I think Salpointe has a claim, but at the end of the day, I think the two most well-rounded teams are playing for the title. The Lancers may have the most talent in the state. But, come playoff time, there are other things that matter. Centennial and I-Ridge both are loaded with experienced players who have made deep run in the playoffs. That matters. Salpointe gained big-time experience this year, but I think the two best teams are playing tomorrow, even with Salpointe's 30-14 win over I-Ridge.
The first thing is stop Tyler Williams. He's as dynamic as any player in the state and is the man you have to gameplan for. If he's not able to run and has to sit back in the pocket and throw, that will help Centennial's defense. It's also important to stop Anthony Braunreiter from getting to the second level of the defense and keeping him to short gains. If you get can get the Nighthawks consistently passing, it will put them on the ropes.
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Having already played them in the regular season, I can't imagine they learned a ton new. If anything, they got a reminder to hold down Jalen Ortiz best they can.
He's going to have to have a big one. He's been great in the postseason so far and has really taken this team to a new level. If he's able to get yards like has the first three rounds the Nighthawks have a serious chance in tis game. Look for him to get the ball early to establish a presence and then often if he's effective.
I'm sure I'll leave a few out, but. QBs: Tyler Williams, Adriell Alvarado, Andy Cota and Marcel Renteria are a few. RB's: Johnny Pena, Anthony Braunreiter, Dominique Drake, Brian McCarty, Kevionte Alexander and Chris Snodgrass. WR's: Cameron Denson, Matt Bushman, Luke Holley and Isaiah Clayton.
Interesting. This is a different type of one-dimensional offense than the one CDO had in 2010 when it lost to Scottsdale Saguaro. That team clearly couldn't pass and if Ka'Deem Carey was off, it was going to be tough. This I-Ridge team can hit swing passes all game with Jake Matthews and I think having two such different runners like Williams and Braunreiter makes them not so one-dimensional. But, it couldn't hurt to hit a few passes tomorrow.
Buena will have the best D1 team next season and should have no problems making the playoffs. I'd also expect Tucson to make it next season.
I'm not ready to answer that quite yet. But, if I had five finalists at this point, they'd likely be (in no particular order): Mountain View's Clarence McRae, Nogales' Vince Villanucci, I-Ridge's Matt Johnson, Walden Grove's Chris Sargent and Buena's Ryan Scherling.
The top is Centennial RB Jalen Ortiz. He's a UCLA commit and should be a big-time player at the next level. The Coyotes also have a defensive end, Marcus Farria, who is committed to Washington. He's big (6-5, 225) and athletic. He has a knack for making plays and should do some good things for the Huskies at the next level. I also believe Tyler Williams is a college player and should still garner a few more offers before signing day.
Not ready to pick that yet, either. Tyler Williams, Cameron Denson, Dominique Drake and several others will get consideration.
Very good with a chance to be better than this season. Denson and Cota will be fun to watch.
I'm not there sure is a program like that down here right now. I expect Foothills to be improved next season, because they will get a big-time coach and start building a program. Also, no way their schedule could be as hard as this season. Also, continue to see Mountain View and Marana continue to build.
I write about this a little bit in Saturday's paper, but one thing Johnson does that certainly works for this team is keep them loose. He tells the team a joke before they take the field and really tries to get them to enjoy football and have some fun. The other thing he does a great job of is getting his team to focus on the right things. Last week, there was not one player who was looking down at the Marcos de Niza side of the field and saying "we're overmatched." They don't give a lot of thought about the opponent and instead, worry about what they are doing. It's a great approach.
I like this question. If I had to pick one program, I think I'd go with Cienega. If the Bobcats still went 8-3 this season after losing 18 starters off a state runner-up team, they will always be a threat. Ironwood Ridge, Salpointe and Sabino will also continue to win games, I'd bet.
Alright, I've been saving this question all night. Let's finish on it...
The smart pick is Centennial. The Coyotes have clearly hit their stride since the four-point loss to Ironwood Ridge and there's no way you can expect them to make as many mistakes tomorrow as they did the first time. They have more talent and a coach who has won three state titles. All that said, I think the Ridge has something special going. I think the finish it off tomorrow with a win and win the first state championship in school history. I'm going Ironwood Ridge 30, Centennial 28. Have a great night everybody.