ArizonaVarsity's Top 25 Games: Week 8

Ralph Amsden, Publisher
Arizona Varsity
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Last Week I went 18-7 in my Top 25 picks. I'm now 143-57 overall.

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25)  Chaparral vs Paradise Valley  

So I said last week that Liberty could deal a knockout blow to Chaparral's playoff hopes with win. Liberty won by 50, but Chaparral somehow went up in the playoff standings. Now the pressure's on to beat Paradise Valley and salvage the mathematical gift they've been given.

24)  Corona del Sol vs #15 Gilbert

A massive defensive improvement lat week gave the Tigers a great shot to knock off Desert Vista, but this time it was the offense that sputtered. If Gilbert can put both elements together, they can get a much needed home win against a Corona team that's basically playing with nothing to lose.

23) Dobson vs Mountain View (Mesa)

I had Mountain View faithful giving me grief for not including them in title contender conversations before the season, but here we are in week 8, and the Toros need to beat Dobson to get back to .500. The AIA has the Toros ranked 16th in 6A, and so this is a game where the playoffs could be on the line.

22) #12 Page vs Tuba City

Unless you like chaos, and especially if you're a 3A playoff bubble team, you're rooting for Page in this matchups, so that the winner of the 3A North is ranked in the top 16 by the AIA and doesn't boot someone else out. I don't mind chaos. Here's to Tuba City keeping things interesting on Friday.

21) Cibola vs Kofa

With the way the 6A South is structured, the winner of this game meets the winner of the Tucson/Sunnyside/Rincon round robin for a playoff spot, so while both teams aren't world-beaters, for one Friday night in October, they're playing for their playoff lives.

20) #15 Chandler Prep vs #7 San Tan Foothills

Chandler Prep gave up 9 yards a carry last week, and they're headed into a week where they're facing one of 2A's most potent rushing attacks. This is one of the biggest challenges the young charter school has faced, and you can bet that San Tan Foothills, which has three 50+ point shutouts, won't take it easy.

19) Tolleson vs Millennium

The 6A Southwest is up for grabs, and if Tolleson wants to build on the momentum of their shutout win over Valley Vista and contend for a playoff spot, they have to beat Millennium, who at the moment controls their own destiny in the region.

18) Westview vs Valley Vista

Westview has rebounded form the longest losing streak in school history to actually have an inside track at a playoff appearance. All they have to do is beat Valley Vista, and then they can clinch the 6A Southwest against Millennium next week. Ray Baquero and Valley Vista's massive OL stand in the way.

17) Canyon del Oro vs #9 Walden Grove

Canyon del Oro's offensive struggles continued last week. They can move the ball, but they're only averaging 16 points per game, and are 0-4 against ranked teams. This is a chance to right the ship, as Walden Grove is coming off a blowout loss, but if the same Walden Grove team that beat Pueblo by 32 shows up against Canyon del Oro, the Dorados might have to kiss their playoff hopes goodbye.

17) #9 Apollo vs Kellis

The AIA formula LOVES Apollo, and with a 5-2 Kellis team coming off back-to-back losses visiting on Friday, the Hawks might just boost themselves into the top 4 of the formula with a win. Kellis needs this game to get back into the playoff picture.

16) #10 Peoria vs #2 Sunrise Mountain

Hopefully Peoria has Nate Dobson back at quarterback this week after taking a loss against Greenway without him. If not, this game could get as ugly as the shutout loss Sunrise Mountain dealt to Cactus last week.

15) Sunnyslope vs #15 Maricopa

Sunnyslope has been playing teams tough this season, while they don't score a ton of points with sophomore Niko Haen at QB, they do control the ball quite well and keep games close. Maricopa needs to get out to a fast start and avoid getting bogged down in a messy, physical slugfest.

14) Mingus vs #15 Flagstaff

Mingus has beaten Flagstaff three years in a row, and the Marauders are currently the one thing standing in the way of the Eagles' first 7 win season since 2012, when an 8-2 mark wasn't good enough to justify a playoff appearance.

13) #13 Blue Ridge vs #10 Show Low

Blue Ridge might have had the most impressive win of week 7, and now they hope to keep the momentum rolling as they host Show Low. Blue Ridge is 10-5 in the absurd 15 total matchups the two teams have had over the previous 10 seasons, all coached by Randy Ricedorff. Now we're in the Monte Maxwell era, and the Cougars are hoping to be the ones that win at least 2/3rds of the games from here on out.

12) Arizona Lutheran vs Tempe Prep

Arizona Lutheran beat a shorthanded Scottsdale Christian 8-7 last week, and are hping to carry that momentum over and but the finishing moves on Tempe Prep's season. An Arizona Lutheran win over Tempe Pre might mean ALA's first playoff appearance since 2014, and Tempe Prep's first playoff miss since 2009.

11) Central vs #12 Cesar Chavez

Central can upset the entire balance of the 6A playoff picture, and control their own destiny in the 6A Metro region if they upset Cesar Chavez. You have to love the job Jon Clanton has done at Central- going 6-34 in his first 4 seasons, and 17-10 over the last three seasons. A win over Chavez would be the biggest he's had in 7 years, and give Central an inside shot at a playoff spot.

10) Mountain Ridge vs Boulder Creek

Boulder Creek is close to a playoff spot despite being 2-5, and that's largely due to having the toughest strength of schedule in all of 6A. Will that tough schedule translate into a win over Mountain Ridge? We'll see. No team should be rewarded just for showing up against tough opponents, so in order for Boulder Creek to truly deserve that slot, they're going to need to get a win on Friday.

9) Poston Butte vs #13 Marana

I'm still hanging by a thread on my preseason prediction that Poston Butte would make the 5A playoffs, and it gets tougher this week, because even though I have Marana ranked #15 overall, they're at top 5 team when it comes to talent.

8) #12 Greenway vs Moon Valley

Greenway took down Peoria one week after losing at Casa Grande. So what can we expect from them this week against a Moon Valley team that has also been inexplicably up and down? Nothing less than a great rivalry game with more on the line than both schools have been used to this late in the season in quite some time.

7) #8 Scottsdale Christian vs #5 Gilbert Christian

This game is being billed as the the no flight zone against the launch pad. Gilbert Christian has one of the top-producing passing games in the country, regardless of level, and Scottsdale Christian's secondary has been generating turnovers at an alarming rate. Something has to give.

6) #8 Highland vs #7 Desert Vista

Both teams gave Mountain Pointe a heck of a game. Both teams are trying to get their offense back on track. This is a high stakes game for the Hawks and Thunder, and it could come down to whoever has the ball last.

5) #11 Marcos de Niza vs #7 Seton Catholic

Marcos de Niza's offense might be just now finding its groove, but the defense has been there all year. Seton Catholic needs this test to see if they belong in the conversation as one of the top 5 teams in 4A, or if they're simply the cream of the second-best crop in 4A. In my mind, first team to 24 gets the win.

4) #9 Horizon vs #13 Desert Mountain

Horizon's schedule so far isn't doing them any favors, so this game is the best look at whether or not we can take the Huskies seriously. The Huskies love to run the ball, and Desert Mountain's had trouble with teams that use the run to set up big plays. If Horizon's 10-point-per-game hold up against a potent Desert Mountain defense, it will set up a very compelling final two games of the season against Boulder Creek and rival Pinnacle.

3) #3 Higley vs #5 Cactus

Which is the real Cactus- the Cobras team that scored 51 points in 17.5 minutes against Peoria, or the Cobras team that got shut out against Sunrise Mountain? Whichever is true, Cactus has to avoid Higley's usual first quarter scoring barrage if they want to stay competitive in this matchup of 4A top-5 teams.

2) #1 Mountain Pointe vs #5 Desert Ridge (Thursday)

Mountain Pointe's offensive struggles, if you can call them that, have to give Desert Ridge hope in this Thursday night game against a Pride team that has won four in a row against the Jaguars, including two knockout punches in the playoffs. The Jaguars are young, but they come in averaging 55 points per game over the last 3 contests, and if Mountain Pointe is going to stay #1, they'll need to up their output.

1) #1 Thatcher vs #2 Round Valley

Always love the #1 vs #2 matchups that double as championship game rematches. There's no way this wasn't going to be the #1 game of the week. Both teams are undefeated, both have blown out common opponents, and both have been looking forward to this game since the moment last year's championship game ended with Thatcher on top.

Best of the Rest

Tucson at Ironwood Ridge

Mesa at Red Mountain

North Canyon at Notre Dame

Goldwater at Verrado

Payson at Winslow

Willcox at Santa Cruz

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