We almost ready for the second round of the 3A and 2A state football playoffs and the 1A championship game this weekend.
No. 9 Queen Creek Benjamin Franklin (7-4) at No. 1 Phoenix Northwest Christian (10-1), Friday, 7 p.m.
All it takes is one or two key players and it is either none-or-won in small schools. Benjamin Franklin began to dominate late in the season because two players injured early in the season returned — QB Danner Bowen and RB Zach Jefferies. Chandler Miles played anywhere from QB to RB to WR while those guys were out. Now Franklin is fully loaded to make up for the 21-13 loss to Northwest Christian earlier in the year.
Prediction: Benjamin Franklin 35, Northwest Christian 21
No. 5 Chandler Valley Christian (8-3) at No. 4 Page (10-1), Friday, 7 p.m.
Valley Christian lost at Page 22-15 in mid-September when the Sand Devils had two 100-yard rushers — Kele Meredith and Robert Smith. The Trojans have since won six in a row, but this long road trip will be on their minds as they seek redemption.
Prediction: Valley Christian 28, Page 21
No. 6 Tucson Sabino (9-2) at No. 3 Snowflake (9-1), Friday, 7 p.m.
Sabino sophomore QB A.J. Skaggs proved last week in a win over Lakeside Blue Ridge that he can lead with a broken thumb, throwing a 65-yard TD pass to Diego Armijo and a 75-yarder to Jimmy Hamilton. The offense will try to move out Snowflake’s solid defense behind tackle Caden Wechsler (6-5, 280) and get middle linebacker Richie Pina to show why he was voted the 3A South Region Player of the Year.
Prediction: Sabino 21, Snowflake 14
No. 10 Safford (7-4) at No. 2 Yuma Catholic (9-2), Friday, 7 p.m.
Safford is hoping its tough schedule pays off here, because Yuma Catholic has maybe the most dynamic passing game in 3A with QB Gage Reese (3,875 yards, 54 TDs) and WR J.R. Henderson (71 catches, 1,691 yards, 23 TDs receiving).
Prediction: Yuma Catholic 35, Safford 20
No. 9 Benson (7-4) at No. 1 Thatcher (11-0), Friday, 7 p.m.
Thatcher has outscored its opponents 494-75 and dominated Benson 48-6 on Sept. 14. There is no slowing down the big green Thatcher machine in its march to a third straight state title.
Prediction: Thatcher 55, Benson 0
No. 5 Phoenix Christian (9-2) at No. 4 Morenci (9-2), Friday, 7 p.m.
This is a difficult road trip for Phoenix Christian, which will find the toughest defense it has seen since the 28-21 overtime loss to Eagar Round Valley on Sept. 21. But RB Malik Taylor has been on a mission, rushing for 828 yards and 11 TDs in his last two games, both against Scottsdale Christian.
Prediction: Phoenix Christian 27, Morenci 21
No. 6 Phoenix Arizona Lutheran (9-2) at No. 3 Round Valley (9-2), Friday, 7 p.m.
The high altitude is one thing for ALA to overcome. Then there is the Elks’ rock-solid defense and an offense that is now jump-started with key players healthy to deal with.
Prediction: Round Valley 48, Arizona Lutheran 6
No. 7 St. Johns (8-3) at No. 2 Goodyear Trivium Prep (10-0), Friday, 7 p.m.
Coach Mike Spencer has done a magnificent job in transition from 8-man to 11-man football at Trivium. But now he faces the master, St. Johns coach Mike Morgan, who knows how to win big games. He has more than 300 in his career.
Prediction: St. Johns 27, Trivium Prep 20
Saturday, 6 p.m., at Maricopa High School
No. 5 Winkelman Hayden (8-3) at No. 2 Superior (10-0)
Hayden took advantage of a banged-up Williams team in the semifinals, winning 30-6. But that’s what good teams do, seize opportunities. Now it faces a healthy Superior team with running QB Steven Ybarra rolling. The last time they met, Superior won 46-6 and Ybarra had 201 yards and four TDs passing and 126 yards and three TDs rushing.
Prediction: Superior 42, Hayden 12
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