The opening round of the state football playoffs had some fireworks, surprises, and standout performances. Here’s what we learned and what the second round has in store for us.
Most of the time, when you give up 40 points in high school, it could be a loss…or at least a close game. Highland was able to put up a 40 spot on the #3 Pioneers, and Pinnacle still won by 29. Quarterback Brian Lewerke and the rest of the Pioneers offense will need to put up similar numbers in their second round matchup against the potent #6 Mountain Pointe offense.
Chaparral Firebirds vs. Sunnyside Blue Devils
#10 Chaparral was dominant against #7 Westwood, beating the Warriors 30-0. The defense was able to limit the Westwood attack, and Firebirds’ sophomore quarterback Grayson Barry threw for two touchdowns. Many anticipated Chaparral would be on the road for the remainder of their playoff run, but #15 Sunnyside upset #2 Ironwood Ridge, so Chaparral will host the Blue Devils in the second round. Sunnyside quarterback Isaiah Salazar was electric for the Blue Devils as he threw for four touchdowns and rushed for one against Ironwood Ridge.
The top seed in Division III continued the trend they rode in the regular season: Score a lot of points and don’t give up many defensively. Hell of a strategy, right? The Sabercats beat Sabino 55-14 in the first round. Saguaro playmaker, and the top recruit in the state, Christian Kirk, had two touchdowns on the ground and caught two more from quarterback Kare Lyles. Kirk ended the night with four touchdowns, 164 receiving yards and 99 rushing yards. He also had a busy Saturday, as he took his official visit to Arizona State as the Sun Devils beat Notre Dame, 55-31. He tweeted this photo out after the game:
Let the speculation heat up as to where Kirk will play on Saturdays.
Seton Catholic knocked off Page in the opening round of the playoffs, winning 70-0. This is the fifth straight game the Sentinels have not given up a point, and they have given up just seven points in their last eight games. Running back Antonio Campanella rushed for 116 yards and three touchdowns on six carries. The top-seeded Sentinels face Winslow in the second round.
Good To Be A Favorite
Each first round favorite won in Division V. This presents some interesting matchups for some of the top players in the division. #2 Tempe Prep hosts #7 Joy Christian. Ten Tempe Prep plays notched 21 rushing touchdowns on the year, including five players with at least three rushing touchdowns. Top seeded Yuma Catholic takes on #8 Pusch Ridge. Matt Pistone and co. took care of business against #16 Tuba City in the opening round, winning 71-6. Sixth-seeded Arizona Lutheran Academy will have their hands full with #3 Thatcher’s Heath Motes. Motes has 17 passing touchdowns on the year, and 29 rushing touchdowns. He also plays in the Thatcher secondary.
The top two seeds square off in the Division-VI championships this upcoming week. #1 Bagdad knocked off #4 Gilbert Christian 60-24, and #2 Mogollon took down #3 Pima. Mogollon will have to slow down a potent Bagdad offense, who has put up at least 60 points in the last six games. Mogollon’s Joe Gaylor will be a factor on both sides of the ball, as he leads the team in touchdown receptions and interceptions.