Quick observations from first full week of football in East Valley and southern Arizona while I continue to dry out from steady, but not heavy rain last Friday:
Chandler, playing its toughest opening-night opponent in a decade fared quite well with a 41-21 thumping of Centennial. Bryce Perkins, the Wolves junior quarterback debuted with 314 yards of total offense. A pretty even split rushing and passing.
Ironwood Ridge, ran its record to 2-0 with a 35-27 victory on the road at Cienega. Always a tough, competitive game — this one didn't disappoint. Ironwood Ridge off to a good start as defending D-II champs with pretty much an entirely new lineup on both sides of the ball.
Valley Christian gave a good account of itself in debuting for new coach Jeff Rutledge. The Trojans fell to defending D-V champ Northwest Christian, 19-13, up at NAU. Playing the defending champs out of the gate is a tough go, but the VC did more than expected. It took a NWC TD pass with three minutes left to provide the Crusaders their margin of victory and overcome a 13-12 deficit.
Mesquite won the battle of new coaches with its hard-fought 10-3 triumph over Gilbert. Mesquite and Jim Jones and Gilbert and Tim Rutt played solid defense as the final tally indicated. Both need more output on the offensive side going forward.
Campo Verde (2-0) finished strong last season and has demolished its first two foes this season — Goldwater (46-0) and Catalina Magnet (56-6). The rise to D-II is going good so far for the Coyotes, although Goldwater and Catalina are D-III schools. Better tests to come.
Queen Creek (2-0) leaped two divisions and came away from D-I Highland with a 21-14 victory to run its winning streak to 16 games dating back to last year's D-III title season. Queen Creek has been relying on strong defense to keep its streak alive, but it didn't hurt that running back Matt Guida turned in a pair of nifty TD runs. It proved Guida is a quality back at any level, if that was at issue at all.
The state's D-I powers went out of state and fared nicely in winning and losing. Defending D-I champ Hamilton toppled Eastlake (Chino, Calif), thanks to a fast start, 28-17. Basha had its way with Green Valley (Henderson, Nev.), 41-17, due in large part to quarterback Zach Werlinger (373 yards passing) and running back Rajhan Meriwether (four TDs, 2 rushing, 2 receiving). Desert Vista and Desert Ridge were defeated by quality foes in tight games. Desert Vista took a 13-0 loss to Mission Hills, Calif. and Desert Ridge bowed to nationally-ranked Junipero Serra (Gardena, Calif), 28-22. Desert Ridge trailed 28-6 at halftime, but made a game of it in the second half.
Combs High made a successful debut with new coach Jesse Hart, topping Globe, 9-0. Wins have been hard to come by at Combs so all are welcome. This is Combs fourth year of varsity football and last Friday's win as its fifth at that level.