Will Pumas get de-clawed by Firebirds? Perry’s 4-0 start to 2010 received further oomph with a 48-0 whipping of Westwood last week in which Cedric Simmons ran for 150 yards and QB Josh Uhlorn had three TD passes. To that end, the Pumas moved a step ahead of last year when things began to unravel a bit in the second half of the season. Problem is, now they face the defending 5A Division II champs in Chaparral who could be the best team in the state. It’ll take a perfect game and then some to knock off the Firebirds. And that game is followed by 5A-II runner-up Marcos de Niza next week, then Mountain Pointe two weeks later. A loss here should hardly damage Perry’s psyche or chance for a home game in the playoffs; it’s the mental games that begin when bumps in the road arrive.
New pad: Seton will unveil its new on-campus football stadium against Williams Field on Friday. Previously, the Sentinels played their home games at Mesa Community College. It could be a rude homecoming, as Williams Field is ranked second in 4A-II and hasn’t lost this season. Seton began the year with three straight victories, but has since dropped two in a row. An upset win here would be a huge boost in the team’s playoff chances.
On a roll: Apache Junction was without coach Rich Milligan last week following a suspension for being ejected two weeks ago, but the Prospectors didn’t miss a beat. They outplayed 4A-II No. 2 Mingus from start to finish in a 34-7 victory. Apache Junction was expected to be in somewhat of a rebuilding year, but its 4-1 start can be really legitimized with a victory against Phoenix Greenway on Friday. The Demons are 3-1 on the year. Roy Machuca and Harrison Pomeroy are leading the offensive attack for the Prospectors.
Region rumble: Marcos de Niza looked impressive in a 37-12 win over Desert Ridge last week, and will look to stay undefeated when it faces off with Westwood. The Padres are balanced on offense and have one of the fastest defenses in the state. They seem to be on course for a region-deciding game with Mountain Pointe to finish the regular season, but Westwood or Perry could trip them up if they are overlooked, so Marcos must stay focused. The Warriors started the season strong but were pummeled by Perry last week when they played without Billy Sueing for a team rules violation and lost Valencio Gray to an injury. Westwood hung with Red Mountain and beat Mesa earlier this season, so the talent is there.
Red Mountain rolling: That “other” Fiesta Region matchup this week is pretty darn good on its own. Red Mountain is undefeated and its defense has stuffed three consecutive opponents (one shutout, 18 combined points) since the 32-point first half outburst by Westwood in Week 1. The offense remains a work in progress, but there are options in the passing game (Billy Freeman, Coleton Thornton, Jacob Tune and Elizha Cordova) for QBs Clint Cogswell and Aaron Eiseler. Xavier Parsons is a powerful running back whose size allows him to hide behind his line, while his strength can push the pile. Brophy’s youth and potential simultaneously showed against Chandler last week. The Broncos may have found some answers with Josh Dennard at running back to help sophomore QB Tyler Bruggman (1,186 yards, 10 TD) and a big-play passing game with Devon Allen and Fred Gammage. Freeman was once a quarterback prospect at Brophy before he transferred to Red Mountain and sat out last season.
Play like Bulldogs: It’s 4-0 Glendale Cactus at 3-1 Queen Creek in a matchup of 4A teams on the rise. Cactus has been good for awhile, and the Cobras showed it by eventually wearing down depleted-but-talented Saguaro last week in a 42-41 overtime thriller that might have been the best game of the season. Deke Cisco ran for 166 yards and 3 TDs on 25 carries and completed 11 of 19 passes for 88 yards. The Bulldogs will have their hands full trying to stop Cactus’ running game and no-huddle attack. Queen Creek’s offense has been effective this season. Can Adam Brzeczek and Chim Nga lead the group to the end zone and keep the Cactus offense out of commission?
Something’s gotta to give: Show Low has an explosive offense led by quarterback Rathen Ricedorff, who is averaging 295 yards passing in five blowout victories. So far this season, Ricedorff has been careful with his passes, throwing only two interceptions. Fountain Hills, meanwhile, is led by a defense that has given up just three touchdowns (all coming in a 21-14 loss to Florence) and has forced 11 turnovers. The Falcons will need to control the ball on offense and they have the personnel to pull it off. Trace Johnson, Wesley Musa, Zach Rossfeld and quarterback Ranier Greenstreet all average more than 4 yards per carry, with Johnson averaging 10 yards on his 36 carries so far this season. Fountain Hills has already played in two games that went down to the wire, while Show Low has cruised. The cruising stops this week for the Cougars; they’ll have to play all four quarters if they want to beat the Falcons.