3A semifinals give Florence, Snowflake chance for redemption

November 19, 2010 by Les Willsey, AZPreps365

Are Blue Ridge and Show Low destined for a rematch in the 3A football title game? Or can either Florence or Snowflake pre-empt that program?

The answer comes Saturday afternoon and evening when the 3A semifinals commence at Paradise Valley High School. The doubleheader kicks off at 4 p.m. with Florence meeting Blue Ridge followed at 7 by Show Low and Snowflake. Here's a a look a the two matchups:

Florence (11-1) vs. Blue Ridge (11-0): The teams met in the semis last year with Blue Ridge overpowering the Gophers, 53-7. Blue Ridge is the favorite with its smash-mouth offensive approach led by running back Chayse Russell and a handful of other backs, who try to pound the opposition into submission. Florence counters with the big-play capability of backs Kyle Washington and Nick Brown, who gouged Round Valley for enough long-range scores and big plays to earn a semifinal berth. Florence hopes to have the services of senior quarterback Jace Hulsey, who has missed the past couple games with an ankle injury. Hulsey was able to practice this week and gives the Gophers an added threat through the air. He's thrown just one interception and loves to throw to Washington, who causes problems as a receiver , defensive back and punter as well as his rushing ability.  Blue Ridge's defense is the best  Florence has seen. The Yellow Jackets have surrendered just 80 points in its 11 games this season although they had trouble stopping the pass at times in their narrow win over Fountain Hills last week.

Snowflake (9-2) vs. Show Low (11-1): Show Low hammered Snowflake to the tune of 48-16 six weeks ago and didn't do most of its damage through the air as it usually does. Show Low rushed for nearly 300 yards and built a 34-0 halftime lead to subdue the Lobos. Show Low quarterback Rathen Ricedorff passed for 123 yards and three touchdowns in the contest. Snowflake was successful with its running game between the 20s with running backs Tyler Johnson and Ammon McKinley combining to rush for 224 yards. The Lobos didn't penetrate the end zone, however, until the final quarter. Ricedorff didn't have meager production last week, passing for 512 yards and six TDs in a 68-48 thumping of Winslow. Of that 512-yard total, 288 yards and three scores went to wide out Josh Weeks.