Week 8 high school football First and 10: Vital signs

Week 8 high school football First and 10: Vital signs


Week 8 high school football First and 10: Vital signs


Desert Ridge's Donjae Logan (5) breaks through a hole in the backfield for a first down against Chandler's K.T. Tilini (11) at Chandler High School in Chandler, AZ on September 10, 2015.

Desert Ridge’s Donjae Logan (5) breaks through a hole in the backfield for a first down against Chandler’s K.T. Tilini (11) at Chandler High School in Chandler, AZ on September 10, 2015.

This is a huge week across the state for teams trying to secure state playoff spots.

Two winless teams basically are playing for a Division I state berth.

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Chandler Valley Christian is hoping a tough schedule will help in its biggest Division V game of the season.

There are great story lines everywhere you turn.

Let’s look at 10 of them:

FIND A GAME: Arizona high school football schedule

No. 10 Battle tested

No. 6 Eagar Round Valley (5-2) at No. 17 Chandler Valley Christian (4-3), Friday, 7 p.m.

Valley Christian has been trying to dig its way back into playoff position since losing three of its first five games. It has won two in a row, led by sophomore dual-threat quarterback Alijah Gammage, who will be at his finest against a tough, stingy Round Valley defense that is looking for its first challenge since losing to Glendale Joy Christian 40-29 on Sept. 4.

No. 9 Making a point

No. 10 Tempe Prep (5-2) at No. 7 Eloy Santa Cruz (6-1), Friday, 7 p.m.

If the Division V playoffs opened this week, this would be a first-round matchup. Tempe Prep believes it is much better than a 10 seed. It will try to prove that, behind a strong defense and a smash-mouth offense. Tempe Prep’s two losses were to Division IV unbeaten Snowflake and Phoenix Northwest Christian. The Northwest game was decided in overtime.

Arizona high school football rankings: Week 7

No. 8 Defense oriented

No. 7 Mesa (6-1) at No. 2 Gilbert Williams Field (6-1), Friday, 7 p.m.

Great Division II playoff tune-up for both teams. It’s important for Williams Field not to be looking ahead to next Thursday’s showdown against No. 1 Mesa Skyline. Mesa is big and strong up front with enough skill players to give it trouble. But Williams Field’s defense has made huge strides this season with Noah Gerald having a big year with 10 ½ tackles for losses and 6 ½ sacks.

No. 7 Track meet

No. 6 Oro Valley Ironwood Ridge (5-2) at No. 4 Tempe Marcos de Niza (7-1), Friday, 7 p.m.

Marcos de Niza hasn’t lost since the opener to Division I unbeaten Phoenix Mountain Pointe with senior back Shaun Richards being one of the main reasons why. Richards impacts the game running and catching the football. He has 381 yards and eight TDs rushing to go with 448 yards and two TDs receiving. Ironwood Ridge doesn’t want to enter another track meet after losing 49-42 last week to Queen Creek.

American Family Insurance ALL-USA Arizona high school football performers of the week

No. 6 Cat tracks

No. 11 Scottsdale Saguaro (5-2) at No. 13 Glendale Apollo (5-2), Friday, 7 p.m.

There is little room for error, as these teams are finding out. Saguaro finally put together four solid quarters in a 56-14 rout of Scottsdale Desert Mountain. Saguaro will have to keep giving Kare’ Lyles time to throw. Apollo may not want to go into single coverage with Byron Murphy, Julian Carter and Jared Poplawski all capable of making plays. Making matters more difficult for Apollo is finding a Saguaro team that now has a running game with tailback Stone Matthews getting better each week.

No. 5 Finding footing

No. 13 Chandler Basha (3-4) at No. 1 Chandler Hamilton (8-0), Friday, 7 p.m.

Basha junior QB Ryan Kelley got knocked out late in the third quarter two weeks ago in a loss to Chandler. It was more out of precaution to make sure his spleen was OK, he said. Kelley said he is fine now. He’ll need lots of protection against a tremendous Hamilton pass rush, led by tackle Garrett Rand. Basha has been slipping badly, especially on defense, since starting the season with wins over Liberty and Vail Cienega.

High school football rewind Week 7: Incredible comebacks

No. 4 Southern statement

No. 13 Tucson Catalina Foothills (6-2) at No. 3 Tucson Sabino (7-0), Friday, 7 p.m.

This as good a Southern Arizona game you will find this season. It’s got plenty of intrigue. Catalina Foothills coach Jeff Scurran, who just had his 1992 state championship team inducted into the Sabino Hall of Fame, returns to his old school (he did that already since leaving while he was at Tucson Santa Rita). But Sabino has a chance to make a statement that maybe there is no better team in Southern Arizona this year at any level.

No. 3 Gaining respect

No. 15 Peoria Liberty (2-5) at Scottsdale Chaparral (5-2), Thursday, 7 p.m.

Liberty has won two games in a row can play loose and relaxed knowing it has clinched a Division I playoff sport. Chaparral might still be aching from that double-overtime loss at Peoria Centennial, but it has a defense that will give everybody trouble in the playoffs. Junior linebacker Parker Walton is coming off a remarkable game for Chaparral.

AIA: Each conference will choose playoff-seeding formula

No. 2 Building blocks

No. 6 Mesa Desert Ridge (5-2) at No. 8 Mesa Red Mountain (3-4), Friday, 7 p.m.

Red Mountain is that scary team in Division I that nobody wants to deal with right now. It is starting to play to its preseason potential when people were talking about how big and fast they were. A four-point loss to Phoenix Brophy Prep, an overtime loss to Scottsdale Chaparral, a shootout win over Gilbert Highland and an 11-point victory over Phoenix Desert Vista are momentum builders for a Desert Ridge team that comes in confident after giving Mountain Pointe maybe its toughest game of the season so far.

No. 1 Breaking through

No. 16 Phoenix Horizon (0-7) at No. 17 Anthem Boulder Creek (0-7), Friday, 7 p.m.

Boulder Creek made a statement last week in a 34-33 loss at Phoenix Pinnacle that it refused to end up No. 17. It can avoid that with a win in what essentially is a play-in to the Division I playoffs. There are 17 teams. All but one gets in. Boulder Creek QB Gunther Johnson, coming off 429 yards and three TDs passing, is feeling confident he can get the Jaguars to finally break into the win column.

Reach Obert at richard.obert@arizonarepublic.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.

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