Another crazy week of playoff football with some wild finishes and a few upsets, as well. We also saw the first ever Open Division games played, including one I covered in the west Valley.
So Long, Centennial
It isn’t often you see a team take the fight to the two-time defending 5A state champions but let’s not kid ourselves any longer: Hamilton is back.
The celebration is on for Hamilton after beating Centennial in the Open Division semifinals. No. 7 Huskies will take on No. 3 Saguaro next week in the semifinals #VXLive pic.twitter.com/B6OdBmnTqa
— Zach Alvira (@ZachAlvira) November 16, 2019
Two weeks after pushing Chandler to the brink, the Huskies outplayed, out schemed and out coached the Coyotes on their home field in a decisive 28-19 win, setting up a date with Saguaro in the Open 8 semi-finals next Saturday.
One thing which certainly hurt the ‘Yotes and certainly helped the Huskies was strength of schedule and despite giving Mater Dei a fight for a half, I never got the sense Centennial was going to advance Friday. Playing an overmatched 5A slate didn’t battle-test Centennial for the rigors of the Open Division. Far too many penalties (an issue that has plagued this team all season), a mostly one-dimensional predictable offense and a myriad of turnovers against a sound team like Hamilton is a recipe for disaster.
Something was just “off” for Richard Taylor’s team and those warts were exposed against the Huskies.
For the 4A Lancers, Friday’s showdown in Tucson against a 6A power like Pinnacle was far more than just another playoff game. Despite having a handful of the state’s top players, the Lancers still feel slighted when measured against Valley teams and players.
Dennis Bene made a quarterback change last month and sophomore rising star Treyson Bourguet is making his head coach look pretty wise after the 48-10 stomping of the Pioneers. His four passing touchdowns, including this dime to Lathan Ransom, gives the Lancers an added dimension to push the ball downfield — something it’s lacked for quite sometime.
Here’s another look at Lathan Ransom’s touchdown grab. https://t.co/i4V8BMSFJj pic.twitter.com/6k70fYgsGW
— High School Sports (@HSTucson) November 16, 2019
While Bijan Robinson’s rushing totals against the ‘Neers were pedestrian by B2K’s standards (19 carries, 139 yards, one touchdown), his 86-yard catch and run scoring reception helped send SC to the Open 8 semi-finals.
“We were doubted coming into this game,” the Ohio State commit Ransom said to the Arizona Daily Star. “We knew how good we were. We knew we were a team that should not be messed with. To come out here and prove a point to all of Arizona was a big statement.”
To the victors, go the spoils in southern Arizona.
Three and Out
1. Campo Verde upsets Higley 26-22
FINAL: #6 Campo Verde defeats #3 Higley 26-22 #FridayNight360AZ
— Sports360AZ (@Sports360AZ) November 16, 2019
This is not a good look for Eddy Zubey and the Knights who started off the season slowly before finding their footing when a handful of transfers became eligible and acclimated. Then things turned south with a regular season-ending loss to Williams Field (again) and now getting upset in the second round of the 5A playoffs at home by a neighboring, and on paper less talented, Gilbert school.
2. Gila Ridge takes out Sahuaro 28-21.
Give it up to the road warriors from Yuma who are logging big-time miles, while pulling off sizable 4A upsets this month. Last week it was Coconino in Flagstaff, Friday a trip to Tucson equalled another playoff win for the now 11-1 Hawks.
The Hawks move on to the State Semifinals!!!!!!! https://t.co/cXNNM9LNur
— Gila Ridge (@GRHSofficial) November 16, 2019
Next they’ll make the trek to the far west Valley to battle favored Desert Edge who survived a nail-biter against a pesky Casa Grande squad.
I see you, Yuma.
3. Desert Vista “upsets” Perry 70-63.
Nobody told me it was high school basketball season already. Man…Perry just couldn’t stop anybody. The season’s change but the script apparently doesn’t for Preston Jones’ squad who is out of the 6A race.
Although DV was the lower seed (six playing the three), we all know the Thunder are loaded on both sides of the ball and may be getting healthy at just the right time.
I expect both semi-final games (Queen Creek vs. Red Mountain, Liberty vs. Desert Vista) to be excellent games.