Best in the West is back to highlight a few of the games this weekend taking place in the West Valley! This week’s edition features a pair of rivalries, a championship rematch, and more.
Game of the Week: Millennium @ Sandra Day O’Connor
The Millennium Tigers and Sandra Day O’Connor Eagles will face off for the first time in football history as both teams reach their fifth game of the season. The two squads have put up impressive seasons up to this point in both of their conference and hope to bring that momentum forward.
The Tigers started the year strong with blowouts against Canyon View, Agua Fria, and Cienega. Their win streak came to a close last week in a 26-7 loss to another talented 6A team, Centennial. Now, MHS looks to take the lessons they learned from last week and put them into action on Friday night. Senior middle linebacker, Daniel Delponte, has been a moving brick wall tallying 41 total tackles, six tackles for loss, and two sacks this year. Fellow senior, Jax Adair, has played a major role on defense as well with five sacks, 32 total tackles, and a team-leading seven TFL.
— O'Connor Football (@oc_football) September 24, 2022
It has been a promising year for the SDO Eagles after earning the seventh seed in last year’s 6A playoff. O’Connor opened the year with significant victories against Brophy Prep and Red Mountain. After a 47-3 loss at Saguaro, the Eagles stormed back to defeat Cesar Chavez 47-24. Senior quarterback, Cooper King, is alongside two substantial playmakers with running back, Izik Durazo, and receiver, Ben Currence. That pair of Eagles have both racked up over 300 yards each in either rushing or receiving and combined for seven total touchdowns. Meanwhile, the defense will be tasked with slowing down Millennium’s junior energizer bunny, Zues Pinder, who has 622 rush yards on 91 carries for ten touchdowns.
This could be a massive game for both schools as they search for momentum before region play. Both teams could also achieve their best start through five games in the past decade with a win.
From 5A State Championship to 6A Hopefuls
A rematch of the 2016 5A State Championship will commence as Williams Field travels to Centennial with region play looming on the horizon. Both teams now reside in the 6A Conference and face each other for the third season in a row.
Since their 38-14 loss at Hamilton to open the season, Centennial has dominated against Brophy Prep, Desert Vista, and Millennium. Everybody knew that running back, Kavaughn Clark, would be lethal in his senior year, yet no one has been able to stop him. The four-year varsity member has rushed for over 100 yards in every game this season to rack up seven rush touchdowns with 568 yards on the turf. Senior receiver, Aaron Monroe Jr., has taken a big role in the receiving room only trailing Clark in all-purpose yards for the team.
Here it is, again😉: pic.twitter.com/0efRWRVnwy
— Jose E. Garcia (@AZPreps365Jose) September 24, 2022
After starting the season 2-0, Williams Field is coming off of tight back-to-back losses, 23-20 to Casteel, and a 34-33 overtime nailbiter to Desert Ridge. Amazingly enough, this will also be the first time WFHS enters enemy territory after starting the season with four home games. Braxton Manusina, Salehe Koonooka, and company will be tasked with stopping one of the top rushers in the state, Dylan Lee, who has already totaled 1,069 rush yards and 11 touchdowns. Also keep an eye on senior, Damari Washington, to lead the secondary as well.
In their only three meetings so far, the two teams have kept each other off the scoreboard. Neither team has scored more than 17 points against the other with an average final score of 12-8 in favor of Centennial.
Building a Rivalry
Friday night already marks the 15th rivalry meeting between Dysart District teams, Valley Vista and Willow Canyon, even though they only began their rivalry in 2007.
Only four teams remain undefeated in the 5A Conference, including 3-0 Willow Canyon with victories against Kellis, La Joya, and Sierra Linda. Senior running back, Brady Ferris has kick-started this offense with a team-leading 317 all-purpose yards and five touchdowns to keep the ball moving. On the defensive side, plenty of athletes have contributed to the stat sheet with six different players picking up interceptions and three other defenders collecting fumble recoveries. Junior, Jason Campbell, has been an all-around leader with 25 total tackles, three TFL, two interceptions, and a sack.
Let’s go monsoons! 💜⛈🖤 pic.twitter.com/BPRmYnbQzA
— Valley Vista Monsoon (@VVHS_MONSOON) September 3, 2022
Similar to their sister school, Valley Vista is also on a three-game win streak but suffered a loss to open the season against Mountain Pointe. Nonetheless, senior quarterback, Adrian Crespin, is creeping up on 1,000 passing yards this season, completing 60 of 92 passes for 699 yards and 11 touchdowns. Fellow seniors, Blaise Nelson and Mikel Henderson have split the reception productivity this year with a combined 639 yards and four touchdowns each. Keep an eye on senior, Jonah Flowers, who has already tallied 53 total tackles.
Valley Vista held off the Wildcats last year with a 14-0 victory and now brings the rivalry into their house. They’ll need to squash the WCHS ground game and keep slinging the pigskin to pick up their tenth win in the rivalry series.
More Games to Note:
Maryvale @ Trevor Browne
A Phoenix rivalry takes center stage on Friday night as Maryvale and Trevor Browne battle for the 46th time. Not only is this the big game of the season for the two programs but it’s also the home opener for the undefeated TGB Bruins.
After squeezing out wins against Westview, 10-7, and North, 21-20, Browne has shut out West Point and Copper Canyon to bring momentum into this rivalry match. Senior running back, CJ Greer, has been a sparkplug offensively with three touchdowns and 306 rush yards. No other Bruin has accumulated more than 200 rush or receiving yards. Senior defensive lineman, Josh Dweh, has been a juggernaut, leading the team with 21 total tackles, 12.5 tackles for loss, and 5.5 sacks.
Maryvale is in search of their first rivalry win since 2016 but still owns the all-time record at 27-18 according to azfootballarchives.com. The Panthers are still in search of their first victory of the season through three games.
Congratulations to our Varsity Football Team on their 57-0 WIN over Copper Canyon! Our Bruins are starting the season off strong being 4-0! Our next game is our homecoming game on 9/30! #TGBChampionsOfExcellence #TGBAthletics pic.twitter.com/KM2CtTCqPS
— Trevor G. Browne High School (@TGBHS_BRUINS) September 23, 2022
Lake Havasu @ Youngker
Three teams are tied with 3-1 records in the 4A Southwest Region. After falling in their season opener against sister school, Buckeye Union, the Youngker Roughriders have won their last three games to kick off their best start in program history.
Now, YHS welcomes the Lake Havasu Knights for their second match of a three-game homestand. Junior quarterback, Jacob Lira, has surpassed 1,000 passing yards while throwing 13 TDs and just one interception. Fellow junior, Jesus Ordonez, has been the primary receiver catching four touchdowns and collecting 296 yards.
Darius Wiley has been the Roughrider’s defensive standout and leads the team with 23 total tackles, eight tackles for loss, and a staggering seven sacks. Youngker is hoping to hand Lake Havasu their third straight loss. They’ll have to overcome a Knights team that played a closer match against Buckeye Union.
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