Best in the West: Week 7 Preview

I truly wish I had all the time in the world to write a game preview for every single westside game happening on Friday night. Over a dozen games will spread across the west valley Friday, so if you’re a football fan and not out at a game this week, you must be crazy.


Game of the Week: Cactus @ Desert Edge

The Cobras were ‘back in black’ for the first time this season against Deer Valley. First-year head coach, Joe Ortiz, debuted the new jerseys as an homage to the past Cobra home uniforms.

Junior quarterback, Connor Cordts, made his return to the QB slot after a leg injury suffered against Estrella Foothills in week three. The Cactus defense showed up again with two defensive touchdowns in the first quarter and a lot of pressure from senior, Matthew Herrera, all game long. The defense would allow two TD’s in a 29-14 Cactus win.

It may sound crazy, but week seven could decide a region championship with the Cobra’s trip to Desert Edge. After only a couple region games, the West Valley Region fight seemed between Cactus, Peoria, and newcomer, Desert Edge. Following DEHS freshman QB, Adryan Lara’s late-game heroics against Peoria, the Scorpions could lock up the region title with a win over Cactus.

Desert Edge is only 4-3 this season, but don’t let that fool you. The Scorpions gave the five-time defending 4A champs, Saguaro, a fit last Friday, but eventually fell 38-21. DEHS has proved their worth behind great offense from junior, Jihad Marks, and senior rusher, Kennith Powell. The defense has stood tall, headlined by senior, Nassir Sims, leading the team in sacks.

Neither team can be deemed an underdog in this matchup, but Desert Edge has more powerful experiences this year playing the top two teams from last season. Keeping both Cactus’ Zaach Cullop and Anthony Flores quiet on offense is a must for the DEHS defense. Regardless, it’s time for the Cobra D to show their force to make sure their offense can keep up with Desert Edge.

The Scorpions control their own destiny in the West Valley Region and can virtually clinch the region with a win over Cactus. But if the Cobras can steal a win on Friday, that would make their final game of the season against rival, Peoria, even more meaningful.


Last One Standing

In this season’s first AIA football rankings, the Liberty Lions were ranked second in the 6A Conference. Only days later, the Lions became the only team in 6A to be undefeated through week six.

Liberty routed Mountain Ridge in their first region game, 56-20, but faces their toughest stretch in 6A against powerful Desert Valley teams. Their first test is hosting Boulder Creek who is riding high after a clutch three-point victory over a sharp Chaparral squad.

Liberty creamed the Jaguars in last year’s home opener, 42-7, but this BCHS team plays differently. Senior running backs, Lamar Beard and Patrick Serrano have been solid options on the offensive side of the ball, but it’s been the senior receiver, Hendrix Johnson, who has been the pulse of this Jag team.

Johnson has a dozen touchdown receptions on the season and is nearing 1,000 yards on the year. The senior has accumulated nearly half of Boulder Creeks points this season only being stopped by  Highland and Sandra Day O’Connor secondaries.

The names of Ryan Puskas, Jace Accurso, Cameron Ellis, and Braxten Croteau must come out of the play-by-play announcer’s mouth a lot with the secondary making big plays to solidify a Lion victory.


Redbird Rebirth

To say Glendale is having a miraculous year is an understatement. The Cardinals are dominating teams riding their best season in over a decade.

Following an absolute pounding of Cortez with a 54-7 victory, this 6-0 team has a great chance to go undefeated in 2018. Six different players broke into the end zone on Friday, including two touchdowns apiece from senior receiver, Alexis Silva, and junior rusher, Kevin Daniels.

The Cards host Washington this week, a 2-4 team riding a big two-game losing streak. Watch for the Cardinal defense to keep punishing backfields all the way to this year’s 4A tournament while winning a couple games with a stout offense.

I think Eric Sorensen might even agree with me on that from last week’s Zone Read.


A Big Chance to Bounce Back?

We’ll close out with a 5A west end matchup between Verrado and Millennium.

After receiving a beating from the defending 5A champs, Centennial, the Millennium Tigers bounced back with a 49-3 blowout of Barry Goldwater. Junior, Kaysan Barnett, headlined the defensive side of the ball with two interceptions.

Verrado advanced their losing streak to five games following a 27-14 loss to Agua Fria. The Vipers face an uphill battle against Millennium, but they’ve slowed down a high-powered offense before.

Verrado almost squeaked out a win against Sunrise Mountain two weeks ago with great defensive performances from junior, Conrad Gingg, and senior, Sean Purtell. They’ll need to step up again to stop junior quarterback, Jalen Early, and the rest of the Tiger offense.


This is easily the longest list of west valley games so far this year. There are plenty of fantastic games across the whole west side. You can listen to even more on Friday’s games on the Best in the West Podcast. So, be sure to head out and support your team, but don’t forget to use #FridayNight360AZ to join in on all the talk under the lights!


Best in the West: 10/5

Cactus @ Desert Edge

Boulder Creek @ Liberty

Millennium @ Verrado

Estrella Foothills @ Peoria

Sunnyslope @ Centennial

Washington @ Glendale

Sunrise Mountain @ Raymond S. Kellis

Westview @ Shadow Ridge

Agua Fria @ Willow Canyon

Thunderbird @ Greenway

Tempe @ Moon Valley

Pinnacle @ Mountain Ridge

River Valley @ Northwest Christian

Salome @ Anthem Prep

Ironwood @ Apollo

Lake Havasu @ Deer Valley