A school trying  to gain 6A traction. Another trying to hold it together. A night to celebrate tradition. Out-of-state excursions to prove Arizona’s worth.

Here are 10 intriguing Week 4 Arizona high school football story lines with predicted outcomes:

No. 1 Proving ground

Peoria Liberty (3-0) at Mesa Desert Ridge (2-1), Friday, 7 p.m.

This is our Game of the Week. Liberty, in its move from 5A to 6A, has shut out Phoenix Brophy Prep (7-0) and Glendale Copper Canyon (48-0), but needed to stage a late comeback to beat 5A Peoria Sunrise Mountain (49-43). Desert Ridge has had more than 10 players transfer to other schools in the last 15 months, but the Jaguars keep hanging  on, transforming an offense that runs a power Wing T with Lucas Wright getting the bulk of the carries.

Prediction: Liberty 28, Desert Ridge 21

MORE: See this week’s complete list of high school football games

No. 2 Ground game

Gilbert (2-1) at Phoenix Barry Goldwater (2-0), Friday, 7 p.m.

Goldwater can begin to show that its resurgence is for real. Gilbert started out strong but took a big step back last week in a 47-0 loss to Scottsdale Notre Dame Prep. Goldwater has a bevy of young playmakers who can are fast and elusive. It’s taken 5A by storm with the ground game, led by senior Rascheed Sterling, who is averaging almost 16 yards a carry.

Prediction: Goldwater 27, Gilbert 24

MORE: See this week’s high school football rankings

No. 3 Legacy celebrated

Phoenix Central (0-3) at Tempe McClintock (2-1), Friday, 7 p.m.

This is a chance to celebrate the lasting legacy of Karl Kiefer. Kiefer, who is turning 80, will be honored at halftime. Many of  his former players should be there for the former Arizona high school football giant. He opened McClintock in the mid-1960s and built it into one of the state’s premier programs in the 1970s and ’80s. He will be proud of the job second-year coach Corbin Smith has done  with a program that has been up and down since he left it after the 1990 season to start Phoenix Mountain Pointe’s program.

Prediction: McClintock 35, Central 13

MORE: Click here to vote for the Week 3 Top Performer

No. 4 Rattler return

Phoenix Pinnacle (3-0) vs. San Juan Capistrano (Calif.) JSerra Catholic (3-0) at Moorpark, Calif., Saturday, 4:30 p.m.

This is the first of a double-header with another top Arizona team, Gilbert Higley, playing host Moorpark at 7. First up is the expected return of senior QB Spencer Rattler, who has missed the last seven quarters because of a sprained ankle. Junior  J.D. Johnson kept the offense running  smoothly in Rattler’s absence. Expect Rattler to come out charged up to show what the rest of the country has been missing while he was out. He is going  to have to have time and his playmakers are going to have to make plays, because this is a great Southern California team, led by junior RB Chris Street (334 rushing yards) that plays a loaded schedule that includes Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei.

Prediction: Pinnacle 38, JSerra 34


The best plays and moments from Week 3 of 2018 Arizona high school football.

No. 5 National spotlight

Chandler (2-1) vs. Las Vegas Faith Lutheran (1-1) at Henderson (Nev.) Liberty, Saturday, 4:30 p.m.

This is the second of a triple header Saturday. Phoenix Mountain Pointe concludes the day with a game against Utah power South Jordan Bingham. On Friday, host Liberty kicks off the weekend Polynesian Football Classic presented by MaxPreps against national power IMG Aacademy of Florida. All the games are being streamlined on SportsLive, which is a CBS Sports digital subscription. After the debacle at Corona (Calif) Centennial, this is a vital for Chandler to show it belongs on the top-25 national conversation.

Prediction: Chandler 39, Faith Lutheran 15

MORE: Fill out this form to nominate a Boys Athlete of the Week, a Girls Athlete of the Week or an Academic All-Star of the Week

No. 6 Early diagnosis

Goodyear Desert Edge (2-1) at Goodyear Millennium (2-0), Friday, 7p.m.

Desert Edge is back on track under coach Jose Lucero, and Millennium has been a  bit of a surprise so far under second-year coach Lamar Early. It might be too soon to say Milliennium is among the top five surprise teams in the state, but after losing its top rusher who transferred to Peoria  Centennial, the Tigers have unleashed a big weapon in a smaller package, 5-5 Isaac Oliver, the brother of Atlanta Falcons cornerback Isaiah Oliver.

Prediction: Millennium 26, Desert Edge 23

MORE: Arizona high school football rankings after Week 3

No. 7 Gap tester

American Leadership-Queen Creek (2-1) at Phoenix Christian (2-0), Friday, 7 p.m.

This will be a much tougher American Leadership team Phoenix Christian faces than the Irononwood ALA team it dismantled 57-7 last week. ALA-Queen Creek, a 3A team, is playing with a season-long chip on its shoulder, banned from the playoffs by the Arizona Interscholastic Association. It lost two weeks ago to 2A No. 1 Thatcher 30-10, so No. 2 (2A) PC will find out soon enough how much of a gap there might be between Thatcher and the rest of 2A.

Prediction: ALA-Queen Creek 31, Phoenix Christian 24

No. 8 Eastern rivalry

Thatcher (3-0) at Safford (0-2), Friday, 7 p.m.

Great small-school neighborhood rivalry, even if Safford is in 3A and Thatcher in 2A. Safford is playing arguably the toughest small-schools schedule in the state, coming off losses to 2-1 Snowflake (22-7) and unbeaten Wickenburg (48-47, OT). Thatcher has already dominated two 3A schools — ALA-QC and Show Low — winning by a total score of 90-16. Senior RB Quinton Turley is a tough to bring down for Thatcher.

Prediction: Thatcher 49, Safford 14

REWIND: Rewind: What we learned from Week 3 in Arizona high school football

No. 9 Locked in

Vail Cienega (2-0) at Peoria Centennial (2-0), Friday, 7 p.m.

There could be a bit of a hangover by No. 1 (Super 10) after expending so much energy in a 13-7 win over Las Vegas Bishop Gorman. But Cienega has the Coyotes’ attention, especially elusive receiver/kick returner  Terrell Hayward, who is averaging 23 yards a catch. The defense is very good. Ask Phoenix Sunnyslope, which just lost to the Bobcats 35-7. But this one of coach Richard Taylor’s fastest defenses at Centennial.

Prediction: Centennial 26, Cienega 14

No. 10 3A showdown

Phoenix Northwest Christian (1-1) at Queen Creek Benjamin Franklin (2-1), Friday, 7 p.m.

Northwest Christian has had two weeks to get ready for Franklin after losing its No. 1 ranking in 3A to Yuma Catholic. QB Johnathan Metzger (353 passing yards) and RB Aren Van Hofwegen (332 rushing yards) lead a balanced Northwest Christian offense. Franklin’s offense took a hit in the season opener when top running back Zach Jefferies suffered a knee injury. But that double Wing T still is effective and will keep the Crusaders guessing.

Prediction: Northwest Christian 40, Benjamin Franklin 39


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.


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