Now Reading
16 Southern Arizona football teams set to kick off state playoffs

From the archive: This story is more than 5 years old.

High school football

16 Southern Arizona football teams set to kick off state playoffs

A game-by-game breakdown with predictions of the local first-round action

  • Cienega beat Mountain View 43-28 last week to cap off an unbeaten regular season and earn the No. 1 seed in the 5A state playoffs. The two could meet in the state quarterfinals next week.
    Daniel Gaona/TucsonSentinel.comCienega beat Mountain View 43-28 last week to cap off an unbeaten regular season and earn the No. 1 seed in the 5A state playoffs. The two could meet in the state quarterfinals next week.

Welcome to the postseason.

High school football state playoffs kick off Friday night, with 11 Southern Arizona teams in action. There will be another four games, featuring five local teams, on Saturday night to close out the opening round.

The winners will move on to next week's quarterfinals while losers go home until next year. The end goal, of course, is to be playing Thanksgiving weekend when the Arizona Interscholastic Association hosts championship games at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale and Chaparral High School in Scottsdale.

Before we look too far ahead, here's a game-by-game breakdown of this week's local action:

6A state playoffs

No. 11 Tucson High (6-4) at No. 6 Chandler Hamilton (6-4)

  • When: Friday, 7 p.m.
  • Where: 3700 S. Arizona Ave., Chandler
  • Player to watch: D.J. Hinton, RB/DB, Tucson. The speedy senior leads the team with a combined 847 yards rushing and receiving and has scored 14 touchdowns.
  • Fun fact: Sixth-year coach Justin Argraves has Tucson High in the postseason for the fourth time in his tenure and the Badgers won their regional title for the second straight season.
  • Prediction: Hamilton 35, Tucson 21

5A state playoffs

No. 16 Laveen Fairfax (8-2) at No. 1 Cienega (10-0)

  • When: Friday, 7 p.m.
  • Where: 12775 E. Mary Anne Cleveland Way
  • Player to watch: Breaben Bolton, ATH/DB, Cienega. Bolton, a senior, rushed three times for 100 yards, caught four passes for 117 yards and a touchdown and hauled in an interception in last week's 43-28 win at Mountain View.
  • Fun fact: Cienega has won 13 straight games dating back to last fall and earned its second undefeated regular season in program history. The Bobcats also went 10-0 in 2011, before reaching the Division II state title game.
  • Prediction: Cienega 49, Fairfax 17

No. 14 Flowing Wells (6-4) at No. 3 Ironwood Ridge (8-2)

  • When: Friday, 7 p.m.
  • Where: 2475 W. Naranja Drive
  • Player to watch: Daniel Peabody, TE/DE, I-Ridge. The senior who is verbally commited to San Jose State has caused headaches for opponents on both sides of the ball. Peabody has gained 648 yards rushing and receiving, scored seven touchdowns, registered 4.0 sacks and averaged 2.8 tackles per game.
  • Fun fact: Flowing Wells is in the state playoffs for the second straight season after a 14-year drought.
  • Prediction: Ironwood Ridge 40, Flowing Wells 13

No. 10 Glendale Kellis (9-1) at No. 7 Marana (8-2)

  • When: Friday, 7 p.m.
  • Where: 12000 W. Emigh Road
  • Player to watch: Dominic Gehr, WR, Marana. The senior is one of the top targets for Marana's quarterback duo of Connor Leavens and Trenton Bourguet. Gehr has caught 33 passes for 732 yards and 11 touchdowns.
  • Fun fact: The Tigers are in the playoffs for the first time since 2007 and have a chance to win their first postseason game since 1983.
  • Prediction: Marana 56, Kellis 45

No. 9 Gilbert Mesquite (7-3) at No. 8 Mountain View (7-3)

  • When: Friday, 7 p.m.
  • Where: 3901 W. Linda Vista Blvd.
  • Player to watch: Caleb Ryden, QB, Mountain View. Ryden is coming off a career game in which he completed 25 of 35 passes for 461 yards and two touchdowns but with three interceptions. The senior is second in the 5A conference with 2,498 passing yards this fall.
  • Fun fact: The Mountain Lions are in the playoffs for the third time under fifth-year coach Clarence McRae and could face top-seeded Cienega in the quarterfinals next week.
  • Prediction: Mountain View 34, Mesquite 31

No. 11 Desert View (8-2) at No. 6 Queen Creek (8-2)

  • When: Friday, 7 p.m.
  • Where: 22149 E. Ocotillo Road
  • Player to watch: Alex Courtemanche, RB, Desert View. Not only is Courtemanche the top rusher in Tucson, he's also the best in the state with 1,981 yards and 29 touchdowns.
  • Fun fact: The Jaguars secured their first state playoff appearance since 1996 with last week's overtime win at San Tan Vally Poston Butte and marked just the second time in program history the team has won at least eight games in a season.
  • Prediction: Queen Creek 30, Desert View 19

4A state playoffs

No. 13 Canyon del Oro (6-4) at No. 4 Salpointe Catholic (8-2)

  • When: Friday, 7 p.m.
  • Where: 1545 E. Copper St.
  • Player to watch: Mario Padilla, ATH, Salpointe. The star sophomore has rushed for a team-high 1,086 yards and 15 touchdowns in addition to catching 12 passes for 169 yards and three scores.
  • Fun fact: CDO and Salpointe hadn't faced since 2012 before last week, when the Lancers captured the 4A Kino championship with a 31-14 win over the Dorados. This is the first postseason meeting between the old-school rivals since 2004, when Salpointe beat CDO 39-20.
  • Prediction: Salpointe 35, CDO 21

No. 11 Cave Creek Cactus Shadows (6-4) at No. 6 Catalina Foothills (8-2)

  • When: Friday, 7 p.m.
  • Where: 4300 E. Sunrise Drive
  • Player to watch: Jimmy Stewart, WR/FS, Foothills. The two-way senior has caught 20 passes for 550 yards and eight touchdowns, has pulled in four interceptions and averages 6.5 tackles per game.
  • Fun fact: Fourth-year coach Jeff Scurran has the Falcons in the playoffs for the fourth straight season. Foothills has posted an overall record of 31-12 in that span.
  • Prediction: Foothills 38, Cactus Shadows 24

No. 16 Amphitheater at No. 1 Scottsdale Saguaro (10-0)

  • When: Friday, 7 p.m.
  • Where: 6250 N. 82nd St., Scottsdale
  • Player to watch: David Watson, OL/DL, Amphi. The 6-foot-6-inch 295-pound junior has helped pave the way for a 1,000-yard rusher in addition to averaging 5.3 tackles per game.
  • Fun fact: Third-year coach Jorge Mendivil produced one of the state's best turnarounds this season, as the Panthers went from winless to postseason-bound, for the first time since 2010.
  • Prediction: Saguaro 42, Amphi 13

3A state playoffs

No. 12 Safford (5-5) at No. 5 Sabino (9-1)

  • When: Saturday, 6 p.m.
  • Where: 5000 N. Bowes Road
  • Player to watch: Drew Dixon, ATH, Sabino. The do-it-all senior Arizona Wildcats commit has passed for 932 yards and nine touchdowns, rushed for 817 yards and 14 scores and caught 20 passes for 249 yards and three more touchdowns.
  • Fun fact: Longtime coach Jay Campos has Sabino in the state playoffs for the 15th straight season but the Sabercats are hoping to advance past the opening round for the first time since 2013.
  • Prediction: Sabino 40, Safford 14

No. 10 Pusch Ridge Christian (7-3) at No. 7 Phoenix Northwest Christian (8-2)

  • When: Saturday, 6 p.m.
  • Where: 16401 N. 43rd Ave., Phoenix
  • Player to watch: Dakota Haynes, RB/LB, Pusch Ridge. Haynes helped the Lions win their first state championship last year and has been a big contributor on both sides of the ball this year as well, rushing for a team-high 668 yards and 11 touchdowns while averaging 7.9 tackles per game.
  • Fun fact: This is a rare first-round rematch between two teams who faced off in the state championship game a year earlier. Pusch Ridge scored two fourth-quarter touchdowns in that game to pull off a dramatic 14-7 win and capture the Division IV state crown.
  • Prediction: Pusch Ridge 24, Northwest Christian 21

2A state playoffs

No. 12 Tombstone (6-4) at No. 5 Benson (8-2)

  • When: Saturday, 6 p.m.
  • Where: 360 S. Patagonia St., Benson
  • Player to watch: Brandon Laird, FB/LB, Benson. The senior leads the Bobcats with 1,068 yards rushing, 17 total touchdowns and 6.0 tackles per game.
  • Fun fact: Benson reached the Division V state championship game last fall and has posted a 21-3 record over the last two seasons.
  • Prediction: Benson 42, Tombstone 12

No. 16 Bisbee (4-6) at No. 1 Eager Round Valley (10-0)

  • When: Saturday, 6 p.m.
  • Where: 550 N. Butler St., Eager
  • Player to watch: Troy Ferestad, QB, Bisbee. Ferestad, a junior, has done most of his damage with his legs, as he's rushed 160 times for 1,684 yards and 12 touchdowns.
  • Fun fact: The Pumas reached the Division V state quarterfinals last fall, as senior wide receiver Spencer Schuller put together a record-setting season with 26 touchdown catches.
  • Prediction: Round Valley 38, Bisbee 10

— 30 —

Top headlines

Best in Internet Exploder