As mid-season football arrives, it's shake-out time

    Some good football is on tap tonight in games around the state. 
    The Big Dogs will play
the games that mean something to the rankings feature 5A-I Pinnacle HS
trying to hold on to it’s unbeaten status (5-0) and No. 5 ranking as it
travels to North Canyon HS to take on the 3-2 Rattlers who scored 47
points in last week’s win over Kofa HS.  In 5A-II, there isn’t much
movement expected among the top 5 teams; Centennial shouldn’t have any
trouble holding on to its No. 1 ranking, as it meets Ironwod, who lost
to Westview last week, 33-14.  QB Justin Butler put Ironwood ahead at the half on two TD passes, but Westview’s Eric Ramsey scored three times in the second half, on runs and a pass completion.
    In 4A, Notre Dame Prep (5-0) and its impressive QB Will King
will try to hang on to its No. 1 ranking in Division II, as it gets a
real challenge from Williams Field HS, also 5-0.  And Cactus Shadows,
No. 2 in 4A-I, will take its unbeaten record to Apache Junction to take
on the No. 5 Prospectors (5-1), who had a come-from-behind win over
Greenway HS last week.
    The last game that can truly be
considered a spotlight contest is in 2A, where top-ranked Northwest
Christian (5-0) travels to Chandler to take on No. 2 Valley Christian
(5-0).  It will be Northwest’s super sophomore running back, Casey Jahn, facing off against Valley’s QB Jordan Morgan, who will be running and passing to keep the defense on its heels.
    But there are also some interesting games, outside of the ranked teams, that bear watching this week…
    Some games will be just outside of the harsh glare of the spotlight this week.  In 5A-I, Mesquite HS (4-2) will attempt to slow the momentum of Mountain View HS (3-2), which has scored 85 points the last two games after getting off to a slow start this season.  The game will determine who ends up on top of the 5A Central Region.  Mountain View will count on its strong-armed QB, Brad Heap, who has thrown for 784 yards and 7 TDs so far and Jacom Brimhall, the running back with 654 yards rushing and nine touchdowns.  Mesquite will counter with a strong backfield and a tight end, R.J. Rickert, who has snagged 24 passes for 225 yards.
    In 4A-I, Saguaro HS will try to pick up the pieces after No. 2 Canyon del Oro HS (Tucson) shattered its 37-game winning streak by routing the Sabercats, 44-0, fueled by a pair of interceptions by Jared Tevis that he ran back for touchdowns.  Saguaro faces Moon Valley HS that puts a stingy, opportunistic defense on the field.  Moon Valley squeezed past Independence HS last week, 24-23, thanks to a pair of interceptions – by Randy Gomez for a 72-yard score and Cord Deal for a 23-yard score – and a goal-line stand on four plays at the one-yard line.
    In 4A II, the continuing story line is whether Paradise Valley HS can right the ship against Greenway HS.  Top-ranked at the start of the season, PV has lost three straight; losing running back/linebacker/kicker Jake Brown to an ankle injury has had major implications. Greenway is coming off a 42-36 loss to Apache Junction.
   And in 3A, look for a down-to-the-wire finish between Snowflake HS, ranked No. 4 and 5-1, and Show Low HS, also 5-1, that lost last week’s game to Fountain Hills HS despite putting up 21 points in the second half.  The strong arm of Show Low’s junior QB Rathen Ricedorff, who passed for 327 yards and two TDs last week, will put the points up on the board.  But the home field advantage for Show Low could be the difference in this one.