The playoffs are coming.
The brackets have been released for the high school football playoffs Saturday morning, and now the real fun begins.
Here are a few things that jumped out to me:
The biggest question for two newcomers to this division is how Centennial and Chaparral would handle the week-to-week grind against top talent. The Firebirds sit at a five seed and the Coyotes a six and both have showed they belong. Plus, when they went head-to-head, it was one of the best games of the year. The stout Centennial defense will have to face off against top quarterback prospect Ryan Kelley and the Basha Bears, while Chaparral will have to draw up a plan to contain He-man Tyler Johnson of Highland in the first round.
The bottom half of this bracket is absolutely brutal: Williams Field and Higley square off in the opening round and there is also second-seeded Queen Creek and seventh-seeded Saguaro, who stumbled early in the but have gone back to their winning ways. We could see an eventual rematch between the 2014 Division III state championship in the semis if Williams Field and Saguaro are able to make runs.
Some of the best quarterback performances I saw this year came from Division III in Paradise Valley’s Daniel Bridge-Gadd, Sabino’s Drew Dixon, and Sunrise Mountain’s Chase Cord. Sixth-seeded Sabino could make a run, but will have to get by a tough Cesar Chavez and could face Desert Edge in the second round, who have really hit their stride over the past few weeks. Expect some HUGE numbers from this bracket.
It’s an interesting situation for top-seeded Yuma Catholic in this bracket. They have looked very impressive in an undefeated season, but will face a tough team should both teams advance to the second round in Northwest Christian, who many considered to be the top team in the bracket for most of the year. The Shamrocks dethroned Northwest Christian after beating them 27-7 in Week 8, but a rematch would make for some great fireworks in this division. I’m also excited to see what some of these teams up north can do in second-seeded Show Low and fifth-seeded Snowflake.
There has been what seems to be a split decision in who the top team is in this division. For some, Benson warrants their top seed, but for others it is Joy Christian. Looking forward to seeing how this division plays out and if the two top seeds can navigate their way through this bracket.