First of five-part series examining the five, 11-man divisional football quarterfinals.
Which teams will advance to the semifinals?
Richard Obert breaks down and predicts the games.
Saturday 6 p.m.
No. 8 Miami (9-2) at No. 1 Benson (11-0)
The greatest Miami season in 24 years extended another week, but it likely stops here against a polished, defensive-minded Benson team that won’t be so generous. Benson has shut out six opponents and has not allowed more than two touchdowns in a game. Benson keeps bodies fresh with a committee of running backs, led by Brandon Laird, who has 654 rushing yards. Benson wears on teams and controls the clock. Expect another grind-it-out game.
Prediction: Benson 35, Benson 12
No. 12 Eloy Santa Cruz (9-2) at No. 4 Queen Creek American Leadership (10-1)
Here is a chance for American Leadership to avenge its only loss, 14-12, on Oct. 9. In that game, QB Dallin Edwards was limited to 88 passing yards and 89 rushing yards. ALA had only 157 rushing yards. ALA was without leading rusher Jermiah Boyd. He is a difference maker. Santa Cruz’s only other loss was by a point in overtime to Tempe Prep. This is a tough, fast, physical Santa Cruz team that recalling the school’s glory years. But Boyd’s return will make a huge difference.
Prediction: American Leadership 19, Santa Cruz 18
Arizona’s best high school football programs:
No. 11 Tempe Prep (8-3) at No. 3 Eagar Round Valley (9-2)
Tempe Prep might want to bring the thermos because if is anything like last week at Round Valley, it will be bitter cold, temperatures possibly dropping into the 20s. Round Valley not able to use its dome this season might end up being an advantage for the locals, who love playing that physical, smash-mouth brand that Tempe Prep possesses. With junior QB Kyron Woolf back in charge, Round Valley’s offense is much more potent. But Tempe Prep is driven and on a mission after falling short in the state final last year.
Prediction: Tempe Prep 20, Round Valley 18
No. 7 Bisbee (8-2) vs. No. 2 Glendale Joy Christian (10-0) at Phoenix North Canyon
This is the biggest team Joy Christian has faced. But Joy Christian has too much speed with two of the best receivers, Dujuan Lawrence and Isaiah Goodspeed, incredible weapons at efficient quarterback Matt Mitchell’s disposal. Last week, coach Brian Cole changed up his offense, going Wing T and running the ball for big plays in a 69-14 rout of St. Johns. Watch for Cole to mix up the offense again. He is the master of playoff surprise.
Prediction: Joy Christian 48, Bisbee 28
Arizona’s best high school football coaches:
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.