VX Predictions: Week 1 - East Valley Tribune: VarsityXtra

VX Predictions: Week 1

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Posted: Thursday, August 25, 2011 6:30 pm

Notre Dame at Marcos de Niza

Marcos de Niza and Notre Dame may have had some sly smiles on their faces while watching Chaparral struggle against Las Vegas Bishop Gorman on Saturday. The Padres and Saints fancy themselves contenders in the newly formed Division II, and the Firebirds did look vulnerable, at least against one of the nation’s top teams. It’s time to put their attention on each other in the season opener, as the winner of this game joins Centennial as the top contender to Chaparral in the early going. Saints quarterback Jordan Gehrke is looking to have a big year, but this will be one of the best defenses he has ever seen, led by Padres linebacker Adam Pavlenko. Marcos de Niza lost many of its playmakers last year, and this should help show which players are ready to step in and make an impact.

Prediction: Marcos de Niza 27, Notre Dame 17

-- Kyle Odegard

Mountain Pointe at Hamilton

Hamilton is the preseason No. 1 and has won 40 consecutive games, but has to replace every starter on offense except Kendyl Taylor, so there may be some bumps in the road early on. Mountain Pointe’s offensive and defensive lines are the team’s strengths, but the Pride will have a new quarterback after the unexpected transfer of Kyle Faunce. This is a good time for Mountain Pointe to play Hamilton, but scoring against the Huskies’ defense will be a chore. If the Pride can get some big plays from the defense or special teams it has a chance to pull the upset, but don’t count on it.

Prediction: Hamilton 28, Mountain Pointe 13

-- Kyle Odegard

Corona del Sol at Basha

Besides new Corona coach Tom Joseph’s debut, the other interesting sidenote having nothing to do with the actual game is that Joseph and Basha coach Bernie Busken have the (former) Mountain View connection. As for the game itself, Basha begins 2011 excited about its team speed and with guys such as QB Kyle Durant and skill kids such as Nate Phillips. The Aztecs’ strength is in the trenches, and with Joseph you can expect a more disciplined, fundamentally sound bunch. Basha has questions on defense given a large turnover from 2010, but the Aztecs have as big (or bigger) questions about its offense, especially the passing game. Defense is usually ahead of offense in the early going, and that could make things a struggle for Corona to begin with.

Prediction: Basha 21, Corona del Sol 10

-- Mark Heller

Mesa at Desert Vista

Mesa coach Kelley Moore wouldn’t gripe about the Jackrabbits having to start the season against a team that has already played a game (D.V. beat Phoenix Maryvale 63-0 last Friday), and while the Thunder will get a much bigger test against a Mesa team with some skill kids and lots of size up front, that first game already under the belt makes a difference. It’s already been an emotional time for Mesa, which lost a longtime friend and follower in Alan Wilkins, so there’s some emotional element on Mesa’s side. The Jackrabbits should rebound from last year’s misery, but D.V. has too much speed and an edge in the passing game with Hunter Rodriguez in the early going. In time, Mesa will be fine, but it’s going to take a couple weeks.

Prediction: Desert Vista 21, Mesa 13

-- Mark Heller

Red Mountain at Westview

Ron Wisniewski’s bunch promises to have better athleticism and size in Year No. 2 at Red Mountain, and the Lions will need it on defense against the heavy favorites to win Division I, Section III. That’s because junior running back Seivion Morris (1,414 yards, 18 touchdowns) and Shayne Miller (678 yards, 12 TD) will return in the backfield for Jeff Bowen’s group. The Lions will need a big defensive effort stopping Westview’s ground game while new linemen and QB Mason Thorman grow accustomed to varsity competition. The hunch here is the Lions will find a way to hang on late in this good opening-day road test.

Prediction: Red Mountain 24, Westview 21

-- Mark Heller

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[Stats Courtesy of MaxPreps]