Chaparral at Marcos de Niza
If the first go-round between these Division II heavyweights is any indication — and it often is — this one figures to be another ulcer. Chaparral’s growth and ascent has been well-chronicled since it’s 1-3 start to the season, but it’s worth noting Marcos’ biggest test since its lone loss to Tucson Ironwood Ridge was passed when they beat up Laveen Cesar Chavez in the second half to close the regular season, so the Padres have been tested recently. Their athletes are undeniable on both sides of the ball, and QB Josh Eckley (as he was the first time around) could be a difference maker again as the Padres’ passing game is a nightmare to stop. It’s just hard to go against a Chaparral defense that’s figured itself out of late — especially a veteran secondary – and is managing an offense efficiently.
Prediction: Chaparral 24, Marcos de Niza 20
Desert Vista at Hamilton
We’ve seen our fair share of shootouts in this postseason, but this doesn’t figure to be one of them. The regular season meeting seems like a pretty good indicator of what should happen. Desert Vista will need some success running the ball to open up its offense, but Hamilton’s defense is so stout it could be difficult. Hamilton’s offense is similarly run-based and faces a well-rounded Thunder defense, so big plays could be at a premium. The Huskies seem to have the advantage because their defense will be the most dominant unit on the field, but that’s what we thought last year and the Thunder dominated in the title game. Hamilton is favored once again this time around, so we’ll see if history repeats itself or the Huskies re-assert their dominance.
Prediction: Hamilton 24, Desert Vista 17
— Kyle Odegard
Red Mountain at Brophy
Red Mountain pulled off one the upset in beating Brophy, 33-31, in Week 3. If the Mountain Lions do it again, it may be even more of a surprise. Red Mountain looked great early but tailed off with losses to Desert Ridge and then Mountain View. The team’s passing game is solid but the running attack has been sporadic. Wide receiver Aeron Carr, a speed demon, now sees a healthy amount of carries in the backfield, and the team needs him or someone else to step up running the ball. The big question with Brophy is its health. The Broncos seem to be peaking, but with running back Marche Dennard and wide receiver Devon Allen both battling ankle injuries, there are question marks offensively. If both are 100 percent, Brophy probably wins comfortably, but the absence of Dennard, Allen or both could add a level of intrigue.
Prediction: Brophy 42, Red Mountain 28
— Kyle Odegard
Westview at Desert Ridge
One lock of a prediction for this one: Both teams are going to run the ball, and run it often. Desert Ridge has the more dominant offensive line but also lost star running back J.J. Husar to a torn ACL late in the year. This is the team’s first tough test without him, so it will be interesting to see how well backup Taren Morrison fares. Westview has a standout of its own in Seivion Morris (112 carries, 1,249 yards, 20 TD) and a dual threat quarterback in Kordell Provchy. Westview was within six points of Brophy in the second half and is a traditional power, so this game could be closer than the seedings would seem to indicate if its defensive line can handle Desert Ridge’s bulk. Westview’s defense will have to be tough at the line of scrimmage because the Jaguars’ O-line is one of the best in the state. Conversely, D-Ridge’s defense has been a bit underrated most of the season and the D-line and secondary have been especially good. Discipline with both gap control and penalties is key for the Jaguars.
Prediction: Desert Ridge 35, Westview 27
— Kyle Odegard
Desert Mountain at Mountain Pointe
The most interesting part of this matchup is probably Mountain Pointe's defense against Desert Mountain's offense, notably the Pride's talented secondary against DM's Kyle Allen, Mark Andrews and co. The Wolves must run the ball enough to make Mtn. Pointe have to defend it and can't turn the ball over. That means Kyle Allen will need time to throw and do what he's done well in finding secondary receivers at times. Mountain Pointe's offense wants to run, the Pride have a size advantage up front on Desert Mtn. That running game sets up Antonio Hinojosa and Jalen Brown for big plays down the field. The Wolves aren't being given much of a chance on the No. 1 seed's home field, but if the Wolves can get this into a shootout and avoid letting Mountain Pointe get into the Wolves' heads, Desert Mountain can make this interesting.
Prediction: Mountain Pointe 34, Desert Mountain 30