OK, exhale. Week 5 of Arizona high school football is in the books.
But it had everything… high drama, heartbreak, and hysteria. It was loaded with excitement that spread throughout 5A and 4A play – from the top-ranked teams to those still trying to earn respect.
Chandler HS, ranked No. 5 in 5A-I, took No. 3-ranked Brophy Prep to overtime before the Broncos pulled out a 27-26 win in overtime… and in 4A competition, it took TWO overtimes before Cactus Shadows HS was able to upset favored Paradise Valley HS, ranked No. 2 in Division II, 29-22.
The Chandler-Brophy game tied at 20-20 with just 51 second left, when Chandler’s sophomore QB Chase Knox hit Max Eller for a 29-yard score to send it into overtime. Then Chandler sent in junior QB, Brett Hundley, and he scored on a 9-yard quarterback keep play to make it 26-0. A missed PAT was costly because Max Leonesio answered for Brophy with a TD and Alex Garoutte added the extra point needed for the victory.
In the Cactus Shadows win, it was their quarterback, Dillon Classen, that put the game away in the second overtime when he connected with his running back, Cameron Larsen, for a 10-yard score. Classen threw for 161 yards and three TDs.
Still another heart-stopper was unfolding Friday night in the game between Highland HS and Desert Mountain HS. Highland secured a one-point victory – but not until there was just 2.2 seconds left in the game! Highland came out of a 21-0 hole to score 28 points in the fourth quarter, with Desert Mountain appearing to have held off the rally when Kevin Radcliffe took the Wolves 80 yards in 12 plays before Nick Rana capped the drive with a 3-yard score with just 29 seconds left. But Highland came back on a 76-yard kick-off return by Robert Harrison and then, with just seconds left, Cameron Clemente added one final Highland TD for the win.
Red Mountain HS passed its first real test this season, as it held off Mesa HS in a 28-21 win to secure it’s continued ranking in the top 5 in 5A-I. But Apache Junction wasn’t as fortunate. The No. 3-ranked team in 4A-I fell to Mingus HS (Cottonwood), 35-21, one of the few significant upsets of the week.
But a couple of the most interesting story lines of the week involved Raymond S. Kellis HS and Perry HS. Kellis continues to play out the ‘darkhorse’ scenario, since it was not anywhere to be found in pre-season ranking considerations – but went to 5-0 with a 35-19 win over Dysart HS. Perry QB Chad Snider continues to impress, this time with 148 yards passing and another 122 yards on the ground.
However, the game that created a lot of second-guessing this week was Perry HS facing Westwood HS with a roster missing 11 suspended players. For three quarters it looked like Perry was going to pull out a win with a depleted line-up, but Westwood came alive in the final quarter to score all 16 of its points and secure the 16-15 win. Billy Sueing scored both TDs for Westwood on runs of 15 and 12 yards.
Adding to the week’s excitement were some great individual performances: Kevin Radcliffe finished the game against Highland HS with 220 yards in a workhorse performance, carrying the ball 37 times and getting into the end zone on three of those…the dueling running backs, Danny Clark of Saguaro HS and Allan Woods of Cactus HS, who each scored a pair of TDs in the third quarter of the 38-21 Saguaro victory to keep alive their 37-game winning streak… Arcadia HS quarterback Colby Kirkegaarde, who racked up five touchdowns, three in the air and two on the ground, to lead his team to a 49-7 route of Coronado HS; he finished 15-for-22 for 205 yards… QB Mike Benjamin fueled Basha HS to a 31-6 win over Gilbert HS, throwing for 284 yards and three touchdowns… in a 45-0 win over Moon Valley HS, Prescott HS quarterback Cole Johnson was 9-for-16 for 186 yards and two scores, to complement a 100-yard rushing game from Brian Scates, who added four TDs to the stack… a very efficient night for Jay Leary, who ran up 329 yards in just 12 carries to help Phoenix Christian HS to a 46-29 win over Westwind Prep… Ben Grams ran for 224 yards and two TDs to help Arizona Lutheran HS to a 40-7 victory over Tonopah Valley HS… and Trevor Browne used some long gainers to defeat Camelback, 43-0, including a 62-yard score by Darrion Murphy and an 84-yard punt return by Matthew Shurtleff.