The pressure is off a bit but the competition will be fierce today through Saturday at the annual Diablo Soccer Tournament at the Tempe Sports Complex.
Twenty boys teams and 16 girls teams lineup for at least three games and as many as six. Games do not\\\'t count in the power-point rankings so that does not play with the minds of coaches, but teams want to prevail just the same as it gives an early indication of where the power may be, particularly in 5A-I.
Two-way Saguaro lineman Cyrus Hobbi was spent. Nagging physical aliments and fatigue had him collapsing often in the final minutes of Saturday\'s 4A-I football championship game with Canyon del Oro.
But when time had expired do-everything quarterback Teddy Ruben had enough energy to play another 48 minutes. The diminutive Saguaro signal caller jumped and spun with joy knowing he and his teammates had snared a hard-fought, come-from-behind 41-34 victory over defending champ CDO at Sun Devil Stadium.
The sixth and final year of crowning a 4A-I football champion in the state is here. Two teams that have etched their names as champions four of five years previous get to finish out the era.
Canyon del Oro, the defending champ, and Saguaro, which has won three of the five titles contested in the division since it was formed in 2005, meet Saturday afternoon at 3 at Sun Devil Stadium for the right to take home the final trophy.
Teams want to be playing their best football heading down the stretch. If winning streaks mean anything, that is exactly what Desert Ridge and Desert Vista high schools are doing at present.
Desert Ridge (9-3), the No. 10 seed, takes on Desert Vista (10-2) Friday night at 7 at Mesquite High in one of the 5A-I semifinal games. The winner advances to face the Hamilton-Mountain Pointe winner on Dec. 13 at University of Phoenix Stadium.
A lot of people wanted to see what Mountain Pointe could do against Hamilton last season. That matchup never materialized as the Pride fell to Mesa High in the semifinals.
The teams are on the same side of the bracket this year and have won two games so fare in very different ways as they meet in the 5A-I semifinals Friday at 7 p.m. at Chandler High.
Last year Jason McBrayer was the backup quarterback for Canyon del Oro. A very good team. An undefeated 4A-I state title team. That was fine. Going along for a championship ride.
But he ached for the chance to play more and contribute the best way he knew how -- by playing. He has received that opportunity this year and hasn\'t disappointed.
Last year was a lost season for Highland guard Alyssa Heeman. But if the start of the new campaign is an indication, it could be a huge find for her and her Hawk teammates.
Heeman, a 5-foot-4 guard, missed about two-thirds of last season due to a torn anterior cruciate ligament in her right knee. She suffered the injury near the end of summer, had surgery and returned to action in mid-January.
Teddy Ruben has amassed 4,611 yards rushing and passing this season and D.J. Foster almost 2,000 rushing and receiving. Between injuries, Ka\\\'Deem Carey has still managed 1,582 yards rushing and quarterback Jason McBrayer chimes in with a tad over 2,000 yards rushing and passing.
There is little doubt offense will shine Saturday in the 4A-I football championship game at Sun Devil Stadium between Ruben\\\'s Saguaro Sabercats and Carey\\\'s Canyon del Oro Dorados. But talking to most people involved at Tuesday\\\'s 4A-I championship game press conference, defense was a hot topic and what many feel will be the deciding factor in their second meeting this season.
Normally if a team only has the ball for a 1 minute and 23 seconds in a quarter it was not very productive for that 12 minutes.
Except if that school is Saguaro High. The Sabercats ran only nine plays in the second period Friday night, but scored 28 points in the stanza and that led the Sabercats to a 42-13 victory over Queen Creek in a 4A-I semifinal game at Paradise Valley High School.
It was one of those games where the thinking was the team with the ball last would win.
Williams Field stopped Notre Dame quarterback Jordan Gehrke short of the goal line on an attempt for two points with 19 second left Friday afternoon allowing the Black Hawks to hang on for an offensive 49-48 victory in a 4A-II semifinal game at Paradise Valley High School.
Last year East Valley schools raised one championship trophy in boys basketball. Tucson managed one. They\\\'re back at it beginning Monday as invitationals for the most part and a smattering of power-point games kick off the 2010-2011 season.
Here\\\'s a look at some teams and players to watch from the East Valley and southern Arizona for the coming campaign: