VX Division I football rankings: Final
Final VX Division I football rankings: [compiled by Mark
10. Desert Mountain (5-5)
The Wolves beat Mesa to end the regular season at 5-5 and earn the No. 13 seed in the Div. I playoffs. The Wolves have to play No. 3 Desert Ridge again after losing 55-41 to the Jaguars in October. Besides shoring up the run defense which Desert Ridge gashed through Desert Mountain's defense, QB Kyle Allen's health is paramount after suffered a minor injury against Mesa and not playing most of the second half.
9. Highland (6-4)
Similar to last year, Highland got on a roll late in the season to carry them into the playoffs. The Hawks lost a 21-14 contest to Chandler on Friday night, but stay in this spot with the gritty effort, even if the offense couldn't capitalize on several Chandler mistakes. The Hawks host Red Mountain in the first round of the playoffs on Friday night.
8. Red Mountain (5-5)
Capped by a terrific defensive effort in a win over Skyline on Friday night, Red Mountain was out of the playoff picture (despite its brutal schedule) until the calendar turned to October. The Lions won four of their final fives games of the season (a 17-7 loss to Desert Ridge didn't hurt much in the power rankings). They'll face Highland on Friday night in a matchup of somewhat similar tendencies.
6. Pinnacle (8-2)
The Pioneers won their section by beating Horizon two weeks ago in a shootout, followed by Anthem Boulder Creek on Friday night to secure a first-round home playoff game. It'll be a rematch against Mountain View, in which Pinnacle held on in a nail-biter, 28-25, in September. Pinnacle hasn't suffered a massive amount of injuries, Mountain View has, and if the Toros don't get a lot of players back this week, the Pioneers could be looking at another rematch in the quarterfinals: Hamilton.
5. Hamilton (8-2)
Hamilton believes it's about to become as healthy a starting lineup as its had all season, with a couple more original starters due back this week. It figures to impact the Division I bracket, in which the Huskies are a No. 3 seed against No. 14 Goodyear Millennium. The bracket sets up relatively well for Hamilton to reach the semifinals (though they'll likely get another big test from revenge-minded Pinnacle in the quarterfinals).
4. Westview (10-0)
A low strength of schedule rating is why Avondale Westview isn't higher despite the school's first undefeated season, but it does include wins against Red Mountain and Basha. Annually a quarterfinalist and semifinalist contender, Jeff Bowen's Knights (No. 5 seed in playoffs) are really good, but a challenging first-round matchup against No. 12 Brophy awaits.
3. Chandler (8-2)
Not many things went right for the Wolves, even in victory against Highland on Friday night. Chandler turned the ball over and struggled in the red zone as much as any other game this season. Still, the defense hung on to keep the Wolves the No. 2 playoff seed, where a matchup with upstart-Skyline awaits. If the Wolves advance, it'll be either Horizon or Basha in the quarterfinals. Pity the defenses if that happens.
2. Desert Ridge (9-1)
Because of the schedule compared to others among the Div. I elite, some still aren't quite sure what to make of Desert Ridge, besides they have a Player of the Year candidate in Taren Morrison (pictured) who's about to break the school's single-season rushing record. The Jaguars are trying to fly under the radar, but it won't last long with Desert Mountain its first-round playoff opponent, followed by either Brophy or Westview.
1. Mountain Pointe (10-0)
The jury might still be out on Desert Ridge, Hamilton and possibly Chandler, but Mountain Pointe's been the No. 1 team in the state most of the season. The past two year have featured an Ahwatukee school in the championship game (Desert Vista in 2011, Mountain Pointe in 2012) and this could be the best of the 'Tukee teams. It's already considered among the best nationally.