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WEEK 12 – Friday (7 p.m. kickoffs) and Saturday (6 p.m.)
6A EAST VALLEY
No. 23 Mesa Mountain View (2-6, 0-2) at No. 15 Salpointe (5-3, 1-1)
Salpointe is going after its third straight victory behind QB Fredo Sotelo (84-137 for 1,156 yards with 13 TDs and eight INTs) in its last home game of the regular season. … The Lancers are close to being 7-1 and in the Open Division — two of their losses are by a field goal, including an overtime loss at Scottsdale Chaparral to start the season.
No. 27 Desert View (4-3, 2-1) at No. 20 Buena (6-2, 2-1)
For Buena to have a chance to make the 16-team playoff field, it must end with impressive wins over Desert View and Ironwood Ridge to conclude the season and then hope. … The Colts feature the top running back in Southern Arizona — sophomore Andres Bonilla (1,360 yards on 154 yards with 15 TDs).
No. 16 Cienega (4-4, 3-0) at No. 30 Mountain View (3-5, 2-1)
Cienega has the opportunity to win its second consecutive 5A Sonoran title under coach Justin Argraves, who is 8-0 in region games in his two years there. A victory by the Bobcats, especially an impressive one, would boost the Bobcats’ chances to make the 16-team playoff field. … Mountain View is playing the role of spoiler, although a victory over Cienega could put them in the top 25 with another power-point-boosting game next week at Desert View.
No. 38 Ironwood Ridge (1-7, 0-3) at No. 37 Tucson (2-6, 0-3)
This game is for pride and to help either school to avoid finishing last in the region.
No. 8 Marana (7-1, 3-0) at No. 44 Cholla (2-6, 1-2)
Marana dropped one spot in the power ratings after defeating Flowing Wells 55-9 last week and the Tigers figure to be adversely affected by facing Cholla. The Tigers are in the last position to host in the first round of the state playoffs at No. 8 with only two games left despite only one loss this season. … A victory by Marana clinches a region title for the Tigers and coach Phillip Steward, who is in his second season.
No. 41 Flowing Wells (2-6, 1-2) at No. 47 Rincon/UHS (1-7, 0-3)
The two struggling programs are in the process of trying to establish themselves under young coaches Brian Hook of Flowing Wells and Khyree Copeland of Rincon/University.
No. 39 Nogales (2-6, 2-1) vs. No. 26 Sunnyside (5-3, 2-1) at Desert View
After losing 10 straight games dating to last season, Nogales has won two consecutive games heading into its game against Sunnyside. The Blue Devils will conduct Senior Night festivities at Desert View because the turf field at their school has not been installed. … Sunnyside senior QB Deion Conde is close to surpassing 4,000 passing yards in his career. He is at 3,884 in 27 games (completing 295 of 554 pass attempts with 45 touchdowns).
No. 42 Empire (3-5, 0-3) at No. 2 Canyon del Oro (7-1, 3-0)
The Dorados are clinging to the top two spots in the 4A rankings, which can assure them a home game in the first round, quarterfinals and semifinals of the state playoffs if the season ended today. Playing lower rated teams at this stage of the season might hinder that. The Dorados must hope teams they have played win as well these last two weeks.
No. 32 Douglas (4-4, 1-2) at No. 29 Pueblo (4-4, 0-3)
Pueblo has lost two of its region games by a touchdown against Vista Grande and Mica Mountain, otherwise the Warriors could be 6-2 and 2-1. … Both of these 4-4 teams with young coaches Hunter Long of Douglas and Jake Allen of Pueblo are playing for a winning season with two victories to cap the season.
No. 24 Mica Mountain (4-4, 3-0) at No. 23 Vista Grande (6-3, 2-1)
Mica Mountain faces a difficult task to stay on pace with CDO for a potential region championship game next week against the visiting Dorados. … A victory by either team keeps it in contention to make the state playoffs depending on how other schools around them in the ratings fare.
No. 49 Sahuarita (0-8, 0-3) vs. No. 16 Walden Grove (6-2, 3-0) at Sahuarita High School
The Red Wolves are in position to win the region title while winning five straight games by an average margin of victory of 24.8 points yet they are on the fence to make the 4A state playoffs. They dropped four spots from No. 12 to No. 16 after last week’s 46-18 win at Amphi. … This game is considered a home game for Walden Grove despite it being at rival Sahuarita. Walden Grove coach Corey Noble, a Sahuarita grad, does not mind this game annually played at Sahuarita because of the Mustangs’ turf field and larger seating area. More people able to attend enhances revenue for both schools. … The rivals have not played each other since 2015. This is the first region game between the neighboring schools.
No. 22 Catalina Foothills (5-3, 3-0) at No. 27 Sahuaro (4-4, 2-1)
Daniel Sainz’s team has put together a playoff-contending season by winning five of its last six games after an 0-2 start. Sainz has yet to lose a region game in his two years as head coach — the Falcons are 7-0 in those games. Last year, Catalina Foothills did not qualify for the state playoffs despite winning the 4A Gila region. Sainz is hoping that does not happen again. … A step in the right direction will be defeating upstart Sahuaro, which has won its last two games and is attempting to finish with a winning record and chance at the playoffs in Al Alexander’s first season as head coach.
No. 40 Rio Rico (3-5, 1-2) at No. 43 Amphitheater (1-7, 0-3)
Two of the most successful head coaches in Southern Arizona — Jeff Scurran of Rio Rico and Jorge Mendivil of Amphi — will match wits with both of their teams trying to finish the season strong. … Rio Rico has the opportunity to finish at 5-5 by winning this game and a matchup with Sahuaro at home next week. The Hawks have only one winning season in their 25-year history, in 2013 when they finished 6-5. All other seasons have been losing seasons.
3A FIRST ROUND
No. 16 Benson (5-5) at No. 1 Thatcher (10-0)
Benson got in the postseason ahead of Safford, which beat the Bobcats 42-14 on the road a couple of weeks ago. First-year Benson coach Dustin Cluff got his team into the postseason behind a new passing offense, which has been engineered by junior quarterback Dalton Crockett. … Crockett (1,127 passing yards completing 72 of 135 passes with 15 touchdowns) recently suffered an injury and is likely to not play in this highly difficult matchup at Thatcher, which beat the Bobcats 51-0 at home Oct. 7.
No. 14 ALA-West Foothills (5-5) at No. 3 Pusch Ridge (9-1)
Pusch Ridge has a rematch with ALA-West Foothills, which it beat 37-7 in the opening week of the season. The Lions, with seniors Tyler Mustain, Will Way and Bryce Jewell — who have played on the varsity since they were freshmen — are on a mission for a state title after finishing in the semifinals as sophomores and losing in the opening round last season to Thatcher. Mustain was out for that game with a foot injury.
No. 10 San Tan Foothills (7-3) at No. 7 Sabino (7-3)
Sabino junior prolific quarterback Cameron Hackworth is questionable for the game after suffering a shoulder injury at Thatcher on Oct. 21. Hackworth (2,214 passing yards with 133 completions in 202 attempts with 27 touchdowns) did not play in last week’s 55-0 win over Benson at home. … Sabino coach Ryan McBrayer mentioned he is hopeful Hackworth can be cleared to play during the Sabercats’ playoff run.
2A FIRST ROUND
No. 13 St. Johns (6-4) at No. 4 Willcox (8-2)
The best running back tandem in the state this year (and perhaps history) is seniors Ayden Fuentes and Cristian Pando, who have combined for 2,499 yards on 255 rushes with 41 touchdowns. The way they function in the backfield is also a sight to behold with mis-directions and fake handoffs ran to near perfection, always keeping the defenses off-balance. They have competed together since their young youth sports days and the chemistry they show in the backfield is quite impressive.
No. 15 Tanque Verde (5-5) at No. 2 Morenci (9-1)
Jay Dobyns’ program is in the state playoffs for the first time in the school’s 16-year history. After the 55-6 loss week to Willcox in a game that determined the 2A San Pedro title, Dobyns and his staff embraced the players on the field as if saying goodbye. They’ll have at least one last go-around and it will be a difficult one — Tanque Verde lost at Morenci 44-0 in the season opener Aug. 26.
1A SEMIFINALS AT SCOTTSDALE CORONADO
No. 3 Mogollon (8-2) vs. No. 2 St. David (9-1), Saturday, 6 p.m.
This is a rematch of last year’s 1A state championship game, won by Mogollon 58-12. The teams return to the same field, at Scottsdale Coronado, for this state semifinal matchup after facing each other previously in the season. St. David defeated Mogollon 61-44 at home Sept. 16. Mogollon has won five consecutive games since that loss.
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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.