This week I'm doing something different in regards to the HS Gametime Game of the Week. The wrinkle comes because it's no longer the regular season where a loss is something to examine and regroup for the following week. Oh noooooooooo!! A loss and the team's 2008 season is over hand out the team awards, and start preparing for spring football. Every Southern Arizona team in the playoffs is playing a team from the Phoenix area; and out of all 13 playoff games - 9 are right here in town. Here's my take on a few games that should get the first round of the post-season off to a fast start.
In 4A Division II Amphi (6-4) earned an 8th seed getting to the playoffs for the first time since 2004. They had a tough road up to this point and now it only gets tougher. Their opponent, the Mingus Marauders, have been a mainstay in the 4A D-II playoffs recently finishing runner-up in 2005 and 2007. Mingus sports an 8-2 record along with the Grand Canyon Region championship. Amphi head coach Vern Friedli will look to his defense to set the tone followed by running back Chris Johnson and the offense methodically forcing their will with the running game.
4A Division I has very intriguing match-ups with #6 Canyon del Oro (9-1) hosting #11 Prescott (7-3), #10 Apache Junction (8-3) visiting #7 Cienega (8-2), and #14 Catalina Foothills (6-4) going north to #3 Paradise Valley (8-2). 8th seeded Sabino (8-2) has #9 Cactus (7-3) coming to the northeast side of the Old Pueblo, and according to this reporter this game has potential fireworks written all over it. Cactus is 9-0 (inclu. playoffs) against Southern Arizona teams since 2004, but only beat Sabino in the 2005 State Championship at Arizona Stadium. Both teams have state title aspirations and considering they saw early first round exits last year you know the last 12 months have been all about getting to this game.
The Tucson Badgers got over the winless hump this season, and have made their way to the playoffs. Bad news is they have to go to Mesa and take on undefeated/top-seeded Mt. View and their 10-0 regular season record. Vincent Smith will have his coaching skills tested for the second week in a row, because he has the task of getting his team mentally prepared after dropping the 5A-Division I Southern Region championship to Salpointe 50-3 last week. Speaking of Salpointe (9-1); Dennis Bene and the Lancers have rebounded from last season's 6-5 finish that saw them exit the playoffs in round one. They host 14th seeded Mesa who comes to town with a 6-4 record, but that doesn't mean Salpointe will walk all over their opponent. Mesa finished second behind Mt. View (mesa) in the East Valley region.
Sunnyside (8-2) is the 5th seed in 5A Div-II and they host #12 South Mountain (8-2). Both share the same record, won their respective regions, and fell one round short of a championship appearance in last season's playoffs. The match-ups don't get more even than this, and the good thing for the Blue Devils is that they are at home. Sunnyside is 25-5 (inclu. playoffs) at home dating back to 2004 which I'm sure gives them a lot of confidence heading into Friday's game. I know you can't get to all these games along with the others I didn't get into, so be sure to check out the FOX-11 Sports Force powered by HS Gametime Friday at 9:30pm to see all the results and highlights from this weeks first round games. Enjoy!!!