Best in the West: Semifinals Tournament Preview

Only three west side schools remain in the 2018 state tournaments but don’t let that fool you, all three have a good shot at winning their respective tourneys. Although, who would’ve known we would have almost all the west valley semi-final games as rematches?

Game of the week: 4A #3 Desert Edge @ #2 Saguaro

Desert Edge moved down from the 5A Conference in this year’s realignment and faced one of the toughest schedules in 4A. With that being said, it might have been the smartest thing to do, scheduling powerhouses, Salpointe Catholic and Saguaro (Scottsdale), in the regular season. Not only did they play well in those games but they had a chance to win in both instances.

Salpointe sits as the top seed with Saguaro in second and Desert Edge the obvious three seed. Those two losses could prove to be the reason for DEHS’s success if they make it to this year’s state championship. Even after applying what they learned from the original matchup in week six, there are still two main concerns to overcome for the Scorpions.

First, even though Desert Edge did well in stopping sophomore quarterback, Frank Schafroth, picking him off twice, that won’t be the QB they see in this matchup. Instead, junior, Tyler Beverett, returned for the Sabercats for their season-closing game three weeks ago. In his three games, the Saguaro offense has outscored opponents, 167 to 6 including two shutouts. Beverett hasn’t been intercepted by anyone in any game against an Arizona opponent.

As if this new offense isn’t enough of a shakeup, Saguaro has also flipped that imaginary switch. Freshman quarterback, Adryan Lara, was intercepted three times in their last meeting with Saguaro, but the youngster has grown over the last half of the season. Also, the Sabercat defense did a great job stalling the Scorpion offense with only Jihad Marks accumulating over 100 all-purpose yards.

The defense must keep this game manageable for Lara and the DEHS offense. They held back an electric Greenway offense last week in a 49-19 victory, but it’s time for athletes like Andrew Patterson, Kennith Powell, and Kody Ball to ascend and prove that the 2015 DIII Champions are a power to fear in 4A with a win over the five-time defending champs.


The Faithful Rematch

The top seed in the 3A Conference, Northwest Christian, has only one blemish on their season but that won’t be their semi-final rematch. Following two games outscoring opponents, 84 to 13, the number one seed will once again meet with Valley Christian, a team they know well.

NCS rushed their way to a win behind 2 touchdowns and 126 rush yards by Aren Van Hofwegen in week five against Valley Christian. While the team loves to rush, junior quarterback, Johnathan Metzger, has been a viable option from the snap with over 1,100 yards through the air. This versatile offense is in part how they defeated Valley Christian at this year’s midway point.

Another reason how they won the former matchup was the defense only allowing Valley Christian to score ten points. Defensively, senior, Josh Heidel, had a team-high of 11 tackles with Levi Bourland and Cameron Sterner adding in a sack each.

This is meeting number 24 between the crosstown schools with the Crusaders holding a slim 12-11 record. You can read more about the rivalry and hear from NCS head coach, David Inness, from Haley Stesiak’s recap from their first meeting this year.

A win for Northwest Christian would advance them to their first state championship since 2015.


Quest for Five

The ‘Yotes of Centennial has cruised to the semi-finals in the 5A Conference with victories against Sunnyslope and Cienega by a combined 87 points. They now face a team that nearly beat Saguaro (Scottsdale) down in the 4A semi-finals last season, the fifth-ranked Higley Knights.

The Knights are coming off a huge road win against Casteel, a team the Coyotes beat by 23 in week zero. The key to beating Higley is stopping the Knights passing game, led by senior QB, Spencer Brasch, who has racked up over 3,300 yards and 44 TD’s through the air.

The Centennial defense is more than ready on the front lines and secondary for a high-octane offense. Connor Knudsen, Leandre Harris, and Marquis Walker dominate the backfield with 35 sacks between the three seniors. Jaydin Young and Tawee Walker back up the d-line, leading the defense with 15 INT’s.

Walker and Young are also the two leading rushers on the team, so if their defense can get them back on the other side of the ball, they should be able to bulldoze their way through the Knights and to their fifth straight state championship game.


Three games left, three conference powerhouses. Be sure to go support the rest of the west side teams in these neutral matches, game locations are below. Also, don’t forget to use #FridayNight360AZ to join in on all the talk under the lights!


Best in the West: 11/16 (3 West Valley Schools/20 total)

5A Tournament:

#5 Higley @ #1 Centennial (Location: Willow Canyon HS)

4A Tournament:

#3 Desert Edge @ #2 Saguaro (Location: Coronado HS)

3A Tournament:

#5 Valley Christian @ #1 Northwest Christian (Location: North Canyon HS; 6:00 PM Kickoff)