Division V Quarterfinals
No. 9 Tempe Prep vs. No. 1 Northwest Christian
When: 7 p.m. Saturday
Where: Williams Field High School (2076 Higley Road, Gilbert)
Records: Tempe Prep 7-4; NW Christian 11-0
Last Meeting: NW Christian 37, Tempe Prep 0 (Oct. 28)
Key Players: Tempe Prep: RB/LB Ahmari Underwood (610 yards, 8 TD); TE/LB Robert Otting-Crandall (85 tackles, 3.5 sacks); WR/LB Connor Gourley (388 yards, 4 TD); FB/DL Levi Hartzler (313 yards rushing, 4 TD, 62 tackles, 3.5 sacks); QB/DB Forest Redlin (707 yards passing, 4 TD, 14 INT; 380 yards rushing, 4 TD).
NW Christian: RB Casey Jahn (2,068 yards, 29 TD); QB Orbi Gonzales (903 yards passing, 11 TD, 3 INT); RB Hunter McShanag (754 yards, 9 TD); WR Dean Shipp (304 yards, 5 TD).
Outlook: Tempe Prep coach Tommy Brittain said the biggest disappointments to come out of the Knights' 37-0 loss to NWC two weeks ago - the Crusaders are the defending 2A-champion and Div. V favorites this year - was being shutout for the first time in two years, and the Knights couldn't stay competitive most of the night. Regardless of outcome, he believes that'll change this time. Special teams (especially touchbacks on kickoffs which forced TP to the 20-yard-line on nearly every possession) and the underrated NWC defense did in Tempe Prep last time. Casey Jahn is the state's all-time leading rusher and had 176 yards last time, and with so much attention on Jahn, QB Orbi Gonzeles was 9-of-11 passing for 146 yards and two touchdowns. A win here would be a Herculean task but expect the Knights to score some points and keep it closer for a longer period this time.
No. 14 San Tan Foothills vs. No. 11 Morenci
When: 3 p.m. Saturday
Where: Higley High School (4068 E. Pecos Road, Gilbert)
Records: San Tan Foothills 7-4; Morenci 8-3
Key Players: San Tan Foothills: RB/LB Carlos Melendez (2,164 yards, 29 TD); QB/DB Mychael Bruce (1,459 yards passing, 16 TD, 3 INT; 282 yards rushing, 4 TD, 28 tackles, 5 INT); WR/LB Julian Navarrette (751 yards, 10 TD, 58 tackles, 4 sacks, 3 INT);
Morenci: QB/DB Frank Ogas (625 yards passing, 5 TD, 8 INT, 453 yards rushing, 11 TD); RB/DB Clay Ruedas (884 yards, 12 TD.
Outlook: After winning a crazy game against Coolidge, San Tan Foothills lost a heartbreaker to No. 9 Tempe Prep and a shootout to No. 2 Yuma Catholic to close the regular season. That feels like a long time ago after the Sabercats knocked off No. 3 Thatcher, 33-27, last week. This could be a better matchup for San Tan Foothills, although Morenci (which beat No. 6 AZ Lutheran last week for its seventh consecutive win) might need to run for 382 yards again the way it did last week. Clay Ruedas ran for 212 yards and Frank Ogas ran for 112 in that game. Stopping that running game is obviously key for the Sabercats, but Morenci has a bigger undertaking because San Tan is balanced offensively. Among common opponents, Morenci lost 32-7 to Thatcher early in the season, while both beat Tombstone handily. The "neutral" site in this case also greatly favors San Tan Foothills in proximity.