Last-ditch efforts to secure playoff berths. Games that decide section titles. Teams trying to maintain or gain home playoff games in first round.
All those are part of Week 10 — the final week of regular-season play. Here are games involving East Valley or southern Arizona teams with the aforementioned stuff on the line:
THURSDAY NIGHT LIGHTS: Saguaro (8-1) at Marcos de Niza (6-3) — A showcase game — Saguaro quarterback Luke Rubenzer vs. Marcos de Niza QB Josh Eckley. Both teams comfortable with playoff spots in their respective divisions, although Saguaro at #3 in D-III and Marcos de Niza at #6 in D-II wouldn't mind moving up a slot or so after this finale.
DIVISION I: Brophy (3-6) at Desert Vista (4-5) — The only two schools other than Hamilton to win a big-school title the last 10 years, this game is likely for a playoff berth. Chandler (7-2) at Highland — Highland could gain a piece of the section title by pulling off an upset. A loss won't hurt the Hawks playoff chances, but it might rob them of a first-round home game. Highland is No. 7 at present (top eight host first-round games). Gilbert (2-7) at Basha (4-5) — Basha could use a win to snap a three-game losing streak and give it a shot at moving up to host a first-round game. The Bears have dropped four of five, but this should shake out some of the cobwebs. Red Mountain (4-5) at Skyline (6-3) — Skyline is not used to this playoff stuff, so at No. 13 a win would cinch them a spot. Losing has the Coyotes a little worried about qualifying. Thanks to strong playoff representation from its section — even with a loss Skyline should live to play another week.
DIVISION II: Campo Verde (8-1) at Mesquite (8-1) — This is for the section title outright. A school that moved down from D-I (Mesquite) and one that moved up from D-III (Campo Verde). Should be a good one. Campo is No. 7 so a loss might drop them from the top 8 depending on teams just behind them in the rankings. Mesquite is safe at No. 3. Cienega (4-5) at Sahuaro (8-1) — Sahuaro is favored, but Cienega (No. 21) doesn't want to see a postseason streak end if possible. Cienega could tie for first with a win and earn an automatic berth as long as Sunnyside also beats Buena. That's a lot to ask for the final week. Cienega has not missed the playoffs since it began championship varsity play in 2003 (10 successive playoff berths). Tucson (7-2) at Salpointe (9-0) — Salpointe is one of two teams in D-II with a perfect record (Sunnyslope's the other). The Lancers should end that way, especially with Tucson reeling from a blowout loss to Marana Mountain View last week.
DIVISION III: Williams Field (8-1) at Higley (5-2) — The battle for supremacy in the Higley District. Williams Field owns it with a 4-0 record (the teams have only met since 2009. Higley would love to break into the win column in the series and bolster its chances to move up from No. 9 to the top 8 and a home playoff game. None of he previous games has been close wth an average final of 44-12.
DIVISION IV: Walden Grove (16), Combs (17) and Florence (18) are battling for the final spot in the division. Walden Grove (5-4) hosts Safford (7-2), Coronado (3-6) at Combs (5-4) and Florence (5-4) at Coolidge (8-1). A win by any of the three would be considered an upset.
DIVISION V: Thatcher (8-1) at Morenci (5-3) — It's for the section title. Neither team is in danger of missing the playoffs. San Manuel (3-6) at San Tan Foothills (7-2): STFoothills is currently No. 16. Hopi, which is not in the top 16 but has an automatic berth as a section champ, would bump STFoothills from the playoffs if it doesn't move up at least a spot. Scottsdale Prep (7-2) vs. Tempe Prep (6-3) at Valley Christian HS. Again this is for a section title with neither team in danger of missing the playoffs with a loss. Tempe Prep's three losses have come against powerful D-V teams Yuma Catholic and Northwest Christian and D-IV No. 1 Show Low. Scottsdale Prep has bowed to Joy Christian and NWC.