Friday night lights flicker, as 3A, 2A football seasons end

Many of the small schools will wrap up their high school football seasons tonight, while some will begin preparing for the state playoffs.  This is the final week of 3A and 2A regular-season play.

The long-awaited and much-promoted match-up between the top teams in 3A, No. 1 Blue Ridge HS and No. 2 Show Low HS, took place last week, with Blue Ridge wrapping up a 36-18 win and bragging rights in the White Mountains.

After that nationally-televised contest, any games in 3A this week seem like little more than an afterthought.  But there are some interesting match-ups in 2A.

Willcox HS will take its gaudy 9-0 record into tonight’s 2-A match-up with Benson HS, which is on a roll after  a couple of big wins.  Willcox, which has already clinched the East Region title, narrowly escaped suffering its first loss of the year last week when Thatcher HS took them to the wire in a 21-20 final.

But Thatcher has been the only legitimate threat to the Cowboys’ dominance all season.  Prior to that game, they shut out Tombstone HS and Bisbee HS, two of five games when they’ve held their opponents to zero points.  No other school has scored more than a touchdown against them, while outscoring the first eight schools 340-19.

Benson got off to a slow start on the season and is saddled with a 4-5 record overall, but lately has been looking more like the 2009 team that went 10-2 and was undefeated in region play.

The Bobcats have won three of their last four games, piling up 97 points in the three wins.  They beat Tombstone HS, 35-12, last week to give them some momentum going into tonight’s contest.

Unfortunately for Benson, they will have to play tonight at Willcox, giving the Cowboys that extra edge that could make the difference in this one.

Meanwhile, down in Phoenix, it will be a battle between the new top dog and the former top dog.

Northwest Christian HS is 7-1 and atop the 2A power rankings and will visit Scottsdale Christian Academy tonight to try to conclude its regular season with just one loss.

But SCA brings its own 7-1 record into the match-up and would like to validate its No. 1 ranking when the season first started.  The Eagles are currently in the No. 3 spot in the rankings.

Northwest’s only loss came against Valley Christian HS in Chandler, a three-point loss to a 5-3 team that has lost two in a row since that Oct. 8 game.  Valley Christian ran up 266 yards on the ground and another 123 in the air to win that game.  Northwest countered with almost 400 yard of total offense.

Scottsdale Christian’s only loss was to Tempe Prep, which tagged the Eagles for 35 points in an Oct. 1 game.  Tempe earned the 35-13 win with just 78 yards of passing and another 175 on the ground.  SCA ran up almost 300 yards of offense, but four turnovers limited their scoring opportunities.

Northwest Christian is averaging 241 yards rushing per game, fueled by junior running back, Casey Jahn who accounts for 187 yards per game.  Scottsdale Christian rushes for 271 per game behind senior tailback, Chauncey Wright, who collects 136 per outing.

Junior quarterback, Orbi Gonzales, completes 65 percent of his passes for the Crusaders and is just 14 yards short of compiling 1,000 yards on the season.  The Eagles go with senior QB Miller Bentley who mixes things up, gaining 64 yards passing each game, while also averaging 4.5 yards a carry.