As we wrap up the regular season of high school football, probably the most-anticipated game of the year was saved for last. Saguaro High will meet Chaparral High on center stage.
But on a much smaller stage, there is another game in Chandler that is also significant – but won’t generate nearly the same interest as the one in Scottsdale. Think of this one as an ‘off-broadway’ performance.
First, the show-stopper. The Saguaro-Chaparral game is the one you can catch on Fox Sports Arizona, in case you can’t squeeze into the overflowing bleachers at Chaparral.
Saguaro (9-1) is ranked No. 1 in Division II and Chaparral (8-1), a considerably larger school, is the top dog in Division III. Both are favored to win a second consecutive state title this year.
Each school features an offensive star that can make an argument for being the best high school player in the state this year.
Chaparral’s prolific wide receiver, Davonte’ Neal, has 23 touchdowns to his credit this year, with 10 of those coming on rushing performances. The senior also operates in the backfield and returns kickoffs and punts.
Saguaro’s senior running back, D.J. Foster, is the fuel in the potent offense of the Sabercats, who are averaging 59 points a game. Foster has accumulated 41 touchdowns this season and is within 10 of the state record; the team’s expected run to the state title should give him enough games to hit that mark.
The last time these two powerhouse teams met was in 2008 when they were still in the same division and played for the state championship. Saguaro smoked Chaparral in that one, 38-0, but tonight it’s a new ball game.
Meanwhile… over in Chandler, tiny Seton Catholic is about to end a long quest for an undefeated season. They will be playing Bourgade Catholic, which has won just two games this season, so the outcome is all but predetermined.
However, the game will be played at Seton, so it will be especially sweet on Senior Night. The seniors on this year’s squad have struggled through three losing seasons to get to the top, and now have a chance to cap only the second undefeated season in the school’s history.
Head coach, Rex Bowser, took the program over when these seniors were just freshmen. He inherited a strong program that had gone undefeated for the first time in 2006 and then fell to 2-8 when a one-year coaching change took place in 2007. Under Bowser, the program has gone 5-6, 4-6, and 5-7.
But this year it caught fire. The Sentinels are averaging 41 points a game to run up a 9-0 record.
Their junior quarterback, Ryan Bresnahan, has thrown for 2,322 yads and 37 touchdowns. He has a full corps of capable receivers, including two that have accumulated more than 500 yards in catches. Senior Adam Englebert has 730 yards and Matt Haggerty, a junior, has piled up 566 yards receiving.
Bourgade is coming off a 61-7 loss to Northwest Christian and a 47-7 defeat at the hands of Arizona Lutheran before that. So they’re in no mood to deal with the likes of Seton. But that’s just the way the schedule falls.
Both games tonight, the one everyone is talking about in Scottsdale and the one in Chandler that likely won’t draw a full house, are important – just in different ways.
And that’s what makes high school football so interesting.