High school football coaches' opinions differ on readying for rematch in playoffs

High school football coaches' opinions differ on readying for rematch in playoffs

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High school football coaches' opinions differ on readying for rematch in playoffs

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Rematch. Revenge. Redemption. The prefix “re-” is going to get quite the workout Friday.

Three marquee state football quarterfinal matchups in Division I and II are rematches of regular-season games:

-At Phoenix College, Phoenix Brophy Prep (10-2) hosts a Mesa Red Mountain (9-2), which handed Brophy its second loss when it edged it 33-31 in the final seconds in Week 4.

-In both a regular-season rematch and a sequel to the 2011 Division I title game, Chandler Hamilton (9-2) welcomes Phoenix Desert Vista (9-2), a team it beat 23-13 to open October but fell to 45-19 in last year’s championship.

-And in Division II, reigning champion Scottsdale Chaparral (8-3) visits Tempe Marcos de Niza (10-1), which sent Chaparral to 0-2 to start the season with an electrifying final-second 29-27 win.

Each matchup has its unique subplots — Brophy is banged up at the skill positions, Chaparral has blossomed after a quarterback change, etc. — but how do coaches deal with rematches in general?

azcentral sports spoke with five of the six coaches involved on how they’ll tackle the challenges..

Motivation

There are two schools of thought when it comes to lighting a fire under a team. Some think if you can use the burn of a close loss to spur your team to victory, do it. Others, like Brophy coach Scooter Molander, say that at the knockout stage, extra motivation should be unnecessary.

“If you have to get your players up to play a quarterfinal game,” Molander said, “you’ve got problems.”

Players at Chaparral, Brophy and Desert Vista haven’t forgotten what happened, just as Hamilton surely had its title game beatdown on its mind when it met Desert Vista earlier in the season.

If you’re going to use redemption as a motivator, then you’ve got to use it smartly.

“I think it clouds the kids’ mind a bit,” Desert Vista coach Dan Hinds said. “Getting them all emotional on a Tuesday. Why?”

That’s a question first-year Chaparral coach Dave Huffine has batted around in his head. His squad has watched tape of its last-second loss to Marcos de Niza, but not the final play, on which Marcos de Niza quarterback Josh Eckley weaved 11 yards through traffic for a score as time expired.

That play could be saved for later, when it showing it would be most effective. However, it also could be sealed away in a vault.

“Friday prior to going over there, I may show that,” Huffine said.

Tape study

What’s the line of demarcation for watching tape? Does film study of a season-opener help against the same team three months later? Some coaches say no.

“More recent stuff,” said Marcos de Niza coach Roy Lopez, who prefers to stick with tape from his opponent’s past three games.

On the other extreme, there’s Hinds. Desert Vista and Hamilton have met six times over the past four years, including four times in the past two seasons. A premium is put on more recent footage, but why overlook something that could give you an edge?

“We took all the tapes we got,” Hinds said.

For Hamilton’s Steve Belles, there’s a point where effort isn’t worth the potential benefits. Belles may go back to watch video of the 2011 title game, but any further back than that is searching for a needle in a haystack.

He’ll stick with Desert Vista’s past three games, along with its trip to Hamilton about a month ago.

“That’s going to give you where they are right now,” he said. “You start diving into last year’s stuff, they just have different people.”

The playbook

Given Hamilton’s and Desert Vista’s shared history, neither Belles or Hinds were surprised that their teams are meeting yet again.

“We shook hands after the game (in October), and we both said we’d probably see each other again,” Hinds said.

Knowing the likelihood of such a rematch, did either coach hold anything back? Both said no.

But all options are definitely on the table now.

“I’m not saying we don’t have wrinkles,” Belles said. “We’ve worked on stuff all year. Will we use it in this game? I’ll be honest with you, the barn door is open.”

Overconfidence

Just as the chip-on-the-shoulder motivation technique may be overrated for the first-meeting loser, so is the danger of overconfidence for the winner.

Marcos de Niza and Red Mountain won in the final seconds. That doesn’t exactly suggest a cakewalk the next time around.

“It keeps us working hard, keeps us focused,” Lopez said.

Hamilton would seem the most susceptible, having downed Desert Vista by a 10-point margin, but Belles isn’t worried. His squad walked into last year’s title game as three-time defending champions and thought it would run roughshod over a Desert Vista team it beat in the regular season, and had a rude awakening.

Lesson learned, he said. Still, in general, he’d prefer to avoid regular-season opponents in the playoffs.

“This is not the case this game because our kids know better, but sometimes you get a sense of security,” Belles said.

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