azcentral sports’ Richard Obert ranks the Top 10 Arizona high school football teams in each division before the 2015 season starts.
Who are the favorites in each division as the season kicks off?
Last year’s record in parenthesis.
FIND A GAME: Arizona high school football schedule
No. 1 Chandler (13-1): The Wolves come at you in waves of overwhelming talent.
No. 2 Chandler Hamilton (12-2): Looking to be king of the road that runs down Arizona Avenue.
No. 3 Peoria Centennial (12-2): Ready for the jump up in divisions with speed, size and skill.
No. 4 Phoenix Mountain Pointe (10-3): QB Jack Smith gives Pride hope with a glint of gold in their eyes.
No. 5 Phoenix Brophy Prep (10-4): A semifinalist last year, this could be the year with top talent across the board.
No. 6 Scottsdale Chaparral (9-4): Another team making solid transition from D.II with loads of talent, especially on defense.
No. 7 Chandler Basha (7-5): Big, athletic line, an improved defense and QB Ryan Kelley make them contenders to the crown.
No. 8 Mesa Desert Ridge (11-2): Defensive swagger will be restored with a great line, led by a tank in D.J. Davidson.
No. 9 Phoenix Pinnacle (10-2): A promising line, good skill players and a growing tradition built by coach Dana Zupke.
No. 10 Peoria Liberty (11-2): Third ranked team making move from D.II, but this is a tough, hard-nosed team, led by linebacker Chase Hulbert.
ALL-USA Arizona preseason high school football team:
No. 1 Scottsdale Saguaro (14-0): The Sabercats, moving up from D.III, picked up a few impact transfers to go along with their arsenal of incredible talent.
No. 2 Marana Mountain View (6-4): Fired up after banned from last year’s post-season.
No. 3 Mesa Skyline (10-2): RB Amarii Keyes holds the key.
No. 4 Gilbert Williams Field (13-2): Like Saguaro, should make smooth transition from D.III.
No. 5 Avondale Westview (8-3): Like Skyline, moved down from D.I, where they were both playoff teams.
No. 6 Tucson Salpointe Catholic (8-3): Defense should be better with DL Justin Holt providing a jolt.
No. 7 Queen Creek (10-3): Bulldogs always find their footing in the trenches.
No. 8 Tempe Marcos de Niza (7-5): Junior QB Nazareth Greer had 3,000 passing yards last year and he is bigger and better.
No. 9 Vail Cienega (11-2): Some rebuilding needed by Pat Nugent the right coach to keep program strong following Nemer Hassey.
No. 10 Phoenix Sandra Day O’Connor (7-5): Eagles will be ballin’ with Bailin Markridge at QB.
No. 1 Goodyear Desert Edge (10-2): Large and fast, program on great run under coach Rich Wellbrock.
No. 2 Paradise Valley (10-2): Passing game will rev up big time.
No. 3 Laveen Cesar Chavez (4-6): Only question mark is QB for a team that could run the table in regular season loaded up against Phoenix Union district teams.
No. 4 Tucson Sabino (7-4): This team will be able to pass and run with anybody with an improved defense.
No. 5 Peoria Sunrise Mountain (9-2): A bigger, faster Chase Cord will have offense running on all cylinders.
No. 6 Peoria (9-2): Returns enough weapons to make a run at state.
No. 7 Glendale Cactus (9-3): QB Preston Guerra is capable of leading this team far.
No. 8 Scottsdale Notre Dame Prep (4-6): New coach Mark Nolan has quickly infused a winning attitude that should make the Saints a state contender in move down from D.II.
No. 9 Tucson Catalina Foothills (7-4): Coach Jeff Scurran is overdue to make a playoff run and with a more veteran team, this could be the time.
No. 10 Phoenix Sunnyslope (11-1): Vikings’ only two losses the past two seasons came in the playoffs, but the schedule gets more challenging, even with move down.
High school football preseason practice photos:
No. 1 Phoenix Northwest Christian (10-3): Jump up from D.V will only motivate focused, strong group.
No. 2 Lake Havasu (8-3): Moving down two divisions from a team that went 8-3 suddenly puts Knights into championship conversation.
No. 3 Snowflake (12-2): Coach Kay Solomon will have 8 returning defensive starters to steady a strong team left in good shape by Ron Tenney.
No. 4 Show Low (5-7): Lobos can’t wait to get the bad taste of a losing season out of their mouths.
No. 5 Goodyear Estrella Foothills (8-4): This could be RB Joe Logan’s big run.
No. 6 Yuma Catholic (14-0): Won’t be dominant like it was in D.V, but it will be in the conversation in the end.
No. 7 River Valley (13-1): It’s going to be an even longer run to the final without bullish back Brandon Long.
No. 8 Blue Ridge (5-6): Expect bounce back year with longtime line coach Bob London now in charge.
No. 9 Florence (6-5): Coach Bill McKane standing up for his son Steven’s legacy.
No. 10 Coolidge (10-2): Always a stable of backs to keep the Bears in the hunt.
No. 1 Glendale Joy Christian (9-3): Possesses a Division I passing game with QB Matt Mitchell tossing spirals to Isaiah Goodspeed and Dujuan Lawrence.
No. 2 Tempe Prep (12-2): Building off first state championship game appearance with tough, resilient players.
No. 3 San Tan Foothills (8-2): New coach John Sanders making Sabercats synonymous with swagger.
No. 4 Eagar Round Valley (11-1): Only loss last year was to Northwest Christian, which is now the No.1 team in D.IV.
No. 5 Arizona Lutheran Academy (10-3): Graduated a great deal but it always reinvents itself to be a title contender.
No. 6 Chandler Valley Christian (7-4): Deepest team since Jeff Rutledge took over program two years ago.
No. 7 Scottsdale Christian (5-6): Coach Chuck Gibbs has brought stability, accountability and energy to program.
No. 8 Bisbee (6-4): The Puma will ground and pound teams.
No. 9 Phoenix Christian (3-7): New coach Adam Olson will unleash RB/LB Matt Hocking in move down two divisions.
No. 10 Queen Creek American Leadership Academy (9-2): Baby steps could turn into monster steps for fifth-year program.
Arizona’s high school football factories:
Division VI (8 man)
No. 1 Heber Mogollon (10-0): Coming off an unbeaten championship season, the Mustangs return seasoned QB Brock Slade and dominant defender Baylend Stephens.
No. 2 Bagdad (10-1): Driven after perfect season ruined by Mogollon 14-8 in the championship game.
No. 3 Gilbert Christian (9-2): QB Caleb Young should be ready to take over after getting lots of work last year as backup.
No. 4 Williams (5-5): Has playmakers as it transitions down from 11-man Division V.
No. 5 Pima (8-2): Still trying to prove it can get past the semifinal hump and win the gold ball.
No. 6 Superior (6-4): Hopes to get beyond the quarterfinals behind QB Nicholas Ochoa and RB Edgar Pacheco.
No. 7 NFL Yet (6-1): Wants to make grand splash in first year as AIA member.
No. 8 Phoenix Valley Lutheran (8-2): Big target Elijah Bowie might be best athlete in 8-man ball.
No. 9 Elfrida Valley Union (7-3): Jaret Luzania returns looking to surpass 1,000 rushing yards again.
No. 10 Kearny Ray (6-4): Will find out quickly how good it is with games vs. Gilbert Christian, Valley Union and St. David to start.
Reach Obert at firstname.lastname@example.org or 602-460-1710. Follow him at twitter.com/azc_obert