PEORIA PANTHERS @ CACTUS COBRAS
Panther offense versus Cobra defense
Peoria has averaged 37 points a game in four victories, two of which came without the services of standout RB Jamal Miles. As a junior Miles scored an astounding 38 touchdowns, and opened the season combining for seven scores against Thunderbird and Independence. Senior Reiquan Garrison has been a more than adequate replacement for Miles, eclipsing the 100-yard mark in wins over Marana and Apollo. At 6-3, 220-pounds senior Jeremy Dang is as imposing of a wide receiver as you'll see at the high school level, and has five receptions for scores.
The Cobras have been tough on opposing running backs all season, holding two opponents under 100-yards prior to Friday's win over O'Connor. LB Zach Minter and DL Apollo Ford have provided opposing quarterbacks a lot of misery this season, with each recording six sacks on the year. LB Phillip Pollock, LB Ben Monarez, DB Kandon Thomas, and DB Ryan Wescott are all seniors with a lot of talent and experience.
Cobra offense versus Panther defense
RB Mike Brown came into the season as one of the top backs in the state and has done nothing but make a case for his name at the top of that list. On the year he has rushed for nearly 700 yards and 11 touchdowns. Senior wide receiver Trey Sam has emerged as the Cobras' top pass catcher, averaging over 20 yards a catch. QB Brody Ray is the team's second leading rusher.
The linebacking corps of Daniel Hawkins, Michael Rodriguez, and Johnny Cordova has been strong this season, with each recording over 20 tackles on the year. DL/LB Tyler Hutchings leads the team in both tackles and sacks, and junior DB Steven Trujillo leads the team in interceptions. Like Cactus the Panthers have had great success against the run.
Peoria will be looking to prove that they can stand up to a quality opponent-while Cactus showed a lot of mettle in defeating a tough Canyon del Oro squad two weeks ago the Panthers have yet to play an opponent with a winning record.
One of the state's most heated rivalries, the two programs did not see each other for nine years before last year's 28-22 Cactus victory. Peoria's Doug Clapp and Cactus' Larry Fetkenhier are among the more tenured coaches in the state and have both won state titles at their respective schools.
This year's Cactus edition is a departure from the traditional Fetkenhier units highlighted by big passing numbers and an excellent kicking game; the overpowering Brown has accounted for the lion's share of the Cobra offense, while the kicking team has not notched a field goal.
Last season's win helped Cactus clinch the West Valley Region title, but late in the season struggled as they were eliminated by unheralded McClintock in the playoffs. As big as another win over Peoria would be the Cobras don't want it to be the highlight of their season.