Centennial brings back an experienced offensive line that will star as its backbone this season. Richard Obert/azcentral sports
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Scottsdale Saguaro has to build up an offensive line depleted by graduation but the Sabercats are still stacked with talent. Video: Richard Obert/azcentral sports
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Hamilton still is engulfed in the hazing case, while Chandler gets ready to climb nationally
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High academic school in its first year for football aspires to be the Stanford of the Chandler Unified School District
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The new AIA executive director addresses biggest needs, challenges in Arizona high school sports.
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When high school junior Troy Delgado was homeless, there were days that school meals were the only ones he could rely on. Now, he’s planning to go to college.
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Corbin Smith, the son of former Arizona football coach Larry Smith, has brought in assistants whom he feels will help McClintock get back to respectability on the football field
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With Rich Wellbrock at the helm, the Chandler Basha football program is being reconstructed with a quicker pace.
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A closer look at the 2017 Chandler Wolves. Video: azcentral sports
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Spring football is time for Chandler’s talented additions to mesh with defending state champs. Richard Obert/azcentral sports
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Zidane Thomas leads title contenders into new season.
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McClintock coach Corbin Smith talks about having his players locked in during spring football as the new coaches try to bring back the school’s lost football glory on Wednesday. Richard Obert/azcentral sports
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Arizona football recruits Andrew Nichols of Centennial High, Adam Bay of Desert Ridge High, Bryce Gilbert of Higley High, and Tyler Johnson of Highland High on where they will be playing college football next year. David Wallace/azcentral sports
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Centennial revved up for another title run
Saguaro football begins its ‘drive for five’
Hamilton, Chandler open football practice under different spotlights
Arizona College Prep football laying the foundation
David Hines tackles high school sports issues
High school athlete overcomes homelessness to be three-sport standout
McClintock HS Football, Bringing back tradition
Chandler Basha football players adjusting to new coach
Chandler football, the team looks locked and loaded
Chandler football ready for another title run
Centennial preparing for another big football season
McClintock’s Smith: ‘What matters to me is the history of this school’
National Signing Day – Arizona recruits on where they will be playing college football
Rivalries ramp up every year based on success, geography, trophies, families, communities.
Here is a look at my top 10 must-see rivalries for the 2017 season:
No. 1 Mountain Pointe at Chandler, Sept. 8
This isn’t the classic neighborhood rivalry, but these have become the two biggest programs at the top level since 2013. Mountain Pointe beat Chandler 38-14 on its way to a 14-0 championship season in 2013. Chandler beat a depleted Mountain Pointe team in the 2014 semifinals on its way to the state title. Last year, Chandler avenged that ugly 52-7 loss at Mountain Pointe with a 36-17 victory over the Pride in the 6A final. There is no drop-off in either program.
No. 2 Hamilton at Chandler, Oct. 27
Until Saguaro and Chaparral start playing each other again, this is the biggest, most anticipated game in the East Valley. In the last three years, Chandler has dominated a series that was all Hamilton’s before Bryce Perkins made sure the Wolves broke through three years ago.
No. 3 Mountain Pointe at Desert Vista, Sept. 28
With Desert Vista’s best team since its 2011 championship, this game could break attendance records. Get there early, because parking is sparse at Desert Vista. This is as good as it gets in the Ahwatukee community with talent galore.
No. 4 Liberty at Centennial, Oct. 27
This is the west side’s equivalent to Hamilton-Chandler. A standing-room only crowd with emotions running high in Peoria. Liberty knocked off Centennial two years ago, and Centennial had payback last season. Both teams will be battling for not only west side pride but a 5A championship.
No. 5 Desert Edge at Verrado, Oct. 27
A rivalry began last year when Buckeye Verrado beat the kids from Goodyear Desert Edge for the first time in its history. It came in double overtime and it ruined a perfect regular season for Desert Edge. Verrado has been making huge strides in the past few years and Desert Edge has noticed in 5A.
No. 6 Williams Field at Queen Creek, Oct. 27
These teams usually meet twice a year — once in the regular-season and again in the playoffs. They did so last year, with Williams Field winning both meetings by scores of 16-9 and 37-12 on its way to its first perfect season and state championship.
No. 7 Higley at Saguaro, Sept. 8
This is the closest thing to a 4A rivalry for Saguaro, which found little to no competition last season on its way to a 14-0 season and fourth consecutive championship. Higley put up a good fight for a half last year, before getting rolled. Higley feels it has made improvements. And it does return the Gatorade Arizona POY in running back Draycen Hall. Is this the breakthrough season for Higley under Eddy Zubey?
No. 8 Round Valley at Thatcher, Oct. 13
Even though both teams have big pieces to replace, this has become arguably the most entertaining small-school game in the state. These teams battled it out twice last season, including the 2A championship game in which Thatcher got revenge with a 33-28 victory. Round Valley hasn’t lost a region game since 2012. Last year, Round Valley won the regular-season meeting 28-21. Thatcher will have two weeks (with a bye) to get ready for this regular-season encounter.
No. 9 Peoria at Cactus, Sept. 29
In 1986 and ’87, these teams met for the 4A state championship. Both times Peoria won with William Babb at quarterback. Babb is now the head football coach at Peoria, trying to break through against a Cactus team that still has its same coach from those days with Larry Fetkenhier. Last year, Cactus won a 35-28 thriller.
No. 10 Canyon del Oro at Ironwood Ridge, Sept. 8
The Oro Valley Bowl? Something like that. This game brings out the neighbors. Canyon del Oro has won this rivalry game since 2010 and has gotten blown out in the past three meetings. But it brings back running back Elijah Carey, who had 70 yards and a touchdown in last year’s game.
To suggest human-interest story ideas and other news, reach Obert at [email protected] or 602-316-8827. Follow him at twitter.com/azc_obert.