Second in a five-part series examining the five 11-man football semifinals:
Saturday at Phoenix Arcadia High
No. 7 Lake Havasu (11-1) vs. No. 3 Tucson Pusch Ridge (11-1) 2 p.m.
Pusch Ridge is one of the more amazing stories in the state, after moving up this year from Division V. Nobody expected Pusch Ridge to be here. But tight end Ben Walker saved the day last week, catching a tipped ball in the end zone from 30 yards out with 20 seconds left to beat defending state champion Mohave Valley River Valley 13-10. Pusch Ridge will try to ride that momentum into this semifinal showdown against a team that gave Show Low its only loss last week. Lake Havasu is led by running back Jacob Kalognis, but he has been injured. Lake Havasu had to rely on quarterback Jack Warner in the 34-27 win over Show Low. Warner passed for 362 yards, completing 26 of 39 passes. That’s a big plus for Lake Havasu because Pusch Ridge is tough against the run. Lake Havasu was expected to have a great season after moving down two divisions. Pusch Ridge, despite having the higher seed, looks like the underdog. But it’s heart can’t be measured.
Prediction: Pusch Ridge 20, Lake Havasu 18
No. 8 Phoenix Northwest Christian (10-2) vs. No. 5 Snowflake (11-1) 6 p.m.
Northwest Christian has been riding the hot hand of QB Drew Inness, who threw eight touchdown passes in the first two rounds of the state playoffs. Northwest Christian’s stunning 48-0 rout of No.1-seed Yuma Catholic had everybody talking about the Crusaders now living up to the preseason hype of being the team to beat. The defense never looked better, forcing five turnovers. Coach Dave Inness has his team peaking at the right time. But Snowflake’s defense is waiting. It returned eight starters from last year’s state runnerup team. It did a great job containing Estrella Foothills running back Joe Logan, who had 66 of his 96 rushing yards on one play last week. But how is Snowflake’s defense against the pass? This will be the best passing team Snowflake has seen? Snowflake leans on the run game but Tyler Claridge is a capable passer. He has thrown for 21 TDs and run for six more. Zach Solomon leads the Lobos with 949 rushing yards and 10 TDs.
Prediction: Northwest Christian 23, Snowflake 17
Reach Obert at email@example.com or 602-460-1710. Follow him at twitter.com/azc_obert, Listen to the Which Wich High School Football Preview Show every Friday from 6-7 p.m., on NBC Sports Radio AM 1060 with Dan Manucci and Richard Obert.
Arizona’s best high school football coaches: