High school football rivalries come in all shapes and sizes, from Globe and Miami squaring off to Hamilton and Chandler playing for city pride and a state championship. They all share the same ingredients, though: The stands are packed, the game has extra meaning and the anticipation that night is different than any other Friday.
Here are five rivalry games that will fulfill all those requirements this fall and five games that should be on the schedule every year, regardless of classification.
Hamilton at Chandler, Oct. 30
What a way to end the regular season, with inarguably the best big-school rivalry in the state. Hamilton was Chandler’s puppet-master until Wolves quarterback Bryce Perkins came along and led Chandler to the Division I state championship last year, beating — and how sweet it was — Hamilton in the title game. This could be for the No. 1 seed in the playoffs. Even if it isn’t, who cares? This game is as good as it gets.
Chaparral at Centennial, Oct. 9
For years, Chaparral and Centennial engaged in a turf war for Division II supremacy. Now, their battle will continue in Division I. Neither school wanted the move up, but the rivalry isn’t diminished. These are two of the top 10 programs in the state, regardless of classification.
Mountain Pointe at Desert Vista, Oct. 2
OK, so the battle has been increasingly lopsided the past few years but the Ahwatukee Bowl always delivers the passion from each team, the student body of each school and the respective communities. These kids grew up playing with and against each other and they desperately want bragging rights for a year.
Northwest Christian at Yuma Catholic, Oct. 23
The two teams went at it like heavyweights for the Division V title the past few years and their move up to Division IV won’t weaken the game’s importance, even if they’re no longer locks to make a deep postseason run. Plus, there are few better coaching matchups than Yuma Catholic’s Rhett Stallworth vs. Northwest Christian’s Dave Inness.
Show Low at Blue Ridge, Oct. 16
Arguably the best rural school rivalry in the state. Show Low and Blue Ridge aren’t what they were even a few short years ago but the White Mountain community still treats this game as if it’s the most important three hours of the year. And is there a better kickoff to any rivalry game than the mascots being lowered to the field by a helicopter?
FIVE GAMES WE SHOULD BE ANTICIPATING
Saguaro vs. Chaparral
Yes, I know. Chaparral is in Division I, Saguaro in Division II. I don’t care. These two teams should be playing each other every year, no matter what.
Chandler vs. Mountain Pointe
I understand why Chandler and Mountain Pointe wouldn’t want to bash heads in the regular season but their games have been so entertaining that I’m imploring someone, anyone, to fix this oversight and give us another 45-42 Friday night.
Hamilton vs. Mountain Pointe
The two preeminent programs in Division I over the past five years. Please play each other. Pretty please, with a cherry on top.
Desert Ridge vs. Skyline
There is absolutely no good reason these two schools, separated by just two miles, aren’t playing each other. Coaches Jeremy Hathcock and Angelo Paffumi used to work together. They need to work together again to get this game on the schedule.
Cactus vs. Thunderbird
When I went to Thunderbird back in the days of dinosaurs, Cactus always was considered one of our main rivals, if not the most important rivalry. Both schools are in Division III and they’re within a 10-minute drive, yet they won’t meet on the football field this fall. Sorry, but that’s not acceptable. Make this the first game on the docket every season.