Week 8 of the high school football season in Southern Arizona is already upon us with the last week of non-regional play slated for most 4A and 5A schools with games that count toward the standings for all teams starting next week.
AllSportsTucson.com’s Andy and Javier Morales discuss this week’s games and also look at potential coaches and players of the year with the season at the midway point in this week’s Jet Sports Training High School Football Preview Podcast.
Most highly discussed are Desert View’s Robert Bonillas, who has his team 4-0 for the first time since 2016, and Marana’s Phillip Steward, who has the Tigers 4-1 and believing in themselves.
Tanque Verde’s Jay Dobyns, a former Arizona player like Bonillas, is also a top candidate because the Hawks have achieved a school-record four wins in a season. Their previous best win total of three games occurred last year (3-0 with COVID-19-shortened season), 3-7 in 2015 and 2016 under Jeremiah Johnson and 3-5 in 2009 and 2010 under Jim Lawwill when the Hawks were an 8-man team playing at the 1A level.
Other possibilities presently include Dustin Peace of CDO (the Dorados are looking to finish strong at 2-3 after losing the first three games with the addition of transfers Chance Cassell and Kayden Luke), Sunnyside’s Glenn Posey (Blue Devils at 4-1, top challenge for the 5A Sonoran title), Amphi’s Jorge Mendivil (with the Panthers off to a 3-1 start and gearing for a 4A Gila title), Empire’s George Kelly (whose program can be at .500 after six games for only the third time in the last 10 seasons) and Pusch Ridge’s Kent Middleton (13-3 in his second year with the Lions) and Sabino’s Ryan McBrayer (33-12 in his fifth season coaching his alma mater).
Willcox’s Eric Hjalmarson and St. David’s Braden Davis also deserve recognition. Hjalmarson, yet another former Arizona player who played under Dick Tomey, has the Cowboys at 6-0 with their toughest test this season at Pima (4-2) on Friday night. Davis has coached St. David to the 1A South championship and automatic bid into the state playoffs.
Also not to be overlooked is Mica Mountain’s Pat Nugent if he somehow coaches the Thunderbolts to a 3-0 record in their first varsity competition this season. That would be remarkable.
Salpointe’s Eric Rogers is always in the discussion, especially if senior quarterback Treyson Bourguet can lead the Lancers back to the Open Division playoffs for the third straight year.
Flowing Wells’ Scott Cortese has the Caballeros (2-3) in position to be at .500 after this week despite his team being without a home field because of renovations.
Here is the Jet Sports Training High School Football Preview Podcast for games Oct. 7-8:
THURSDAY, OCTOBER 7
5A: Nogales (2-2) at Desert View (4-0)
The Jaguars could find themselves in the Open Division rankings next week and Nogales can make some noise.
1A: Ft. Thomas (1-4) at St. David (5-1)
The 1A South champion Tigers are marching toward a high seed.
FRIDAY, OCTOBER 8
6A: Tucson (1-3) at Westwood (2-3)
First 6A East Valley Region game for both teams. This is a very winnable region with none of the six teams having a winning record.
6A: Pinnacle (1-3) at 5A Salpointe (3-1)
The first power-rankings for 4A, 5A and 6A will be released Tuesday at noon. This is a must-win situation for the Lancers with a trip to play at Desert View coming up.
5A: Flowing Wells (2-3) at Rincon/UHS (1-3)
The Caballeros can draw even for the first time since 2018 and the Rangers need this win to help lessen the blow of a very difficult region schedule coming up.
5A: Cienega (1-3) at Mountain View (1-3)
Both teams are searching for that season-changing victory. Coming back from a 1-4 record will be very difficult with region play on the horizon.
4A: Casa Grande (4-0) at 5A Buena (1-3)
The Cougars have yet to be truly tested so far. A win here could come bring a high ranking. Buena needs to stop the bleeding.
4A: Peoria (1-4) at Canyon del Oro (2-3)
The Dorados can continue their run with three straight wins heading into region play.
4A: Sahuaro (0-3) at Catalina Foothills (1-4)
Look for Catalina Foothills to rebound from two straight losses while the Cougars are hoping to compete with a full roster.
4A: Mica Mountain (1-0) at Douglas (1-2)
The first official road game for the Thunderbolts will be a bit of a drive. Douglas has been outscored 98-7 in the last two games so the Bulldogs will need to find some offense.
4A: Empire (2-3) at Sierra Linda (3-2)
The Ravens can win three games for the first time since 2018.
4A: Greenway (3-1) at Walden Grove (2-3)
Two big losses in a row for the Red Wolves and CDO is coming next week so this game is critical.
3A: Safford (5-1) at 4A Pueblo (2-2)
A difficult match for Pueblo and this is as good as it gets.
3A: Pusch Ridge (5-1) at Sabino (4-2)
Huge game with playoff implications. The winner of the 3A South win get an automatic playoff berth but it will be difficult.
2A: Willcox (6-0) at Pima (4-2)
This one goes back to 1950. Willcox is building for the final week against Benson but the Cowboys have to take care of business first.
2A: Benson (3-2) at Bisbee (3-3)
The Bobcats are looking to rebound from the loss to Pima and Bisbee just happens to be the next team on the schedule. A loss here could severely damage Benson’s seeding.
2A: Santa Cruz (2-4) at Catalina (1-5)
There might not be enough power points left on the schedule for the Dust Devils so each game is now a playoff game for the defending state champions.
2A: Tanque Verde (4-2) at Sequoia Pathway (4-2)
The Hawks already set a school record with four wins and five wins guarantees an even record.
2A: Santa Rita (0-4) at St. John Paul II (2-3)
The Eagles have to travel to Goodyear for this one.
2A: Morenci (5-1) at Tombstone (2-3)
Morenci is the real deal and Tombstone is young.
1A: Valley Union (3-3) at Baboquivari (2-2)
The Blue Devils of Elfrida are on the edge of missing the playoffs and there’s still time for Baboquivari to get back in the playoff picture.
1A: Cibecue (0-3) at San Manuel (5-1)
San Manuel hopes to move up in the rankings for a better seed.
BYE: 5A Cholla (1-4), Sunnyside (4-1), Ironwood Ridge (2-3), 4A Rio Rico (0-4), 3A Sahuarita (1-5). NO GAME: 4A Amphitheater (3-1).
2021 Southern Arizona High School Passing LeadersThe top 2021 passers in Southern Arizona. Stats compiled from MaxPreps provided by coaches and schools. *Denotes Class 1A (8-man football) player.
|*St. David||Ryan Gooding||Jr||2,468||148||232||.638||34||4||12|
|Pusch Ridge||Ryan Fontaine||Sr||1,967||153||219||.699||19||4||11|
|Ironwood Ridge||Tyler Haynie||Sr||1,670||102||176||.580||17||6||11|
|*San Manuel||Nicolas Velasquez||So||1,583||72||126||.571||18||4||8|
|Walden Grove||Jason Stevens||Sr||1,574||110||197||.558||16||8||10|
|Mountain View||William Howell||So||1,389||101||178||.567||12||6||10|
|Catalina Foothills||Connor Smith||Sr||1,263||90||156||.573||14||8||10|
|Desert View||Oscar Barraza||Sr||1,028||43||83||.518||13||4||10|
2021 Southern Arizona High School Rushing LeadersThe 2021 top rushers in Southern Arizona. Stats compiled from MaxPreps provided by coaches and schools. *Denotes Class 1A (8-man football) player.
|*St. David||Talon Haynie||Sr||1,780||192||9.5||28||12|
|Catalina Foothills||Yasuo Bean||Sr||1,554||210||7.4||11||10|
|Santa Cruz||Ricardo Alaniz||Sr||1,309||122||10.7||14||8|
|Ironwood Ridge||Jordan Thomas||Jr||1,006||125||8.0||14||11|
|Pusch Ridge||Javier Grajeda||Sr||947||175||5.4||9||11|
2021 Southern Arizona High School Receiving LeadersThe 2021 top receivers in Southern Arizona. Stats compiled from MaxPreps provided by coaches and schools. *Denotes Class 1A (8-man football) player.
|Walden Grove||Duncan Hoover||Sr||1,021||56||18.2||14||10|
|*St. David||Jake Goodman||Sr||930||49||19.0||11||11|
|Pusch Ridge||Bubba Mustain||So||876||64||13.7||11||11|
|Mountain View||Dillon Arvayo||Sr||749||42||17.8||10||10|
|*San Manuel||Noah Huerta||Sr||692||24||28.8||9||10|
|*St. David||Cody Didion||Sr||560||26||21.5||9||11|
|Catalina Foothills||Cole Revis||Jr||519||22||23.6||2||9|
2021 Southern Arizona High School Tackling LeadersThe 2021 top tacklers in Southern Arizona. Stats compiled from MaxPreps provided by coaches and schools. *Denotes Class 1A (8-man football) player.
|*St. David||Brayden Merrill||LB||Sr||125||15.0||4.5||12|
|Pusch Ridge||Tyler Mustain||LB||Jr||112||8.5||5.5||9|
|Walden Grove||Ronnie Berg||LB||Sr||103||4.5||0.0||10|
|Desert View||Sean Sierra||LB||Jr||101||3.0||5.0||10|
|*St. David||Talon Haynie||LB||Sr||96||20.0||6.0||12|
|*St. David||Conner Curtis||LB||Jr||90||14.0||5.0||7|
2021 Southern Arizona High School Interception LeadersThe 2021 interception leaders in Southern Arizona after Week 12 games. Stats compiled from MaxPreps provided by coaches and schools. * - Denotes Class 1A (8-man football) player.
|*San Manuel||Ralphie Valencia||CB||Jr||10||10|
|*St. David||Jeremiah Toyota-Gill||S||Sr||7||11|
|*St. David||Koy Richardson||S||Sr||6||11|
|Desert View||Enrique Cancio||CB||Sr||5||9|
|*San Manuel||Noah Huerta||CB||Sr||5||10|
|Pusch Ridge||Bubba Mustain||S||So||5||11|
The top five of each classification with the Southern Arizona teams that are ranked in 1A-3A are in bold:
(16-team state tournament bracket) In order to qualify, a school must have played a minimum of six (6) games. Based on region standings, the top team in each region will earn an automatic bid to the state tournament. Remaining teams will be added to the state tournament bracket based on AIA rankings powered by MaxPreps. The 16 teams will be seeded according to AIA rankings. 3A Conference leadership reserves the right to evaluate state tournament participants and bracket seeding based on analytical data. The state tournament will consist of four rounds and be single elimination.
- 3A: Seven (7) automatic bids and nine (9) at-large qualifiers based on ranking
- Valley Christian (6-0)
- Round Valley (6-0)
- River Valley (6-0)
- Show Low (6-0)
- Snowflake (5-1)
11. Pusch Ridge (5-1)
13. Sabino (4-2)
Pusch Ridge and Sabino meet Friday at Sabino in a much-anticipated matchup. The winner should jump close to a top 5 ranking in the state.
(16-team state tournament bracket): In order to qualify, a school must have played a minimum of six (6) games. Based on region standings, the top team in each region will earn an automatic bid to the state tournament. The state tournament bracket will be seeded according to the overall AIA rankings powered by MaxPreps of the 16 teams. The state tournament will consist of four rounds and be single elimination.
- 2A: Nine (9) automatic bids and seven (7) at-large qualifiers based on ranking
- Parker (5-0)
- Arizona Lutheran (5-1)
- Holbrook (5-1)
- Morenci (5-1)
- Pima (4-2)
7. Willcox (6-0)
9. Benson (4-2)
15. Tanque Verde (4-2)
19. Bisbee (3-3)
WIllcox is 6-0 for the first time in 10 years. … Benson is now No. 9 after last week’s loss at home to Pima . … Jay Dobyns’ team is ranked in the top 20 at No. 15 only two years into his tenure after the program was on a 15-game losing streak upon his hire.
(12-team state tournament bracket): In order to qualify, a school must have played a minimum of four (4) games. Based on region standings, the top team in each region will earn an automatic bid to the state tournament. Remaining teams will be added to the state tournament bracket based on AIA rankings powered by MaxPreps. The 12 teams will be seeded according to AIA rankings. Teams seeded Nos. 1-4 will receive first-round byes. 1A Conference leadership reserves the right to evaluate state tournament participants and bracket seeding based on cancellations, head-to-head and common opponents, and may adjust seeding accordingly. The state tournament will consist of four rounds and be single elimination.
1A: Four (4) automatic bids and eight (8) at-large qualifers based on ranking
- Mogollon (7-0)
- Mohave Accelerated (5-0)
- St. David (6-1)
- Williams (6-1)
- Hayden (4-2)
7. San Manuel (5-1)
11. Valley Union (3-3)
14. Baboquivari (2-2)
St. David clinched the 1A South title with its win over previously unbeaten San Manuel last week.
THURSDAY, OCTOBER 14
2A: Tombstone at Pima
FRIDAY, OCTOBER 15
6A: Skyline at Tucson
5A: Salpointe at Desert View
5A: Sunnyside at Marana
5A: Ironwood Ridge at Cienega
5A: Buena at Cholla
5A: Rincon/UHS at Nogales
4A: Canyon del Oro at Walden Grove
4A: Douglas at Amphitheater
4A: Pueblo at Tempe
4A: Sahuaro at Casa Grande
4A: Rio Rico at Empire
3A: Pusch Ridge at Safford
3A: Eastmark at Sahuarita
2A: Tanque Verde at 3A: Sabino
2A: Morenci at Benson
2A: Sequoia Pathway at Santa Cruz
2A: Catalina at Santa Rita
2A: Bisbee at Willcox
1A: San Manuel at Baboquivari
1A: Hayden at St. David
1A: Duncan at Valley Union
SATURDAY, OCTOBER 16
5A: Mountain View vs. Flowing Wells at Tucson, 6 p.m.
BYE: 4A Catalina Foothills