As the high school football season turns the corner into the second half, and we get a lot of the lopsided early-season match-ups in the rear view mirror, Week 6 has some much-anticipated contests on the Friday night menu.
The meeting between Scottsdale powers, Chaparral High School and Notre Dame Prep would normally have been included on that list, but not so much tonight.
Chaparral lost a little of its lustre with an embarrassing 42-22 loss in the Sollenberger Classic to open the season, and then squeaked past Salpointe Catholic, 22-21, in the next game.
They’re back on track now, outscoring their last three opponents, 198-33. The Firebirds stomped on McClintock High last week, 79-13, as QB Connor Brewer threw for 216 yards and four touchdowns and Davonte Neal racked up 103 yards on the receiving end.
For Notre Dame Prep, back-to-back 4A state champions not too long ago, the early road to the playoffs has been even rockier. The Saints opened the season with a mind-blowing 56-6 loss to Marcos de Niza High and are now without their head coach, who has taken a medical leave. They’re 2-3, working their way back from an uncharacteristic 0-2 start, but were behind almost the entire game last week against Desert Mountain High School before rallying to pull out a 28-24 win.
The Saints’ senior quarterback, Jordan Gehrke, accounted for three touchdowns through the air, while junior running back Nick Cole, who averages 113 yards a game, broke this one wide open with 251 yards.
But there’s another game in Scottsdale tonight that should prove to be an even better option for the fans, as undefeated Saguaro High School from Division III plays host to undefeated Desert Vista High from Division I.
Saguaro has run up 307 points in its first five games and is coming off a 62-24 drubbing of No. 2 Cactus High School. Earlier in the schedule, the Sabercats dispatched Thunderbird High, 70-21, when that school was ranked No. 2. in Division III.
Desert Vista also has no trouble finding the end zone. The Thunder have outscored their opponents 214-27 and are averaging 47 points a game. And they come at their opponents with a balanced offense; last week against Corona del Sol, QB Hunter Rodriguez threw for 226 yards and three TDs, while the ground game picked up 170 more yards.
However, with all that said, the game that will draw the brightest spotlight this week is the annual match-up between Chandler High School (4-1) and its neighboring rival, Hamilton High (5-0).
Hamilton is planning on extending its incredible win streak to 45 games. Chandler is looking to break its 14-game losing streak to the Huskies.
And this could be the year the Wolves break the curse.
Chandler is averaging 45 points a game to this point. Hamilton has not allowed any opponent more than 7 points so far. Something has to give.
In Chandler’s only loss on the season two weeks ago, the Wolves still scored 41 points, but allowed Basha High School to put up 58 points. Chandler’s senior running back, Paul Perkins, will make sure the Wolves put points on the board. He’s averaging 12 yards a carry.
But they have to put the clamps on the Huskies’ secondary to slow the passing attack of quarterback Blake Kemp, who is averaging 204 yards a game in the air. He threw for 313 yards last week in a 30-7 win over Mesquite High School.
It will be a high-octane game that will make the fans happy. And likely be a lot closer than in many earlier encounters. More like two years ago, when Hamilton had to rally from a 14-point deficit late in the fourth quarter.
That’s why this game will be the one to watch tonight.