5A First Round: No. 9 Phoenix Sunnyslope at No. 8 Marana

No. 9 Phoenix Sunnyslope at No. 8 Marana (9-1)

Kickoff: 7 p.m.

St. Mary’s coach: Sam Jacobs (12-9, second year with the Vikings and 33-30 in his eighth year overall).

Marana coach: Phillip Steward (16-4, second year and overall with the Tigers).

When Sunnyslope has the ball:

Run percentage: 48.2 percent (240 rushes)

Pass percentage: 51.8 percent (258 passes)

Phoenix Sunnyslope, which is trying to avoid losing in the first round for the sixth straight year, is led by prolific dual-threat QB Luke Moga (123 of 257 for 2,046 yards with 25 touchdowns and eight interceptions). He has also rushed for … Sunnyslope, losers to Cienega (2019) and Salpointe (2021) in the first round in recent years, has Jackson Sriro as its leading running back with 650 yards on 120 carries. The 5-foot-11 and 215-pounder is like a fullback who gains 5.4 yards per carry. … Two receivers have at least 500 yards — Dillon Dwiggins (34 receptions for 677 yards with eight touchdowns) and Charlie Fiedler (39 catches for 561 yards with four touchdowns). … Marana LB Matthew Jensen is the Tigers’ top tackler with 88 including six for loss. Fellow LB Lee-Vi Nez has 62 tackles with a team-best seven for loss. … Veteran CB Sam Brown is one of the top interception leaders in Arizona with five and fellow CB Jaelen Collins has four.

When Marana has the ball:

Run percentage: 46.5 percent (226 rushes)

Pass percentage: 53.5 percent (260 passes)

Marana, going after its first playoff victory since 2017, has highly-productive and accurate QB Elijah Joplin (162 of 208 — 77.9 percent — for 2,352 yards with 28 touchdowns and four interceptions). … Joplin is also an efficient runner with 285 yards on 51 carries with six touchdowns. … Jensen is the Tigers’ top running back with 721 yards on 85 rushes with 17 touchdowns. … Sophomore WR Dezmen Roebuck, who has a scholarship offer from Arizona, has eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark with 1,005 yards receiving on 71 receptions with 13 touchdowns. Brown and Jason Wood are also leading targets with Brown tallying 651 yards receiving on 31 catches and Wood at 424 yards on 25 receptions. … Sunnyslope LB Gavin Mitchell leads the Vikings with 76 tackles, seven for loss. DE Preston Mosher has six sacks as part of his 10.5 tackles for loss. He has 59 tackles overall. … Sunnyslope has two defensive backs with at least five interceptions — CB Deven Broady with six and CB Jayden Carbajal five.

Common opponents


Series record

First meeting between the schools.


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

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