Upsets are fun and all but there is something to having the best two teams facing off for a championship game. That is what we have with Desert Edge facing off against Paradise Valley this Saturday. Who ever wins will be crowned a state champion in football for the first time in school history.
The Paradise Valley Trojans have run the table to this point in the season and have some remarkable players leading the way. Senior quarterback Daniel Bridge-Gadd is one of the best at his position that Arizona has to offer and his main weapon Jacob Brown is electric on both sides of the ball. The Trojans have already made school history by making the championship for the first time but they are not content with just that.
Desert Edge has rattled off ten wins in a row since losing to Paradise Valley as well as Chaparral (of division I) on the second and third weeks of the season. In those games, they were without starting quarterback Tehran Thomas who is the all-purpose yard king in this state. The ground attack of the Scorpions is impressive and runs behind a young and tough offensive line who averages about 290 pounds across the board.
Key Matchup: Desert Edge’s running backs against Paradise Valley’s linebackers. The aforementioned Scorpion offensive line blocks for two running backs who have been very impressive this season. RoShaun Johnson had cemented himself as one of the better backs in Arizona already with his play before his junior season and in 2015, has 14 rushing touchdowns. His partner in crime has been a breakout performer this season. Sophomore Rocky Perez has rushed for over 1,000 yards this year.
Paradise Valley has two very impressive linebackers that will be very important in stopping the Edge rushing attack. Senior Grayson Fattelah is the leader and the voice of this defense and another sophomore of not in this game, Max Seifer has been a pleasant surprise. Both have over 100 tackles on the season.
Impact Performers: This should be a game of two quarterbacks trying to one-up each other all game. If that ends up being the case, I would expect to see some pretty special performances out of Tehran Thomas of Desert Edge and Daniel Bridge-Gadd of PV. Thomas is electric with his feet and can make the throws when needed. Bridge-Gadd has a rifle for an arm but has really improved his game with his legs and his ability to extend plays. Both teams have talent defensively but if these two quarterbacks are on their A games, this should be a very exciting shootout.
Keep an Eye on: Yet another junior for Desert Edge. What a class that is for them. Eric Marsh is a safety/corner for the Scorpions and has done an excellent job making plays all over the field for the Scorpions. He can cover and make an impact in the secondary and can also blitz and attack the offensive back field. He leads the team in tackles for loss on the year with 16 and is second on the team in sacks with seven. At his position, those are some fantastic stats.
For Paradise Valley, a lot of eyes will be on Jacob Brown at the receiver position but you cannot sleep on the other weapons that Bridge-Gadd likes to spread the ball out to. One of which is senior Aron Smith who had just under 900 yards receiving and 12 touchdowns on the season. He has made some big plays for the Trojans and actually leads the team in yards per reception. If forgotten about, Smith can make the Scorpion defense pay.
Desert Edge and Paradise Valley kick off at 11am on Saturday from Arizona Stadium in Tucson.