Rematches tend to amp up the team that lost the first time. And occasionally leave the team that won the first time complacent. So it goes in one-third of the state's football playoff games this Friday (Nov. 15) and Saturday (Nov. 16) (7 of 21 contests).
Thus far rematches have not been kind to teams on the short end the first time. Eleven such games have been played covering all six divisions. The winning team the first time has done so again in nine of the 11. The two reversals — not surprisingly — came in highly competitive D-V. Tempe Prep turned the tables on Northwest Christian and Thatcher did an about-face on Morenci.
The bulk of this week's rematches take place in D-I (three) and D-II (three). The D-I rematches are Brophy at Desert Ridge, Pinnacle at Hamilton and Basha at Chandler. The D-II repeats are Deer Valley at Centennial, Marcos de Niza at Chaparral and Campo Verde at Mesquite. The other is in D-V — Thatcher at Joy Christian. The first-game winners are in bold.
The last two years have seen notable turnarounds in the D-I championship games. In 2011, Desert Vista recouped a 35-10 regular-season loss to Hamilton by dealing the Huskies a 45-19 loss in the rematch. Last year Mountain Pointe topped Hamilton, 17-14, out of the gate, Mountain Pointe lost the return match, 31-16, in the finale. Then again, the winner the first time can prove its mettle and thensome as Ironwood Ridge showed in beating Centennial for the D-II championship in 2012, 27-3. Earlier in the year, Ironwood Ridge slipped past Centennial, 28-24.
The greatest turnaround I've witnessed seeing both games between two teams in a season occurred in 1992. Early that season, McClintock, which went unbeaten in the regular season, beat Westwood, 46-7. The teams met again in the first round of the playoffs, this time Westwood pulling off a 39-3 victory. The turnover differential in those games was enormous with the positive edge going to the winner of each game.
The best thing about rematches — to borrow a phrase — is hope springs eternal for the initial loser. They can either claim fluke if they prevail or accept as fact the other team was just plain better. Enjoy a rematch this week should you choose to attend one.