As we turn into Week 4 of the high school football season, there have been wonderful impressions turned in by some unsuspecting players and teams.
Eloy Santa Cruz, Tempe Corona del Sol, El Mirage Dysart, Glendale Raymond S. Kellis, and even Gilbert Perry, have been somewhat of a shocker leaving strong impressions in the early going.
Let’s take a look at 10 story lines for this week:
FIND A GAME: Arizona high school football schedule
No. 10. Lightning strikes
Buckeye Verrado (2-0) at Glendale Raymond S. Kellis (2-1), Friday, 7 p.m.
Yes, Kellis really is 2-1, after going 0-10 last season and 2-8 in 2013. But it is coming off a 61-34 loss to Avondale Agua Fria, and things don’t get easier with determined Verrado just wanting to play games right now after the Tucson Sabino game was canceled two weeks ago by lightning. Sophomore running back Josiah Bailey had his big breakout moment last week, rushing for 217 yards and three TDs on just 10 carries in the loss to Agua Fria.
No. 9. London town
Lakeside Blue Ridge (3-0) at Florence (2-1), Friday, 7 p.m.
For the second week in a row, Florence has to go through a White Mountains power. Last week, Florence’s potent offense wasn’t enough against a Show Low offense that had more 300 passing yards in a 64-33 Florence loss. Blue Ridge coach Bob London has quickly righted the ship at Blue Ridge, where he was a long-time line coach before taking over the reins this year after last year’s aberration of a season.
Updated Arizona high school football rankings:
No. 8. Stetson in style
Yuma Catholic (4-0) at El Mirage Dysart (3-0), Friday, 7 p.m.
Tyree Taylor has passed for 551 yards and seven TDs and run for 143 yards and four TDs in Dysart’s 3-0 start. But he will face biggest challenge against the two-time defending Division V champion that, so far, has made a smooth transition up in divisions, behind big Stetson Stallworth, coach Rhett Stallworth’s nephew, who has passed for 1,167 yards and 12 TDs with two interceptions, after moving in from Las Vegas Bishop Gorman.
No. 7. New kids
Chandler Valley Christian (2-1) at Queen Creek American Leadership (3-0), Friday, 7 p.m.
American Leadership is one of the new kids on the fast-growing Queen Creek block with junior running back Jermiah Boyd (47 carries, 515 yards, 10 TDs) leading the way. But Valley Christian is old school with former Cardinals QBs coach Jeff Rutledge letting sophomore QB Alijah Gammage steering a balanced attack.
No. 6. Cruz control
Eloy Santa Cruz (3-0) at Bisbee (2-1), Friday, 7 p.m.
Santa Cruz, already equaling its win total from last season, is looking to continue its defensive dominance. After forcing seven turnovers against Coolidge in a 21-14 win, the Dust Devils had an extra week to prepare for Bisbee’s big guys up front. The Pumas will try to control the clock, running behind maybe the biggest offensive line in Division V.
Best of Arizona high school football:
No. 5. Down is up
Tucson Sahuaro (2-1) at Tempe Corona del Sol (3-0), Friday, 7 p.m.
Corona del Sol has benefited greatly from the move down to Division II, but, after losing its last nine games last season, the Aztecs really haven’t found a formidable foe – until now. Sahuaro is coming off a quality 42-21 win over Oro Valley Canyon del Oro. It is always athletic and flies to the ball. Corona del Sol will see how it’s pound-and-ground style stacks up after Cameron Brice ran for three TDs in a rout of Sierra Vista Buena last week.
No. 4. Back on track
Chandler Basha (2-2) at Phoenix Mountain Pointe (3-0), Friday, 7 p.m.
Basha needs to get junior quarterback Ryan Kelley going after he has struggled the past two weeks. But it doesn’t get any easier against one of the toughest secondaries in the state. Basha’s defense will have a tough time containing Mountain Pointe QB Jack Smith, who gets the Pride offense rolling with his legs.
No. 3. Hatched plan
Scottsdale Chaparral (2-1) at Gilbert Perry (4-0), Friday, 7 p.m.
Perry has been one of the biggest surprises so far, but this is its first big Division I challenge. Chaparral has scraped by with defense with a true big-time play-maker yet to emerge to dial it up. Perry quarterback Gabe Tomaszewski has shown an ability to lead a team, passing for 679 yards, while linebacker Case Hatch (seven tackles for losses) leads a fired-up defense.
No. 2. Rivalry week
Queen Creek (2-1) at Gilbert Williams Field (2-1), Friday, 7 p.m.
Both former Division III teams’ losses came against Division I teams – Queen Creek falling to Chandler Hamilton 31-14 and Williams Field losing to Phoenix Desert Vista 31-7. Queen Creek relies on a strong run game but is settling in well with quarterback Kaleb Honea. This is one of the best rivalries, always close, tough games. Last year, Williams Field won 17-10.
RECRUITING: Complete Arizona high school coverage
No. 1 Big ballin’
Phoenix Brophy Prep (4-0) at Phoenix Pinnacle (2-1), Friday, 7 p.m.
Now we’ll see how much better Pinnacle and freshman QB Spencer Rattler have gotten since the season-opening 56-10 loss to No.1 Chandler in the Zero Week. Brophy senior defensive end Connor Murphy will try to quickly introduce himself to the young gun. Some believe Rattler has already arrived. He can really show that he has with a big performance that belies his youth.
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.
On the sidelines at Arizona high school football games: