A few more section titles could fall in Week 9 as teams bear down to clinch or keep playoff hopes alive.
Keep in mind every division's section champ automatically qualifies for state regardless of where they rest in the power rankings. Most teams in the running for section titles are among the top 16 in their division. However, in Division II and Division V it's clear a team not in the top 16 will qualify via a section title and automatic berth (D-II Section 4 and D-V Section 1). It's highly likely at this point schools need to be in the top 20 of their division to still have a shot at qualifying.
It's becoming clear that a .500 record — perhaps 4-6 – may in some cases be good enough to qualify in Division I (only 29 teams while the rest are 40 or more). Other divisions — because they contain substantially more teams — not too likely to qualify with a .500 or sub-.500 mark.
Here's an overview by division and section of the sectio- title playoff chases with two weeks left:
Section 1 — Chandler (6-2, 3-0) is the frontrunner in the section. A victory Friday over Basha combined with a Hamilton win over Highland cinches the section title for the Wolves. Highland (6-2) with a five-game winning streak in tow, can keep its section title hopes alive by beating Hamilton.
Section 2 — The section title goes to the winner of Friday's Millennium-Westview game. Westview is 8-0, 3-0 and Millennium 6-2, 3-0. Both are safely in the playoffs regardless of how they finish the final two weeks.
Section 3 — Desert Ridge (7-1, 3-0) is the lone unbeaten in the section. A victory over Desert Mountain (4-4, 2-1) combined with a Red Mountain win over Mountain View gives Desert Ridge the section title. A side note. A key game for playoff survival Friday in the section is Skyline (5-3) at Mesa (3-5). Skyline is currently No. 16 in the power rankings and Mesa is No. 18. Skyline finishes at Red Mountain and Mesa concludes with Desert Mountain.
Section 4 — Mountain Pointe (9-0, 3-0) has already wrapped up the section title, is No. 1 in the power rankings, has a bye this week and finishes the year with Dobson. Dobson and Corona del Sol are out of the playoff hunt, but Brophy, currently 2-6, could slip in to postseason at 4-6 with wins over Dobson on Friday and Desert Vista next week. Brophy's strength of schedule would be its saving grace.
Section 5 — The section champ likely is Friday's Horizon-Pinnacle winner. Both are unbeaten in section play and assured playoff berths be it section champ or not.
Section 1 — Sunnyslope, No. 2 in the D-II power-rankings, officially clinches the section crown Friday with a win over Carl Hayden.
Section 2 — Sahuaro controls its own destiny in the section-title hunt. Sahuaro is 3-0 in the section and visits Sunnyside (2-1) on Friday and hosts Cienega (2-1) in week 10. Buena is also 2-1 in the section. Cienega is at Desert View and Buena at Nogales on Friday.
Section 3 — No surprise here. The leader is Centennial 4-0. The Coyotes take the section crown Friday with a win over Willow Canyon at home.
Section 4 — This section is only going to qualify its champ for the playoffs. That will be the winner of Friday's Cibola-Gila Ridge contest at Gila Ridge. Both are 3-0 in the section.
Section 5 — Salpointe and Tucson High are 3-0 in section play and if both prevail this week will meet in week 10 for the section crown. Salpointe has annihilated everyone its faced thus far and is the favorite to take the section. Salpointe visits Ironwood Ridge on Friday and Tucson is at Marana Mountain View.
Section 6 — Campo Verde (2-0), Mesquite (2-0) and Marcos de Niza (2-1). It's a three-team chase for the section crown and all three will reach postseason regardless. Campo Verde already defeated Marcos de Niza. Mesquite visits Marcos on Friday. Campo Verde hosts Poston Butte. If Mesquite beats Marcos de Niza the week 10 meeting (provided Campo beats Poston Butte) between Campo Verde and Mesquite at Mesquite would be for the section titel. Marcos de Niza stays in the section-title hunt if it beats Mesquite.
Section 7 — Chaparral leads the section at 2-0 and can clinch the title by beating Cactus Shadows (1-1) on Friday at Chaparral.
Section 1 — A three-team race. The leader is Peoria (4-0) followed by Sunrise Mountain (4-1) and Cactus (3–1). Peoria visits Sunrise Mountain on Friday and plays host to Cactus in its finale. If Peoria beats Sunrise Mountain and Cactus defeats Goldwater this week, the Peoria-Cactus game next week determines the section champ. Sunrise Mountain mustbeat Peoria and needs a Cactus loss to Peoria to nab the section title. Sunrise Mountain is No. 21 in the latest power-rankings and likely needs the automatic berth of a section title to qualify for the playoffs.
Section 2 — Sabino (3-0) leads Empire (2-1) and Douglas (2-1). Sabino needs only beat Douglas at Sabino Friday to win the section. Sabino is No. 7 in D-III power rankings and Douglas is No. 37.
Section 3 — Saguaro (5-0) officially claims the section with a win over Higley (3-1) Friday at Saguaro. Higley can win the section one way — beating Saguaro and Williams Field in its last two games.
Section 4 — A real mess here. Prescott (4-1), Bradshaw Mountain (4-1), Flagstaff (3-1) and Mingus (2-2) in contention. Most likely scenario at the end is a three-way tie among Prescott, Bradshaw Mountain and Flagstaff. No section champ will be known until after games on Nov. 1. Prescott and Bradshaw Mountain are currently 10 and 12 in the D-III power rankings; Flagstaff is No. 23. Flag likely needs the section title to qualify for state.
Section 5 — Canyon del Oro is pretty much a lock at 3-0. It has beaten Maricopa and Catalina Foothills, both 2-1 in the section. CDO needs a win at Flowing Wells Friday or next week vs. Casa Grande to clinch.
Section 6 — Barring upsets, a three-way tie among Tempe (4-1), Washington (4-1) and Thunderbird (4-1) should ensue. They beat one another for 1-1 records in the first tie-breaker. Tempe owns the next two tie breakers — winning percentage overall and higher power-ranking.
Section 7 — Desert Edge, No. 1 in D-III power rankings, has the section title if it beats Buckeye (No. 17). Tall order for Buckeye.
Section 1 — This one is down to Winslow (3-0) and Page (3-0). If they take care of business on Friday against Chinle and Window Rock, respectively, they meet for the section crown on Nov. 1 at Page.
Section 2 — Sahuarita has the upper hand even though it is tied for the section lead with Safford at 3-1. Sahuarita beat Safford so if the teams tie at 5-1, Sahuarita has the tie-breaker. Sahuarita hosts Santa Rita on Friday and visits Palo Verde on Nov. 1. Safford hosts Palo Verde on Friday and travels to Walden Grove on Nov. 1.
Section 3 — River Valley (3-0) puts the section title to bed if it beats Parker (2-1) on Friday in Parker. River Valley has already defeated Estrella Foothills and Wickenburg, both 2-1 in the section.
Section 4 — Seton Catholic (5-0) wrapped up the section title last week beating Combs. The defending state champion Sentinels close out section play Friday at home vs. Chino Valley.
Section 5 — Show Low (3-0) wins the section title if it beats Snowflake (2-1) in Snowflake on Friday. Show Low already beat Blue Ridge (2-1) and has the edge there in a two-way tie-breaker. Should Snowflake beat Show Low, its likely Snowflake would be declared section champ via tiebreaker with a better winning percentage. All three will be playoff bound and among the top five teams in D-IV.
Section 1 — Only one school from this section will qualify for state, the section champ. It's between Hopi (4-0), Red Mesa (4-0) and Tuba City (4-1). Hopi has the advantage having beaten Tuba City and if it defeats Red Mesa Friday at Red Mesa it clinches the section and berth at state. A three-way tie is possible after action on Nov. 1. In that case the advantage likely goes to Hopi with a better overall record and power-ranking. Red Mesa wins the section with wins over Hopi Friday and Tuba City on Nov. 1.
Section 2 — Yuma Catholic (3-0) clinches a tough section on Friday if it beats nearby Antelope. Since YC has wins over the next two closest teams Arizona Lutheran (2-1) and Bourgade (2-1) a win over Antelope makes the outcome the final week of the season vs. defending state champ Northwest Christiain (1-2) a mute point.
Section 3 — Thatcher (5-0) leads the section and plays a freedom game this week against Joy Christian. A showdown for the section title comes Nov. 1 when Thatcher visits Morenci (4-0. Morenci visits Bisbee on Friday.
Section 4 — Tempe Prep (5-0) and Scottsdale Prep (5-0) settle the section title on Nov. 1 with Tempe Prep hosting Scottsdale Prep at Valley Christian High. Simple as that.
Section 5 — Round Valley (3-0) is team to beat for the section with a win over St. Johns (2-1) in its pocket. If the Elks take care of Holbrook (2-1) Friday in Holbrook the section is theirs.
Section 6 — The section title will be decided Friday with Canyon State (5-0) visitiing Pusch Ridge (5-0). Pusch Ridge likely qualifies for state even if it loses to Canyon State since Pusch Ridge is No. 9 in the power ranking. Canyon State at No. 19 needs the boost from winning the section to make the playoffs.
Section 7 — Joy Christian at 5-0 leads the section and plays at Sedona Red Rock (3-1) on Nov. 1. If Sedona Red Rock defeats Lee Williams on Friday that game will be for the section crown or perhaps a share of it depending on how Williams High (3-1) fares the final two weeks. Williams plays Kingman Academy on Friday in Williams and visits Greyhills on Nov. 1 to finish its season. Joy Christian would hold the tiebreaker edge in a three-way tie among Williams and Sedona Red Rock should they finish section play 5-1.