Mountain Lions to face teams from around the state

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MARANA - Mountain View has an interesting schedule for the 2008 season. They play many of the same teams they faced a year ago but have to face teams from Tempe, Phoenix and Yuma again.

For the second straight year the Mountain Lions will meet Tempe's Marcos de Niza. The Padres were 10-2 a year ago and are expected to again be one of the better teams in 5A. It will be a tough opening game for a team breaking in some new players at key positions.

The Lions will hit the road for game two. They head to the Valley to play Phoenix North. Last year North won on a last second Hail Mary.

Last year Mountain View began a seven-game win streak against Yuma Kofa. That was the coming out party for Dan Moore and the Lions hope they are in better shape when they host Kofa this year than when they traveled to Europe a year ago.

Their run of three home games in four weeks concludes when they host Tucson High. Last year the Lions had a pedestrian win over the struggling Badgers. Tucson High should be improved, but Mountain View appears to be the better team on paper.

October starts with one of the toughest games on the schedule. They travel to Salpointe for the first of two road games. Last year the Mountain Lions got the best of the Lancers and the two teams should battle again to be in the mix in the 5A Southern Region. Last year the Lancers were inexperienced and that means this year's edition has plenty of experience. They are led by running back Christian Ramirez, a player who could be among the top running backs in the city.

The second game appears to be an easier test. Mountain View will take I-10 north to Casa Grande. The Cougars are always tough to gauge but the Lions have been the better program traditionally. Casa Grande does return two dozen returning lettermen, but they return from a team that won just a pair of games a year ago.

The Lions next host Buena. The Colts lost a lot of talent off of last year's team, but even with several college-bound players the team from Sierra Vista won just three games last year. They have a new coach and will break in a lot of new offensive players, but should return a good defense.

Last year's game at Sunnyside was one of the best offensive football games in years. Sadly it was marred by a forfeit thanks to an ineligible player. This year's game at Mountain View could be huge for both teams. While both seem to be postseason teams, this could be a vital match-up for seeding purposes.

Sunnyside loses a ton of senior talent, but this is a program that merely reloads, not rebuilds. Although they may not be the clear favorite to win the region, the Blue Devils once again believe they can win the 5A-II state crown.

The Halloween game against Rincon appears to be a respite between two top 5A programs, but thinking that way could be a mistake. The Rangers do not look like world beaters, but they have some talent and by the end of the year could be getting their legs under them.

The season ends with a battle against Ironwood Ridge. Last year the Nighthawks dominated defensively and won the 5A-2 Southern Region crown on the Mountain Lions' home field. This year the league crown could again be at stake when the Lions head to their northside rivals' home field.

The Nighthawks have one of the best defenses in town and their linebacking duo of Jake Fischer and Ray Cottman are a tremendous one-two punch. This game should feature two playoff teams and could mean a whole lot more.