Final thoughts on a football season gone by …
Our eyes didn’t deceive us
Sometimes, August games aren’t an accurate predictor of how a season will play out. For example, Chandler Hamilton lost its first two games last year — to Phoenix Mountain Pointe and Sherman Oaks (Calif.) Notre Dame — yet went on to win the Division I championship.
This season, however, the out-of-state matchups gave us a road map to the state titles. Mountain Pointe’s dominating victory over Las Vegas Bishop Gorman in the Barry Sollenberger Classic stamped the Pride as the team to beat, and over the next three months it reaffirmed that status every week.
Meanwhile, Tucson Salpointe Catholic’s 48-7 rout of Henderson Liberty (Las Vegas) — a team Hamilton would struggle to beat a month later — let everyone know that the Division II title would run through the Old Pueblo. Sure enough, Salpointe was unbeatable, going 14-0 and outscoring its opponents 697-101.
Lesson learned: Pay attention in August
What does he do for an encore?
It almost went unnoticed here in the Valley, but Pinetop-Lakeside Blue Ridge coach Paul Moro added to his incredible legacy when Blue Ridge beat River Valley, 17-7, in the Division IV championship game. It was Moro’s 13th title since 1987. Do the math, and that’s one title every two years.
Earlier this year, rumors surfaced that this would be Moro’s final season in the White Mountains. Moro declined to address his status after the title game, but a new challenge — whether it’s a high school job in the Valley or on Todd Graham’s staff at Arizona State — might invigorate him.
My guess: Moro leaves only if he gets a college job. After all, how many coaching positions in the Valley are better than the one he has now?
Moving on up
When the next two-year scheduling block begins, let’s hope the Arizona Interscholastic Association forcibly promotes some teams or those schools take it upon themselves to move up a division.
Scottsdale Chaparral is an obvious candidate — it belongs in Division I — and so is Yuma Catholic, which has played in three of the past four Division V championship games and won two titles. As a private school, Yuma Catholic can attract kids from anywhere in Yuma County, giving it a decided advantage over schools like Yuma, Kofa and Cibola.
Yuma Catholic should ask to move up to Division II with the rest of its Yuma brethren.
Give him his due
As I watched Mountain Pointe dismantle Hamilton, 42-19, in the Division I championship game I kept thinking that quarterback Antonio Hinojosa might be the most underappreciated player in the Valley.
Yes, Hinojosa had a punishing rushing attack as a complement and great receivers to work with in Jalen Brown and Timmy Hernandez. Still, his numbers stood out — 69.9 percent completion rate, 32 touchdowns, four interceptions — and more importantly, he seemed to make the big play whenever Mountain Pointe needed him to.
Was Hinojosa one of the state’s top quarterbacks? Probably not. Does Mountain Pointe win the title without him? Absolutely not.
Odds and ends
Best player I saw: Scottsdale Saguaro quarterback Luke Rubenzer. Mesa Desert Ridge’s Taren Morrison had an incredible year, but in the game I watched him he was held in check by Mountain Pointe’s defense.
Rubenzer had just two games in which he threw for fewer than three touchdowns and only once — in the season opener against Chaparral — did he throw more interceptions than touchdowns.
Best game I saw: Mountain Pointe’s 37-27 win over Hamilton on Sept. 27 only because I was stunned by the Pride’s speed and athleticism. I thought then Mountain Pointe was the best team I’ve seen in years.
Best and worst moment: It happened on the same day. I was overwhelmed by the graciousness of the Hopi people when I drove up to Keams Canyon to report on the death of senior Charles Youvella. Later that night, however, I listened as Youvella’s father, Wallace, bravely stood up and talked about his son in the memorial service.
As a father of two children, I could almost feel the pain he was in.
Reach Bordow at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at Twitter.com/sBordow.