Division IV and V football quarterfinals are set for Saturday (Nov. 16). East Valley and southern Arizona schools are a part of seven of the eight contests this weekend. The winners advance to the semifinals on Saturday Nov. 23.
Here'a brief look at each matchup by division:
GAMES OF SATURDAY NOV. 16 (all start at 6 p.m.)
DIVISION IV: #9 Safford (9-2) at #1 Show Low (9-2) - Safford got a huge game from quarterback Tyler Shurtz -- 220 yards rushing and five touchdowns -- in taking down Estrella Foothills in the opening round. Safford had a difficult time putting away EFH and will need a better defensive effort to entertain thoughts of taking down Show Low. Show Low is led by quarterback Colby Maxwell with 2,188 yards passing and 28 TDs and running back Dallin Crandell 976 yards rushing. The Cougars have amassed 4,500 yards of offense with nearly a perfect 50-50 split rushing and passing. #5 Coolidge (10-1) at #4 Blue Ridge (9-2) -- Coolidge relies heavily on the backfield tandem of Charles McCarty and Dominick Ellis, who have combined for nearly 2,000 yards rushing. McCarty has scored 22 touchdowns and is also the Bears' top receiver. Blue Ridge has been on a roll since losing a 38-35 decision to Show Low in mid-October. The Yellow Jackets routed Fountain Hills two weeks ago, 53-7. The same Fountain Hills that Coolidge had to rally for a 37-34 overtime win in last week's first round. Blue Ridge offers a balanced attack. Leading the ground game is Chris Johnson. Quarterback Spencer Hall has tossed 15 TD passes and goes often to wide out/return specialist Brennan Schimmel (40 receptions for 862 yards). #7 Winslow (8-3) at #2 Seton Catholic (10-1) -- The teams have one common opponent -- Snowflake. Winslow lost to Snowflake, 46-16 while Seton, which has won eight consecutive games, bowed to Snowflake, 28-23, in early September. The defending D-IV champs have filled a bunch of holes left by graduated seniors and are in the title mix again with a big-play passing attack and a solid run game. Seton quarterback Kyle Johnson has passed for nearly 2,200 yards with 33 TDs and 4 interceptions. Seton has eight receivers with at least two TD receptions and as a team average almost 17 yards per reception. Senior Antonio Campanella is the workhorse back for the Sentinels, with 1,168 yards and 16 TDs. Winslow is led by senior running back Kelly Wood, who missed all of Winslow's games in October, has rushed for 1,070 yards in just seven games. Wood hasrushed for 100 yards or more in five of the seven games he's played. The winner of #6 River Valley (10-1) at #3 Snowflake (9-2) takes on the Winslow-Seton winner in the semifinals. River Valley's lone loss was to D-V Yuma Catholic. Snowflake dropped games to Show Low and Blue Ridge.
DIVISION V: #9 Pusch Ridge (9-1) at # 1 Arizona Lutheran (10-1) -- Arizona Lutheran has lit up the scoreboard, averaging 52 points a game. Quarterback Cameron Haag has thrown for nearly 3,000 yards and running backs Kyle Buchholz and Jesse Zwick have rushed for more than 1,000 each. Throw in tight end-wide out Brady Cook with 58 receptions and it's little wonder why. Pusch Ridge likes to run with Taylor Fitzgerald its standout with 1,200 yards rushing and 17 TDs. #12 Tempe Prep (8-3) at #4 Round Valley (10-1) -- Both teams thrive on running the ball so expect the trenches to decide the outcome. The teams met last year with Tempe Prep winning, 14-0. Ball control paced Tempe Prep's upset of defending champ Northwest Christian last week. Running back Isaiah Brittain rushed for 115 yards and two TDs in the grind-it-out win over NWC. Round Valley didn't tax its running backs much last week with eight different ball carriers. The Elks rushed for 284 yards vs. Benson and their mainstay back is Ethan Workman, who rushed just 10 times for 146 yards. Round Valley also scored a pair of defensive TDs in the 51-6 rout of Benson. #6 St. Johns (10-1) at #3 Yuma Catholic (8-2) -- Yuma Catholic has been able to pick what it wants to do offensively against most opponents and the pass was the choice last week. The Shamrocks rushed for a paltry 36 yards, but threw for 324 in rolling up 57 points against San Tan Foothills. Quarterback Jagan Cleary has plenty of options, led by Carter Rodriguez, Donovan Rooks and Matt Pistone. St. Johns used two TD passes from quarterback Riley Raban and a TD run to blank Williams in the first round last week. Sherod Bride and Garrett Davis lead the Redskins rushing attack. St. Johns only loss came to D-IV Round Valley. #7 Thatcher (9-2) vs. #2 Joy Christian (10-1) at North Canyon HS -- This is a rematch from three weeks ago when Joy Christian knocked Thatcher from the ranks of the unbeaten with a 35-26 win in Thatcher. Joy Christian has made an impressive leap this season from eight-man to 11-man football (Joy was D-VI state champs last year). Thatcher lost its regular-season finale to Morenci, but promptly rectified that by beating Morenci handily in the first round last week. Joy Christian suffered its only loss this season to top seed Arizona Lutheran. The hot hand for Joy Christian of late belongs to running back Tonka Watson. Watson has rushed for 576 yards and seven TDs the last two games.