Scottsdale Chaparral football coach Charlie Ragle is desperately trying not to look ahead, but he knows full well what’s on the horizon.
If the fourth-seeded Firebirds and Scottsdale Saguaro both win tonight, it will set up a much-anticipated sequel between the city rivals in the 4A-I semifinals.
Saguaro beat Chaparral 31-28 earlier this season, the only close game the top-ranked Sabercats have had.
But first things first. Saguaro must beat No. 8 Paradise Valley, and Chaparral travels to Goodyear to play Millennium, a team with just two losses.
“We haven’t even talked about (Saguaro with the players),” Ragle said.
Ragle was lamenting on Monday how long the week seems to take at this time of year. If his team wins tonight, the layoff will be twice as long because of the Thanksgiving holiday, when the playoffs are put on hold.
“At least we’ll be playing still,” he said.
Queen Creek will be without tight end/defensive end T.J. Johnson for tonight’s 4A-II quarterfinal game against Scottsdale Notre Dame. Johnson injured his wrist last week in a victory over Tucson Palo Verde.
The senior has two catches on the year for 54 yards and a touchdown and also has recorded 18 tackles, including two sacks. Should Queen Creek advance, there’s a chance Johnson could return for the semifinals in two weeks.
HELPFUL IN A PINCH
Chandler Basha turned to sophomore quarterback Michael Benjamin when starter Troy Graham was lost for the season with a knee injury two weeks ago.
After throwing an interception on his first varsity pass, Benjamin has completed 17 of 26 passes for 220 yards one interception and one touchdown in six quarters of action. The pick was a Hail Mary on the last play of the first half against Mesa Dobson last week. Benjamin’s outings have come in the Central Region title game against Tempe Corona del Sol and the first round of the 5A Division I playoffs.
“He’s done a nice job,” Basha coach Tim McBurney said. “We haven’t thrown a whole lot at him, and I don’t think we will. He’s done more than we could have hoped for.”
TEMPE DUO IN THE SEMIS?
The Tempe Union High School District has been a multiple-school district for more than 40 years. Never in that span have two of its teams advanced to the same football semifinals.
That could change this evening if Phoenix Desert Vista tops Mesa Mountain View and Tempe Corona del Sol beats Phoenix Brophy in the 5A-I quarterfinals.
MORE FALL SIGNEES
Gilbert Highland senior guard Stephanie Beeman signed a letter of intent Thursday to play basketball at Fort Lewis (Colo.) College.
Phoenix Desert Vista basketball player Alexis Gannis will sign with the University of Portland. She averaged 15 points a game last season.
Three Scottsdale Notre Dame volleyball players signed letters of intent: Sarah Svorinic signed with Duquesne; Rebecca Slegers with Lehigh; and Chelsey Thompson with Providence.
Scottsdale Desert Mountain’s Ashley McKenney will play golf at Tulane, and Wolves swimmer Sam Weinstein committed to Boston University.
Scottsdale Chaparral also had a number of signings. Softball player Tessa Braga signed with Villanova; volleyball player Cat Highmark signed with Long Beach State; golfer Troy Anderson signed with Denver; tennis player Drake Kakar signed with Marquette; and baseball players Dan Coloumbe, Royce Bolinger, Ernesto Ortiz and Chase Brewer signed with USC, Gonzaga, Gonzaga and UCLA, respectively.
CHARTER LEAGUE CHAMPIONSHIP
Chandler El Dorado (8-1) will play for the Charter League football championship against the NFL Academy Saturday at Glendale Apollo at 6 p.m.
Tribune writers Les Willsey, Matt Paulson and Mark Heller contributed to this story