa High, which took on a life of its own beyond being an important postseason game. The teams cancelled their regular-season game that year due to the brawl that ensued at the conclusion of the championship game the year before. Mountain View prevailed, 20-6, with Germaine getting revenge on his prep adversary and Mesa quarterback Mikel Moreno. Fans who didn't get to the game by 6 p.m. either were part of the standing room only crowd at Westwood High or had to watch from outside the fence if possible.
1997 MOUNTAIN VIEW
Coach: Bernie Busken
Top players: Quarterback Tate Gunning (2,012 yards passing and 23 touchdowns); running back Brad Malone (840 yards rushing and five TDs); tight end Todd Heap (45 receptions for 754 yards and 15 TDs); offensive lineman Damien Niko.
Championship game: Mountain View 28, Tucson Amphitheater 24
Season recap: Mountain View was challenged to not only repeat as state champ but do so unbeaten back-to-back. One game with Gilbert Highland midway through the year was the only one close to a loss (the Toros prevailed, 7-0). In the playoffs, Desert Vista, Brophy and McClintock were no match. In the finals awaited Amphi, a team the Toros owned throughout their history (6-0) although all of the previous matchups pitted Jesse Parker against Amphi's Vern Friedli, currently the winningest coaches in Arizona history. This year, it was coach Bernie Busken's shot at Friedli and the Panthers. The Toros were heavily favored, but Amphi built a 24-20 lead and had the ball with a fourth-and-one in its own territory. Amphi elected to go for the first down, knowing it could then run out the clock. The Toros stuffed a running play, got a short field and scored in the final minute for the win. In the title game, Heap caught a touchdown pass, threw a touchdown pass and hauled in a two-point conversion.
2002 MOUNTAIN VIEW
Coach: Tom Joseph
Top players: Quarterback Max Hall (2,384 yards passing and 25 touchdowns), running back Shane Parra (1,058 yards rushing and 27 TDs); receiver Cody Malone (39 receptions for 702 yards and five TDs); linebacker Bryce Hardy.
Championship game: Mountain View 50, Glendale Ironwood 8
Season recap: This Toros squad performed flawlessly in coach Tom Joseph's first year. They scored 602 points and piled up 5,470 yards (2,949 rushing and 2,530 passing). The defense, typically disciplined, allowed just 34 points for the year and posted eight shutouts. The Toros gave up 21 of the 34 points in the playoffs. The only close call came late in the regular season against Westwood, an 8-0 win. Receivers like Malone and Brendan McGowan gave Hall plenty of possibilities. The hard-hitting secondary of Robert Dahlk, Spencer Perkinson and George Willis produced 24 interceptions.
2000 RED MOUNTAIN
Coach: Jim Jones
Top players: Running back/linebacker Steve Walker (1,510 yards rushing and 21 touchdowns); receiver Matt Miller (23 receptions for 378 yards and 2 TDs, plus two more TDs on punt and kickoff returns).
Championship game: Red Mountain 20, Westwood 10
Season recap: There were a couple of blips on the screen -- a loss early in the year to Phoenix Maryvale and one to finish the regular season against Mesa High -- that cost the Mountain Lions the region title. But they beat Brown Road rival Mountain View for the first time, then did it again in the first round of the playoffs, and that was a good season. Jones, the only coach in the school's history since it opened in 1989, saw his squad dump the Toros, Brophy and Gilbert High to reach the finals. That brought Red Mountain to the final against Westwood, the school where Jones got his coaching start in Mesa under his mentor Jerry Loper. The Mountain Lions used a strong second half to outlast the Warriors and win what would be the first of back-to-back 5A crowns.
Coach: John Sanders
Top players: Quarterback Cole Rarrick (1,557 yards passing and 17 touchdowns); running back Beau Burton (2,417 yards rushing and 30 TDs); receiver Paul Porras (32 receptions for 629 yards and 8 TDs); Corey Adams; Ben Bisgard; and Justin Jungblut.
Championship game: Saguaro 38, Chaparral 0
Season recap: The decade of 2000 brought the Sabercats into prominence and the 2008 squad put up some dominating numbers while continuing what is currently a 34-game winning streak with three successive 4A-I titles. Most of their games in 2008 were laughers, but really good teams find a way to win tough ones. The Sabercats had two -- a regular-season escape vs. Paradise Valley and a semifinal Houdini act against Peoria. Rarrick's 80-yard TD pass to Porras in the final five minutes of the game snared a 23-19 win over Paradise Valley. The defense came up big in subduing Peoria as Jungblut recovered a fumble in the end zone for the game-winning score. The Sabercats got two other turnovers to snuff out Peoria threats in the final period. In the title game, life was easy. Saguaro had a terrific day running the ball, aided by a 199-yard career day from Erik Brown and the usual 100-plus day from Burton. Both scored a pair of touchdowns as the Sabercats rushed for 346 yards. For the season, Saguaro scored 508 points and allowed just 107. The defense posted five shutouts and the Sabercats beat Chaparral twice, both via shutout.
1995 ST. MARY'S
Coach: Pat Farell
Top players: Quarterback Ryan Kealy (2,682 yards passing and 41 touchdowns); receiver Tariq McDonald (75 receptions for 1,192 yards and 20 TDs); kicker Jim Sanson (150 points, including 11 TDs -- seven via pass and four via rush).
Championship game: St. Mary's 33, Horizon 7
Season recap: This team was as complete as any St. Mary's team, and the best Farrell ever coached at the school. The Knights were loaded on offense and defense and had an outstanding kicking game. St. Mary's posted six shutouts, outscored opponents 550-75 and had arguably the best passing quarterback in state history. Kealy completed 67 percent of his passes in his career, which still ranks him nationally. In 1995 he was intercepted just three times. The Knights piled up 5,340 yards of offense. St. Mary's had one close game. -- in the state quarterfinals against Westwood. St. Mary's was clinging to a 19-13 lead with a few minutes left and made a stop on the Warriors inside the St. Mary's 10. The Knights, their forte the passing game, managed to gain three first downs running the ball to run out the clock and preserve the victory. In the title game, Kealy closed out his career tossing four TD passes (two to McDonald) and the Knights avenged a heart-breaking loss from the year before to Horizon.
1996 TEMPE HIGH
Coach: Tim McBurney
Top players: Quarterback Todd Mortensen (2,447 yards passing and 32 touchdowns); receiver Justin Taplin (75 catches for 1,298 yards and 16 TDs); running back James Shaw (1,348 yards rushing); defensive tackle Michael Tooa (led the team in defensive points and sacks); linebacker Mike Washington; and safety Dave Bohn.
Championship game: Tempe 20, Ironwood 17 (overtime)
Season recap: The Buffaloes were overpowering at times, and definitely clutch when it mattered. They won four games in the regular season by a touchdown or less. In the postseason, three of their four wins came by a touchdown or less (quarterfinals through title game). The 14 wins remain the most in school history. Their total offense of 4,904 yards is also a school record. Mortensen owns many school passing records, including a couple formerly held by his father, Fred. Taplin also rewrote the receiving record book in many categories, helped by being a four-year starter. It seemed only fitting that Mortensen and Taplin starred in their varsity finale. Mortensen threw three TD passes in the game, including the game-winner in overtime to Taplin.
Coach: Jerry Loper
Top players: Running back Larry Davila (1,031 yards rushing); running back/defensive end Chris Gump (608 yards rushing and 14 sacks); fullback Zane Dickey (499 yards rushing); quarterback Ruben Sanchez (1,454 yards passing and 10 TDs
Championship game: Westwood 28, Mountain View 7
Season recap: This team played small ball with a squad that wasn't massive in size, but had quickness everywhere. Their starting defensive ends were Gump (5-foot-9, 170 pounds) and Dickey (5-7, 160), and their linebackers weren't much bigger. Gump was named the East Valley player of the year. In the title game, they ran the option to perfection to break open a tight game and rout Mountain View for the second time that season. Sanchez (5-7, 150) scored twice in the championship game and Gump and Dickey once each. Their only loss of the season came in the third week when then-defending champ Dobson edged them, 7-6. They dethroned the Mustangs in the semifinals by a 35-0 count.