WEEK NINE (games start at 7 p.m.)
FRIDAY, OCTOBER 14
No. 19 Salpointe (3-2) at No. 14 Mesa Red Mountain (3-2)
Salpointe plays its first 6A East Valley game. The Lancers are in position to make the 6A state playoffs if the season ended today because seven 6A teams comprise the eight-team Open Division. That pushes Salpointe to No. 12 in the 6A state playoffs ratings.
No. 46 Nogales (0-5) at No. 6 Marana (4-1)
Marana’s high-powered offense averaging 42.2 points a game goes against Nogales team that has scored two touchdowns all season entering the 5A Sonoran opener.
No. 21 Buena (4-1) at No. 30 Cienega (1-4)
Cienega is hoping its tough pre-region schedule with games against playoff contenders Millennium, Salpointe, Desert Edge and Marana will play dividends heading into 5A Southern play. Buena’s four wins matches what it produced in 2020 and 2021 combined. The Colts will feature former Tombstone quarterback Aliaz Dyson for the first time after he sat out the first five games due to AIA transfer protocol.
No. 47 Rincon/UHS (1-4) vs. No. 24 Sunnyside (3-2) at Kino North Stadium
Sunnyside has shut out its last two opponents (Ironwood Ridge and Tucson) and has not allowed a touchdown in the last 10 quarters. The Blue Devils will try for three straight shutouts for the first time since 2007. Rincon/University is more competitive this year, losing two of its games by a touchdown.
No. 29 Desert View (2-2) at No. 39 Ironwood Ridge (1-4)
Desert View has to string together impressive wins in the 5A Southern to return to the state playoffs. Ironwood Ridge is coming off its first victory under first-year coach Dale Stott.
No. 33 Mountain View (1-4) at No. 34 Tucson (2-3)
Matt Johnson has experienced running table through region play and making the state playoffs before, doing that in 2019 after the Mountain Lions started 1-4. Tucson High has struggled losing its last two games, including a shut-out loss to Sunnyside last week.
No. 41 Cholla (1-4) at No. 43 Flowing Wells (1-4)
Both teams enter this game on losing streaks — Cholla at three games and Flowing Wells at four.
No. 2 Canyon del Oro (4-1) at No. 33 Douglas (3-2)
Dustin Peace is a win away from reaching 100 career wins (99-48 in 14 seasons at CDO) with the Dorados playing Douglas for the first time since 1997. That was also the last time the Dorados have had to travel to Douglas. The teams were placed in the same region (4A Kino) by the AIA this year. Former Ironwood Ridge running back Jordan Thomas, who rushed for more than 1,000 yards last season, is eligible to play for the Dorados after sitting out the first five games per AIA transfer rules.
No. 27 Sahuaro (2-3) at No. 13 Walden Grove (3-2)
Walden Grove is coming off a 49-42 win at Mountain View in which QB Gabriel Smith threw for 467 yards while completing 23 of 27 passes with five touchdowns and no interceptions. Sahuaro will try to snap a two-game losing streak in the midst of a three-game road stretch against Buena, Walden Grove and Amphi.
No. 21 Pueblo (4-1) at No. 22 Vista Grande (4-2)
Pueblo’s four wins is more than what it won the last two seasons, when it went 3-7 in COVID-19-shortened seasons. Jake Allen, in his third season, announced on social media that all but one of his players gained academic eligibility in the last grading cycle.
No. 44 Amphitheater (1-4) at No. 28 Catalina Foothills (2-3)
Amphi is coming off its first win of the season with a victory over Rincon/University and Catalina Foothills is looking for its second straight 4A Gila title after going 5-0 last season.
No. 36 Rio Rico (2-3) at No. 49 Sahuarita (0-5)
Rio Rico, in its first season under legendary coach Jeff Scurran, is trying to achieve its second winning season in its 25 years of existence. Sahuarita, which has scored four touchdowns this season, will face a Rio Rico team that is coming off shutting out Empire last week.
No. 37 Empire (3-2) at No. 38 Mica Mountain (1-4)
This is the first meeting between the two Vail schools. Empire was down to its third-string quarterback last week against Rio Rico because of injuries. Starter Ethan Goodall is slated to return for this game after missing two games. Mica Mountain is looking to end its four-game losing streak.
No. 5 Chandler Valley Christian (6-1) at No. 2 Pusch Ridge (6-1)
Pusch Ridge, coming off a bye week, needs to keep on winning to maintain a top-four rating and ensure home games in the first couple of rounds of the state playoffs. The teams meet for the first time since Pusch Ridge beat Valley Christian in the first round of the state playoffs in 2014.
No. 6 Sabino (6-1) at No. 3 Mesa Eastmark (6-1)
Sabino faces an arduous two games on the road against Eastmark and Thatcher the next two weeks. If the Sabercats, behind potent dual-threat QB Cameron Hackworth, can win at least one of those two games it can set them up for a top-four finish in the 3A which means they can host the first two rounds of the state playoffs.
No. 37 Phoenix Christian (0-7) at No. 11 Benson (4-3)
Benson has a No. 11 ranking based on its schedule that includes Tombstone, Willcox, Pusch Ridge and Thatcher. This game might affect the Bobcats’ power points but a win will ensure a non-losing record in the regular season under first-year coach Dustin Cluff.
No. 36 Palo Verde (2-5) at No. 38 Tempe (0-7)
Palo Verde hopes to reach three wins — a significant achievement with the program not playing at the varsity level last year because of a lack of healthy eligible players.
No. 25 Tombstone (3-4, 1-1) at No. 6 Willcox (5-2, 2-0)
Willcox’s running combination of Ayden Fuentes and Cristian Pando (1,541 yards rushing combined) will go against Tombstone’s dual-threat QB DJ Elias (995 passing yards and 484 rushing yards).
No. 24 Tanque Verde (3-4, 2-0) at No. 19 Bisbee (4-4, 1-1)
Significant game for Tanque Verde, which is coming off three straight wins over North Pointe Prep (60-0 score), Santa Rita (forfeit) and Catalina (54-0). Bisbee, which beat Tombstone on the road last week, will provide a good challenge for Jay Dobyns’ Hawks.
No. 45 Catalina over NR 2A Santa Rita (Forfeit)
Technically, Catalina’s first win since 2019 when the Trojans beat Tanque Verde 14-12. Snaps a 17-game losing streak.
No. 2 St. David (8-0) at No. 1 Hayden (7-0)
One of the top games in the state, St. David travels to Hayden, which lost 65-20 at St. David to end the regular season last year. Should be another high-scoring game with both teams featuring prolific-passing senior quarterbacks — St. David’s Ryan Gooding (1,460 passing yards and 37 TDs) and Hayden’s Fabian Elvira (1,960 passing yards and 32 TDs).
No. 20 Baboquivari (3-4) at No. 9 San Manuel (6-2)
San Manuel must win to strengthen its bid to make the 12-team 1A state-playoff field. Both teams did not play last week with Baboquivari having a bye and San Manuel winning its game against Ray by forfeit.
No. 23 Valley Union (1-6) at No. 12 Duncan (4-3)
Valley Union will try to end its season on a winning note while attempting to knock Duncan out of playoff contention.
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ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He is a former Arizona Daily Star beat reporter for the Arizona basketball team, including when the Wildcats won the 1996-97 NCAA title. He has also written articles for CollegeAD.com, Bleacher Report, Lindy’s Sports, TucsonCitizen.com, The Arizona Republic, Sporting News and Baseball America, among many other publications. He has also authored the book “The Highest Form of Living”, which is available at Amazon. He became an educator five years ago and is presently a special education teacher at Gallego Fine Arts Intermediate in the Sunnyside Unified School District.