#1 Notre Dame vs. #16 Sahuarita
NDP rolled through the season with their closest win being by 2 points to Marin from Cali. The easily have the most talented group of players in 4A2. While Sahuarita put together an unexpected 6 win season behind the legs of RB Allonte Singfield.
The best predictor of the future is the past and NDP hasn't lost in a year and a half, I do not expect them to lose tonight.
Prediction: Notre Dame big.
#8 Amphi vs. #9 Mingus
Amphi was tough, going 6-4 but all 4 loses came to playoff teams. They did manage to upset Sabino though. RBs Damian Henry and Chris Johnson move the chains and eat up clock, they rushed for 1,000 yards a piece. The defense was solid most of the year as they held four opponents to 7 points or less. They have the tough task of defending dual threat QB Tony Vocca. Vocca has rushed and passed for 1,000 yards and is the engine that drives the Marauders.
Prediction: Mingus has a long trip but traveling is something they are used to. This game will be a quick one as both love to run the ball. Each possession will be crucial. I will go with Mingus.
#5 Greenway vs. #12 Tempe
Greenway lost to very tough Notre Dame and Coronado teams but other than that, dominated most of their opponents. QB Greg Walton has accounted for over 2,000 yards of offense and WR/DB Ryan Harper is good on both sides of the ball. He and CB Ronnie sellers have intercepted the ball 13 times between the two of them.
What a remarkable job Johnny Rodriguez has done at Tempe. He ended up beating Arcadia and Seton to get them in the playoffs for the first time in years. They pound the ball with 6 players going over 100 yards on the year. QB Zach Guizar led the team in rushing and had 1,300 yards of offense.
Prediction: This game should be competitive but I feel Greenway has a bit more depth and pull this one out in the end.
#4 Queen Creek vs. #13 Moon Valley
Two of Queen Creek's three losses were to 4A1 playoff teams and their other was to Coronado. They got 5 wins over playoff bound teams. QC likes to run the ball, rushing for over 2,500 yards on the year but when they throw it, big Joel Hansen has been great, scoring 7 times.
Moon Valley played a tough schedule, with 6 of their opponents being playoff bound. They only got one from them but were competitive in most games. They like to run the ball with Brian Ramirez but have a very dangerous player in WR C.J. Westbrooks. Their defense got to the QB 26 times and they have a solid kicker.
Prediction: I wouldn't be surprised to see either team win but just feel that QC is more battle tested and will pull this one out.
#3 Palo Verde vs. #14 Buckeye
PV's lone loss was to Sunnyslope up in Phoenix. They have averaged over 35 points per game offensively.
Buckeye was 1-5 at one point and won 4 straight to get in the playoffs. RB Ryan Taborn has been their workhorse once again, rushing for over 1,000 yards but what concerns me is a defense that is giving up 25 points per game.
Prediction: Bottomline, Adam Hall is a man amongst boys and Buckeye has no answer for him. PV big.
#6 Santa Rita vs. #11 Washington
What a turnaround Scurran and Santa Rita have made. Their only loss this year was to a very tough Palo Verde team. Receiver J.J. Holliday is as fast a player as you will find and is dangerous as a return man. Does WHS have anyone that can run with him?
Washington won their last three games to get into the playoffs. They have a high octane passing attack led by senior WR Trevor Johnson and his 11 TDs. But after traveling to Tucson, which Washington team is going to show up? The one that played Higley and Mingus tough or the one that scored a total of 7 points in loses to Greenway and Notre Dame?
Prediction: I am going to take SR down in Tucson but at the same time think WHS will keep the game competitive.
#7 Higley vs. #10 Arcadia
Higley started off 0-2 and rattled off 7 straight wins before losing to Queen Creek for the region title. This despite facing one of the toughest schedules in 4A2. This is another team that runs the heck out of the ball. Chris Campbell has accounted for 1,200 yards on the ground. RJ Arriaga (9 sacks) and Kelvin Fischer (7 INTs) lead the defense. This is not a team I would want to face right now.
Arcadia on the other hand started off winning 6 straight before losing their last 4. Those 4 losses were to very tough teams and QB Colby Kirkegaard was missing for some of them with an injury. They spread the ball around with 7 players having 200 yards of offense or more. TE Kevon Cosgrove is a dangerous redzone weapon and David Carroll is good on both sides of the ball.
Prediction: Higley has been playing solid football and I expect them to win this one.
#2 Coronado vs. #15 Bradshaw Mountain
A 3 point loss to Higley in OT kept Coronado from going undefeated. RB Kaylin Ashley is the best RB in 4A2 and is a great return man. QB Alex Buya and WR Bryan Dunlavey have hooked up for nearly 700 yards in the air. The defense has been tough, allowing just 13 points per game but the Dons' offense drives this team, averaging 35 points per contest.
Bradshaw was actually 0-5 at one point but won 5 straight before losing to Mingus in the region title game. They are a run oriented team led by Mychael Eikenberry and his 1,100 yards rushing. They have only thrown for 500 yards all year. The defense has been opportunistic, collecting 16 INTs and I commend the team for fighting hard down the stretch to make the playoffs.
Prediction: If Kaylin Ashley is in the lineup, I pick Coronado to win big.