Some teams make their season debuts this week. Others are trying to fix what went wrong last week. Still others want to use impressive openers as a springboard.
There are statements to be made, games to grow from and redemption to be had in Week 2’s 10 most intriguing Arizona high school football story lines.
No. 1 Pride factor
Phoenix Mountain Pointe (0-0) at Phoenix Pinnacle (1-0), Friday, 7 p.m.
This is our Week 2 Game of the Week. Mountain Pointe is launching the Rich Wellbrock coaching era. There is a lot to live up to after Norris Vaughan left the program in mint condition. Can Wellbrock with his defensive coordinator, Conrad Hamilton, keep the Pride among the state’s more physical, fast teams in the state? Will Pinnacle QB Spencer Rattler finally break through against an opponent he lost to each of his first three varsity seasons? Rattler and the Pioneers are riding confidence after hanging 59 points on then-No. 2-ranked Gilbert Perry in last week’s 26-point win. Mountain Pointe will have to watch out for a solid ground game, as well, with Matt Goodlow ready to break out. Who will Pinnacle see at QB? Nick Wallerstedt or Ahmen Williams?
No. 2 Hungry Wolves
Queen Creek (1-0) at Chandler (0-1), Friday, 7 p.m.
This is an important week for two-time defending 6A champion Chandler after rendered powerless on Friday by Corona (Calif.) Centennial in a 35-13 loss. QB Jacob Conover managed only 133 passing yards and RB DeCarlos Brooks had 83 yards rushing on 18 carries. In the end, Centennial will prove to be a top-10 team in the nation. So alarms shouldn’t go off around the Wolves, unless they fall to Queen Creek, which is ready for 6A football behind accurate, big-arm QB Devin Larsen. Chandler’s pass defense got beat up last week, allowing 403 yards between two quarterbacks splitting time.
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No. 3 Payback?
Henderson (Nev.) Liberty at Scottsdale Saguaro (1-0), Friday, 7 p.m.
This might be the most difficult game on Saguaro’s regular-season schedule. Last year, in the second week of the season, Saguaro went to Nevada and got dominated by Liberty 51-20 in what was a rare non-competitive game by Saguaro in the Jason Mohns coaching era. Liberty is large, fast, physical, so Mohns has his team in full pads early this week to get ready for a physical game. This Liberty team is good enough to schedule national No. 1-ranked Bradenton (Fla.) IMG Academy on Sept. 7.
No. 4 Ground control
Queen Creek Benjamin Franklin (1-0) at Snowflake (1-0), Friday, 7 p.m.
Both these teams could see each other again in the 3A playoffs. Benjamin Franklin has a deep run game. In a rout of Ganado, it threw only one time and got 164 yards from Chandler Miles and 165 from Chanin Loving on the ground. Each had three rushing TDs. Snowflake’s balanced offense is led by running back David Brimhall, who had 84 yards and two TDs rushing in last week’s 22-7 win against Safford.
No. 5 Long rivalry
Yuma Catholic (1-0) at Phoenix Northwest Christian (1-0), Saturday, 7 p.m.
It’s been a few years since top-ranked 3A Northwest Christian beat Yuma Catholic, maybe the best, geographically furthest football rivalry in the state. These programs are always on top. This time, Rhett Stallworth is back in the saddle, coaching Yuma Catholic, after taking the past two years off in his role as principal. Both teams won their openers in dominating fashion, neither team giving up a point. RB Aren Van Hofwegen and WR Thomas Poe are Northwest’s main offensive weapons.
No. 6 Air show
Scottsdale Desert Mountain (0-1) at Scottsdale Chaparral (1-0), Friday, 7 p.m.
Chaparral junior QB Jack Miller (Ohio State commit) and Desert Mountain senior QB Kedon Slovis (USC) both passed for 400 yards last week, so expect a lot of passes and a long game. Desert Mountain’s rush defense struggled in a 48-41 loss to Glendale Apollo. Slovis passed 54 times, completing 32 for 401 yards and three TDs. Miller threw 47 times, completing 24 for 453 yards and three TDs in a 36-33 overtime win at Chandler Hamilton.
No. 7 Home again
Mesa Red Mountain (1-0) at Laveen Cesar Chavez (1-0), Friday, 7 p.m.
After traveling 2,500 miles for its opener in Alaska, Chavez, led by RB/LB Andrew Blitzke, plays its home opener against a team that is one of the most solid all-around teams in 6A. Red Mountain’s offense was solid behind new QB Darren Smith, who passed for 210 yards and two TDs with no interceptions in a 24-6 win over Mesa Desert Ridge. RB Ty McElroy had 106 yards and a TD on 16 carries. The defense is tough, led by LB Anthony Giraldi, who had 19 tackles last week.
No. 8 Born again
Glendale Cactus (0-0) at Tucson Catalina Foothills (1-0), Friday, 7 p.m.
This is as young a team Catalina Foothills coach Jeff Scurran has had since he turned an 0-10 team around five years ago while relying on a freshman QB, Rhett Rodriguez. But Scurran complimented his seniors for helping the young guys beat Sierra Vista Buena in last week’s opener. Cactus is playing its first game without coach Larry Fetkenhier since 1984. Joseph Ortiz makes his varsity coaching debut after serving as Gilbert Higley’s offensive coordinator. “It’s Cactus,” Scurran said. “They have the pride that Larry built. They have the talent, as usual, and the coach they hired has a great background.”
No. 9 Shock system
Mesa Desert Ridge (0-1) at Avondale Westview (0-0), Friday, 7 p.m.
Westview’s 23-7 first-round win over No. 2-seed Desert Ridge was the most shocking result of the 6A playoffs last year. It won’t be so much a shock if Westview wins again after Desert Ridge struggled offensively when QB Cooper Schmidt got knocked out of last week’s Red Mountain game. The line is strong, and RB Lucas Wright had more than 100 rushing yards. But the offense becomes more predictable without Schmidt, unless coach Jeremy Hathcock can find a solution quickly. Schmidt wasn’t able to play in last year’s playoff loss to Westview, either. Desert Ridge’s secondary was hampered after the first play last week when safety John Butler suffered a pulled hamstring.
No. 10 Return game
Peoria Sunrise Mountain (1-0) at Gilbert Williams Field (0-1), Friday, 7 p.m.
Like Chandler, Williams Field opened in California, losing to a really good team. Concerning was the 329 rushing yards allowed by the Black Hawks. They’ll have to get that fixed for a dynamic Sunrise Mountain offense, led by QB Keegan Freid, who has playmakers to keep the staunchest defenses off balance.
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