Best in the West 2023: Sept. 8 Preview

Arizona Sports News online

Early undefeated records are on the line and big-time battles face off on the west side this Friday night! Best in the West takes a look at a few games that headline Arizona high school football this week


Game of the Week: Glendale @ Buckeye Union

A historic matchup headlines Friday night with a pair of teams who first faced off in 1928. The Glendale Cardinals take a trip deep south to Buckeye Union with both teams eyeing a 3-0 open to the 4A Conference season.

This is the first road game for the Glendale Cardinals following 56-7 and 35-0 wins against Desert Sunrise and Rio Rico to start the season. Senior quarterback, Zechariah Owens, not only continues to dominate the ground game by rushing for over 100 yards in both games this season, but he has completed 20 of his 22 passes for 270 yards, five touchdowns, and no interceptions. Senior, Victor Padilla, has been on the receiving end of three TD passes so far while junior Dominic Owens has caught the most passes and for the most yards. And don’t forget senior running back, Jesus Garcia, who has racked up 151 rush yards and two touchdowns this year. Keep an eye out for Padilla on defense as well, as he leads the team with 15 total tackles while fellow senior, Greg Miller, already has earned 2.5 TFL, 1.5 sacks, and a fumble recovery.

After defeating top-20 Hawaiian team, Waimea, 38 to 21, BUHS came back home to defeat sister school, Youngker, 51-24. Now for the first time this season, Buckeye Union plays on their home turf. Senior receiver, Darius Haskin, was superb against Youngker by catching seven passes for 134 yards and three touchdowns from senior quarterback, Zachary Bennett. Then, Haskin turned around and swiped a 40-yard interception on defense for another trip to the endzone. Senior safety and corner, Ted Scow, also turned heads by leading the team with not only seven tackles but two interceptions of his own. Both teams have had standout players and a pair of standout games. They’ll need production from both sides of the ball to remain undefeated.

This matchup went on hiatus after the 2006 season but picked back up last year in the form of a 31-7 Buckeye Union win. Owens and Garcia both rushed for over 100 yards for Glendale in that meeting while BUHS’ Haskin led both teams with 88 receiving yards. Now-senior, Coen Scott also had a standout game for the Hawks as the only player with double-digit tackles and also earned a sack in that game.

This is the 30th meeting between these two teams with the first game in 1928 being a Buckeye Union victory, 12-6. The following year, the two would shut each other out in a 0-0 tie. Somehow, it was the second 0-0 tie that season for both teams. Football in the 1920’s must’ve been something else. Oh, and that isn’t the only 0-0 tie in this matchup’s history. It happened again in 1933. A massive shoutout to AZ Football Archives for the history lesson.


Rising Tides on the West Side

The Cactus Cobras are again battling above their weight class as they take a trip to north Phoenix to battle the Sandra Day O’Connor Eagles. Cactus is more than used to over-achieving in the past two seasons but O’Connor is ready to get back on track after a blowout loss against national top-25 team, Liberty.

2022 5A Conference runner-up, Cactus, has earned narrow wins to open the season against Sunnyslope and Snowflake, two of the best teams in their 5A and 4A Conferences. Now, Cactus faces 6A Conference O’Connor, who handily defeated Chaparral on the road in week one but fell to Liberty last Friday.

The SDO Eagles are led by senior quarterback, Canyon Anderson, but O’Connor spotlighted a marvelous run game against Chaparral with Nathan Bayus, Kayden Armstrong, and Bentley Corbin all earning over 100 yards. Hayden Satterlund led the team in tackles. At the time of this article, statistics for their game against Liberty had not been uploaded to MaxPreps.

In a stunning offensive stat sheet, Cactus had three different players each throw a touchdown while also only combining for 88 total passing yards in their win against Snowflake. Following the graduation of Will Galvan, it seems that junior, Nikko Boncore-Montoya, has taken up the role of ‘Swiss army knife’ with his 12-yard touchdown throw, receiving TD, pair of tackles, and 158 punt yards. Senior quarterback, Braiden Lagafuaina, joined in on the fun on both sides of the ball with his passing TD and his interception on defense. But while those two steal the show, don’t take your eyes off of senior offensive lineman and linebacker, Raymond Jones, who has been a monster on defense, tacking 11 total tackles and three tackles for loss onto his stat sheet last Friday night.

It’s the first time since 2008 that these two programs have met and a lot has changed since then. Cactus is the smallest public school in the 5A Conference and SDO has elevated itself into a top-20 ranked school in the state. Both teams have made Open Division appearances in the past two seasons.


Welcome to the West Valley

One of the best teams in the state takes a trip to Goodyear to battle undefeated Millennium. The Tigers went down to the wire last week against Campo Verde to come away with a 21-20 dub, but now they face their toughest test of the season against the Perry Pumas.

Perry has obliterated its first two opponents of the season; a 51-13 win at Desert Vista, and a home-opening victory against Sprint Valley (NV) 66-6. It will be up to seniors like free safety Diego Aguirre, defensive end Ezra Edmond, and Louie Ramirez to step up to the plate for Millennium and slow down this high-octane Puma offense. This senior trio has combined for 37 total tackles in their first two games with Edmond and Ramirez also earning sacks in week one against Westview.

Senior quarterback, Titus Johnson, is coming off an 189-yard performance and threw one touchdown and one interception in their win against Campo Verde. Johnson will need his offensive line to buy him time though as Perry’s defense has already accumulated seven sacks and three interceptions this year. Be sure to keep an eye on senior receiver, Gavin Trim, who leads the team with two touchdowns and led the way with 58 reception yards last week. Senior running back, Jalen Dupree, has led the ground game with 159 yards and a touchdown.

Perry is 2-0 all-time against Millennium and haven’t played each other since 2017.


Be sure to head out and support your local teams this Friday night! Also, keep watch at Sports360AZ for all of our high school football content including Bleacher Talk, Zone Read, AZ Audibles, Recruiting Roundup, and more.

Join the conversation on Twitter using #FridayNight360AZ and follow @Sports360AZ to keep up with the action from across the state on Friday nights!