Time for high school football awards

Time for high school football awards

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Time for high school football awards

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One last look at the just completed high school football season …

Team of the Year

There were some strong contenders — Chandler Seton Catholic, Queen Creek, Morenci — but my vote goes to Glendale Joy Christian, which went 11-0 and won the Division VI championship.

Why Joy Christian? Well, it outscored its opponents 666-128. More impressively, it rolled through the postseason, beating Joseph City, Phoenix Valley Lutheran and Pima by a combined score of 194-72. No other team, including Chandler Hamilton, was as dominant.

Yes, as a private school, Joy Christian has inherent advantages over public schools that play eight-man football. But that shouldn’t take away from what coach Brian Cole and the Eagles accomplished this year.

The rest of Division VI can take solace in one fact: Joy Christian is moving up to Division V next season.

It won’t be missed.

Coach of the Year

This was a toss-up between Queen Creek coach Joe Germaine, Oro Valley Ironwood Ridge’s Matt Johnson, or Seton’s Rex Bowser, who led the Sentinels to the Division IV championship.

The pick is Bowser, for a couple of reasons. First, Seton lost starting quarterback Ryan Bresnahan (thumb) for six weeks, yet still navigated through the season with only one loss. Second, the Sentinels did what many thought impossible: Beat traditional Division IV powerhouses Show Low and Lakeside Blue Ridge in consecutive weeks to win the state title.

That daily-double is, in my mind, what separated Bowser from Germaine, who led Queen Creek to a 14-0 record and the Division III state championship, and Johnson, who put on a coaching clinic as Ironwood Ridge dismantled Peoria Centennial for the Division II title.

Player of the Year

There is no right answer here. At least a dozen players put up great numbers and had a huge impact on their team. Any of them — Scottsdale Desert Mountain’s Mark Andrews, Phoenix Thunderbird’s Kani Benoit, Centennial’s Jalen Ortiz, etc. — would be worthy of the award.

But we’ll go with Queen Creek running back Matt Guida, who ran for 2,828 yards, 31 touchdowns and averaged a ridiculous 13.5 yards per carry.

Guida was Queen Creek’s offense. The Bulldogs averaged fewer than 150 yards per game passing, yet Guida was dominant despite being the focal point of every defense he faced.

Biggest surprise

No debate here: It was Nogales, which entered the Division III playoffs as an afterthought No. 14 seed, but then upset undefeated Tucson Sabino in the first round and beat Peoria Sunrise Mountain in the quarterfinals to reach the state semifinals for the first time in school history.

The consolation prize goes to Ironwood Ridge. Raise your hand if you thought Ironwood Ridge would beat Centennial twice this season and absolutely pulverize the Coyotes in the state championship game.

Liar.

Biggest disappointment

Without question, the six state championship games: Only one of them — Queen Creek’s 9-7 victory over Goodyear Desert Edge — was in doubt until the final minute. Five of the six games were decided by at least 14 points.

Best decision

Give the Arizona Interscholastic Association — and, in particular, its legislative council — credit for understanding that the computer scheduling model used the past two seasons just didn’t work.

Going to smaller sections, allowing teams to appeal down for the two-year scheduling block starting in the fall of 2013 and giving schools the opportunity to schedule their own freedom games will make for a more competitive landscape and restore true region/section champions.

(I’ve heard from enough coaches and athletic directors to know that hanging those banners in the school gymnasium is a big deal.)

I just wish the AIA would have taken one more step and forced the most successful programs up a division.

Worst decision

Doubting Hamilton, after the Huskies were blown out by Phoenix Desert Vista in the 2011 state championship game and then opened this season with two consecutive losses.

The only program that can topple Hamilton is a complacent Hamilton.

And finally…

Get well, Coop. The football season — and Friday Night Fever — isn’t the same without you.

Reach Bordow at scott.bordow@arizonarepublic.com or 602-444-7996. Follow him on Twitter at Twitter.com/sBordow.

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