High school football picture coming into focus

The Arizona high school football season is moving into Week 5 and, at this point, the contenders start to separate themselves from the pretenders.

Last week was the first week when there were no upsets throughout the big-school divisions.  Those who were expected to win took care of business.

But a number  of those teams which were ranked in the top 5 as the season started are no longer in those positions.  Others have managed to hold the lofty rankings they were given by the The Arizona Republic.

In 5A-I the biggest shock has been the two consecutive losses by Brophy Prep, which began the season ranked No. 3 and expected to make another playoff run.

The Broncos, who fell out of the Top 5 last week,  got hammered Friday night by Centennial HS (Peoria), the No. 2 -ranked team in 5A-II.  The Coyotes racked up 226 yards of offense in the first half to take a 17-0 lead, and QB Tyler Bruggman had another big night, going 17-for-37 for 221 yards in the air.

Brophy has been replaced in the Top 5 rankings by Basha HS (Chandler), which took down Cesar Chavez HS (Laveen), 31-6, to go 3-0 and move into No. 3.  Basha racked up its 31 points before halftime arrived, as QB Kyle Duran put points on the board on each of his first three passes of the night, finishing 7-of-10 for 229 yards.

Hamilton HS remains at No. 1, getting little challenge so far as it extends its winning streak to 30 games, and probably won’t get a real test until it meets No. 2 Chandler HS a couple more games down the road.  The Huskies were too much for Mountain Ridge HS Friday, breaking open a game that was close (23-21) at the half, thanks to a 200-yard first-half passing performance by Ridge QB Hunter Young.  Back-to-back scores turned the tide and paved the way for the 45-28 win.

Chandler HS rolled over Mesa HS, 25-7, thanks in large part to a defense that tallied 12 sacks and held the Jackrabbits to minus-20 yards in the second half.  Chandler QB Brett Hundley accounted for 322 yards of offense, including 233 yards rushing.

And Salpointe Catholic (Tucson) remains in the No. 5 spot after posting a 47-20 win over Casa Grande HS to run its record to 3-0.  Special teams keyed Salpointe’s win, as Jared Sires returned a kick-off 66 yards for a score and Spencer Nicholson added another TD when he returned a punt 55 yards.

In 5A-II action… the top four spots have remained unchanged from season’s start, but Sandra Day O’Connor HS (Phoenix) has replaced Sunnyside HS (Tucson) in the No. 5 slot.  The Eagles needed a 30-yard pass play from QB Cougar Beaubien to Matt McElroy with 45 seconds left in the game to pull out a 20-13 win over Horizon HS (Scottsdale) and remain undefeated.

No. 1 Chaparral HS (Scottsdale) beat Mesquite HS (Gilbert), 48-21, scoring three touchdowns on the first three series of plays to run away with the win; safety Colby Targun had three interceptions.

No. 2 Centennial knocked off Brophy and No. 3 Marcos de Niza HS (Tempe) throttled Deer Valley HS as the Padres took a 42-13 halftime lead and finished with a 56-20 blowout.  No. 4 Westview HS (Avondale) was idle.

In 4A competition… things have been pretty steady, especially in 4A-II where the rankings haven’t changed at all since day one.  It’s still No. 1 Cactus HS (Glendale), No. 2 Mingus HS (Cottonwood), No. 3 Williams Field HS (Gilbert), No. 4 Notre Dame Prep (Scottsdale), and No. 5 Liberty HS (Peoria).

In 4A-II…  four of the five starters remain, but have just juggled their positions a little.  Canyon del Oro HS (Oro Valley) remains at No. 1 and Saguaro HS (Scottsdale) is still holding down the No. 2 spot.  But Cienega HS (Vail), with one loss, has dropped from No. 3 to No. 5, and Sabino HS (Tucson) has moved up from No. 4 to No. 3.

Apollo HS (Glendale) started the season in the No. 4 spot, but has been replaced by Cactus Shadows HS (Cave Creek), which ran its record to 3-0 with a decisive 45-21 win over Shadow Mountain HS (Phoenix).  The Falcons put the game out of reach early, building a 35-7 lead at the half as QB Bryce Kinsler threw for three scores and ran for another; an interception and 60-yard return by John Leanord was the fifth first-half score.