Zone Read: Quarterfinals — What To Watch For

It’s one of the busiest times of the year as we work our way towards quarterfinal play at the upper divisions of the Arizona high school football playoffs.

This column is usually a collection of topics and tidbits I collect throughout the week but I decided to explore some of the more interesting storylines to follow from the games this weekend. 

Mirror Images

You’d expect the 5A 4-seed vs. 5-seed matchup to be an intriguing one and you can bet Queen Creek-Notre Dame Prep will live up to the billing Friday night in north Scottsdale. 

These two teams, in many ways, are a mirror image of one another. Both have efficient quarterbacks in QC’s Devin Larsen and NDP’s Kylan Weisser who are both savvy leaders.

The Bulldogs have the playoff pedigree (no pun intended) under head coach Travis Schureman but in their lone loss this season to Williams Field, QC struggled with the size of the Black Hawks big offensive and defensive lines. They’ll seen plenty of big bodies from the Saints Friday.

Making Another Run?

Last season Red Mountain, a 13-seed, made an improbable run to the 6A semi-finals before dropping a close 21-14 contest to top-seed Mountain Pointe. 

After rolling over Horizon 56-24 last week, the Mountain Lions will take on 15th-seed Westview who upset Desert Ridge.

Lance Lawson has been and continues to be one of the top offensive players in the state. Head coach Mike Peterson’s defense has looked good in recent weeks and RMHS is positioned well for a return trip to the semi’s, especially considered they’ve won five in a row at home. 

Catholics vs. Cactus

Tucson Salpointe has been on a roll since their close loss to 5A-top seed Cienega back in late September. Lancers’ running back Bijan Robinson is averaging over 142 yards per game on the ground and has 24 total touchdowns.

Dennis Bene’s Salpointe defense will have their hands full with a veteran Cactus offense paced by quarterback Mahal Lee and running back Damaria Norris. The Cobras are averaging over 50 points per game but sputtered in lopsided losses to Sunrise Mountain and Higley.

Pusch-ing The Envelope

The 3A division appears as wide open as ever. Looking forward to Northwest Christian making the trip to Tucson to take on Pusch Ridge, a team the Crusaders beat 28-21 in the first round last year.

David Inness’ team will have a different challenge Friday as the top-seeded Lions come into the game undefeated. 6-foot-2 senior quarterback Christian Fetsis has been close to unstoppable tallying 29 touchdowns with just two interceptions. He’ll be the key focus of NCS linebacker Dustin Inness who paces the Crusaders with 95 tackles from his linebacker position.

Make sure you use the #FridayNight360AZ hashtag when you’re out and about at playoff games around the state.