I personally think it would be very unwise to write off the 3 time defending champs and say that their run is over.
Rewind to 2005...
Early in the 2005 season Coach John Bryant led the defending 1A champion Pima Roughriders into Heber for an early season matchup with Mogollon.
Pima was clearly outmatched. Mogollon was faster and much more physical. Pima QB Nephi Bryant got nailed on an option play in the 1st quarter, and was not a factor the rest of the game. Mogollon was up big going into the half, and could have easily put up the mercy rule on Pima if not for substituting in the 2nd half. Mogollon won something like 44-14 if my memory serves me correctly.
A couple of weeks later, Pima lost a close game against Valley Union. The loss cost Pima the #1 seed in the 1A East.
Fast forward to the 2005 playoffs...
Pima beats a talented Canyon State team by 20 points in the 1st round. Knocks off the #1 seed from the north and #1 ranked team overall Joseph City in the Semis. Then repeats as state champs with a 6 point win over Mayer in the finals.
How did Mogollon and Valley Union do that year in the playoffs? Valley Union got mercy ruled in the 1st round of the playoffs at home. Mogollon got shut out in the semis.
Could this sort of pattern repeat itself this season with Coach Bryant now at Joseph City with a somewhat inexperienced squad? Can the Wildcats bounce back after a poor showing in Heber and challenge for another state title this year? I wouldnt bet against it.
Coach Bryant was recently quoted in the AZ Republic and gave his team high praise with a lot of potential. He has never seemed to me as the type of guy who likes to blow smoke with his quotes.
Coach Bryant teams ALWAYS get better as the year goes along and they are always seem to peak come playoff time.
This team is not dominant like the teams the past 3 seasons. It will be interesting to see how much they improve as the season progressess.