5A-II football playoffs serve up hefty helping of rematches

November 11, 2010 by Les Willsey, AZPreps365

The 5A-II state football playoffs are similar to 5A-I in that there is a prohibitive favorite in defending champion and top-seed Chaparral.

Beyond that the 5A-II opening-round games do not look anything like their 5A-I counterparts. The matchups figure to run like clockwork according to the seeds with perhaps the usual exceptions in a 9-8 or 10-7 matchup. And rather than one rematch of a regular-season meeting, there are four of eight in the initial battles for 2010 5A-II supremacy.

Here is a brief look at each first-round pairing:

No. 16 Sunnyside (6-4) at No. 1 Chaparral (10-0): These schools had some great battles back in their 4A days in the late 1990s and dawn of the 2000 decade. This year not the case. Sunnyside is young and not at the level of those recent battles with the Firebirds. Chaparral hasn't had a scare all year and it won't happen in the first round or two or three for sure in 2010.

No. 9 Lake Havasu (9-1) at No. 8 Cibola (9-1): This is not only a rematch, it's a three-match. This will be the third time the Gila Valley Region rivals have met this season. They played home-and-home with Cibola winning the designated non-region game, 42-18 at Lake Havasu in September and Lake Havasu returning the favorite a couple weeks ago to deny the Raiders the region title and an unbeaten regular season,3 4-27. The meeing that will count the most is this November battle, which provides the winner a 2-1 series win and a trip to Chaparral next week.

No. 12 Betty Fairfax (8-2) at No. 5 Boulder Creek (8-3): This is Fairfax's first playoff appearance, a school in its infancy with just a second varsity season under its belt. Fairfax has won eight games in a row, but will have a tough time besting Boulder Creek, which played a tougher schedule. Fairfax lost to Millennium and North Canyon. Boulder Creek fell to Sandra Day O'Connor, Chaparral and Mountain Ridge. Boulder Creek has won its last four games.

No. 13 Millennium (7-3) at No. 4 Westview (8-2): This is rematch number two of the four in 5A-II. It happened just last week, which neither school likes but it is what it is. Westview had little trouble dispatching Millennium in that game, 37-15. Westview has two losses this season to perennial powers Hamilton and Centennial. Westview has a promising draw - at least to the semifinals - if it continues to play well.

No. 14 Pinnacle (6-4) at No. 3 Centennial (9-1): Centennial knows vulnerability this year having lost to Red Mountain three weeks ago at home. the loss to Marcos de Niza in surprising fashion last year in the semis stillm hurts. Those defeats should serve to keep the Coyotes focused against Pinnacle. Pinnacle got a much needed win to close the season against Horizon. In fact, Pinnacle won its final three games to snare a berth. The Pioneers losses came against Chaparral, Desert Vista, Boulder Creek and North Canyon.

No. 11 Perry (7-3) at No. 6 Marcos de Niza (8-2): This is rematch No. 3 of the opening round. Perry seemed on the verge of bettering its 6-4 record by at least two games and possible three a couple weeks back after it beat Marcos in an upset, 23-17. But the Pumas lost their final two games handily to Mountain Pointe and Desert Ridge and now must try to regain the edge post-Marcos game. Marcos will be motivated to be sure to return the favor, but may have to do so without leading rusher Anthony Shivers, who banged up an ankle in the Padres loss to Mountain Pointe last week. Both teams don't like entering postseason with negative vibes (losses).

No. 10 Horizon (7-3) at No. 7 Ironwood Ridge (7-3): For the second year in a row Horizon goes on the road in the first round to Tucson. The Huskies were pasted by Sunnyside last year. Ironwood Ridge is the best 5A-II team in Tucson and isn't far behind the trio of area teams that beat it this season -- Canyon del Oro (4A-I), Cienega (4-1) and Salpointe (5A-I). The Nighthawks lost to Salpointe and Cienega by a field goal each and gave CDO as good a game as anyone, losing to the Dorados, 26-13. Horizon is coming off a loss to 14-seed Pinnacle. Ironwood Ridge enters with a five-game winning streak.

No. 15 Deer Valley (6-5) at No. 2 Sandra Day O'Connor (10-0): The fourth rematch of the bracket and the least likely to have a reverse outcome. O'Connor prevailed, 49-13, when the teams met in September. O'Connor has had an outstanding season with coach John Rodriguez and Desert Vista coach Dan Hinds two of the top candidates for coach of the year statewide. O'Connor's best win this season came against Mountain Ridge, the No. 4 seed in the 5A-I bracket.