No. 2-seed Mesquite is making the most of its switch to Division II, and will take on No. 3-seed Chaparral in the semifinals.
The interlopers are far and few between.
The seeds mostly held true in the top five divisions of Arizona football, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t a few surprises.
Mesquite’s run to the second seed in Jim Jones’ second season running the program, which dropped to Division II this year, has been fun to watch.
The school lost a bunch of students when the Gilbert schools opened south of Mesquite and the Wildcats were never really all that competitive in football when it was at full capacity.
The AIA’s decision to allow schools to appeal down a division received some criticism, but Mesquite is a perfect example of why it was introduced.
The Wildcats (11-1) are setting a new standard this year, while their opponent No. 3 Chaparral (11-1) essentially makes an annual trip to the semifinals.
Jones knows his players have to be even keel while playing their best game of the year.
“We have to be able to do the same thing and everyone has to take it to another level. It’s now the best of everybody,” Mesquite coach Jim Jones told the East Valley Tribune. “Just normal and average play isn’t going to work anymore. The whole week has been pretty serious and pretty focused.”
Another surprise in D-II is No. 12 Deer Valley (9-3) as the team has overcome some off the field drama.
The controversy began this fall when school officials allowed two juniors to play in the season opener, after the AIA Executive Board had denied the players’ hardship transfers.
Three days later, the players won their appeals with the AIA, becoming eligible the rest of the season.
None of that mattered last week when Deer Valley upset No. 4 Centennial to sit one game away from the title game.
Thatcher (10-2), as the seventh seed in Division V, is the next highest seed still alive, while No. 6 River Valley (11-1) is still playing in Division IV.
Other than that the seeds have stayed true. Whether or not it remains that way won’t be known until the weekend is over, but at this point it is anyone’s game.
Fourth-seeded Desert Ridge (11-1) will gladly take its chances against No. 1 Mountain Pointe (12-0).
It makes it easier when a team can rely on one of the most productive backs in the nation as junior Taren Morrison has rushed for 2,499 yards and 38 touchdowns.
“There have been some great running backs, but he is freakishly good,” Desert Ridge coach Jeremy Hathcock said. “I thought he had a chance to be great, but no one knew he would be this good.”
No. 1 Mountain Pointe (Phoenix) (12-0) vs. No. 4 Desert Ridge (Mesa) (11-1) at McClintock
No. 2 Chandler (10-2) vs. No. 3 Hamilton (Chandler) (10-2) at Highland
No. 1 Salpointe Catholic (Tucson) (12-0) vs. No. 12 Deer Valley (Glendale) (9-3) at Marana
No. 2 Mesquite (Gilbert) (11-1) vs. No. 3 Chaparral (Scottsdale) (11-1) at Gilbert
No. 1 Williams Field (Gilbert) (11-1) vs. No. 4 Queen Creek (10-2) at Camp Verde
No. 2 Saguaro (Scottsdale) (11-1) vs. No. 3 Desert Edge (Goodyear) (13-0) at Arcadia
No.1 Show Low (10-2) vs. No. 4 Blue Ridge (Lakeside) (10-2) at Snowflake
No. 2 Seton Catholic (Chandler) (11-10) vs. No. 6 River Valley (Mohave Valley) (11-1) at North Canyon
No. 1 Arizona Lutheran Academy (Phoenix) (11-1) vs. No. 4 Round Valley (Eagar) (11-1) at Paradise Valley
No. 3 Yuma Catholic (Yuma) (9-2) vs. No. 7 Thatcher (10-2) at Cibola