Here we go. It’s getting closer to the truth. Who will survive to hold up the gold ball at Sun Devil Stadium on Dec. 1?
Let’s break down the 6A state football quarterfinals with a prediction on each game.
On Tuesday, we’ll look at 5A, Wednesday will be 4A and Thursday is 3A, 2A and 1A.
No. 8 Phoenix Mountain Pointe (7-4) at No. 1 Chandler (10-1), Friday, 7 p.m.
This might be the only team on Chandler’s side of the bracket that really has a shot at slowing down the Wolves. But Pride coach Rich Wellbrock will see first-hand why it has been so difficult for anybody in Arizona to contain the Wolves. It starts with third-year varsity starting quarterback Jacob Conover. It ends with a solid defensive front and linebacking corps. If QB Nick Wallerstedt can crack through Chandler’s secondary, the Pride has a chance. RB Jakim McKinney will be needed at full strength. And the receivers are going to have to get open. Wallerstedt’s speed turning up field will have to be something the Wolves watch out for. He’s fast and tough. Chandler’s secondary will be challenged. But who is going to slow down Chandler’s game breakers on offense?
Prediction: Chandler 42, Mountain Pointe 31
Washington: “It was just a good team victory.” Eric Norwood, Special to azcsports
No. 5 Gilbert Highland (10-1) at No. 4 Peoria Liberty (10-1), Friday, 7 p.m.
Highland’s only loss was to Mountain Pointe. Liberty’s only loss was to Pinnacle, a one-point heart-breaker. These are two of the better defensive teams in 6A. Liberty’s defense is led by DL Braxten Croteau and LB Ryan Puskas, both Cal commits. Croteau leads the Lions in sacks and Puskas leads them in tackles. Highland RB/SS Kohner Cullimore holds down a stingy defense and makes enough big plays on offense to open it up for the Hawks. Highland has been playing so well the last few weeks, that it’s going to take Liberty’s best game for four quarters to win.
Prediction: Highland 24, Liberty 20
No. 6 Gilbert Perry (9-2) at No. 3 Phoenix Desert Vista (10-1), Friday, 7 p.m.
This is a chance for the Thunder to show what it is made of. The team feels like it has been flying under the radar all season with the only loss coming against Highland, where Desert Vista lost top rusher Tyson Grubbs for the season with an injury. Colby Humphrey is coming off maybe his best game running the ball last week for the Thunder. Desert Vista will need to control the clock and not let junior QB Chubba Purdy take over the game for Perry with his legs. He has run for more than 150 yards in each of his last two games. Perry’s defense, led by safety Travis Calloway, took a big step in the right direction last week, forcing five Basha turnovers in a 38-21 win.
Prediction: Perry 33, Desert Vista 28
Chubba Purdy leads Perry’s high-powered offense against Basha in first round state playoff game.Richard Obert, azcentral sports
No. 10 Mesa Red Mountain (9-2) at No. 2 Phoenix Pinnacle (10-1), Friday, 7 p.m.
Pinnacle has shown great fortitude, coming back from deficits against Liberty and last week against Mesa Desert Ridge in the second half to win. QB J.D. Johnson will have to be spot on, because Red Mountain’s defense is tough. It likes to blitz and put pressure on the quarterback. Shaq Daniels leads a strong shut-down secondary for the Lions, who withstood a late rally by Queen Creek last week to move on. But this will be the fastest team Red Mountain has seen with a next-man-up mentality on offense carrying the Pioneers.
Prediction: Pinnacle 31, Red Mountain 28
To suggest human-interest story ideas and other news, reach Obert at email@example.com or 602-316-8827. Follow him at twitter.com/azc_obert.