Prep football state playoffs begin…Top 10 seeds fall early

The first round of the state football playoffs is generally considered a mine field of potential surprises.   This year is no exception.

Unexpected upsets marked the beginning of the state tournaments in Division I and Division II, courtesy of Millennium High School in the top division and Wesview High in Division II.

Westview, the No. 10 seed in Division I, used an overwhelming offense to run up 469 rushing yards and crush No. 7 Pinnacle High School, 56-20.  In Division II play, No. 12 Millennium took a different approach, employing an attacking defense to keep one of the state’s best quarterbacks off-balance as the Tigers slid past No. 5 Cesar Chavez High School, 28-20.

Both Pinnacle and Chavez had a rough ending to the regular season and perhaps had lost a little of the edge they enjoyed during the regular season.  Chavez was particularly devastated with its season-ending loss to Marcos de Niza High School because it ruined what would have been the school’s first-ever unbeaten season.

The contest with Marcos, which had lost just one game, was expected to be the season’s toughest test for Chavez.  But the Laveen school had not expected the 45-27 romp that closed out the season with its first loss.

Pinnacle, too, ended its season with its biggest challenge – Brophy Prep, one of the favorites to meet Hamilton High in the Division I finals.  Brophy broke a second-quarter tie at 14-14 by running off 42 unanswered points enroute to a 59-21 rout of a good north Phoenix team that had lost just once prior to that.

The first round of the playoffs Friday night gave each team a chance to start with a clean slate.  But the opportunity didn’t last, and Chavez and Pinnacle can begin thinking about next season.

For Chavez, the most unsettling part of Friday’s game was probably its start.  The Champions got in a 14-0 hole, just as they had fallen behind 10-0 against Marcos in the season finale.

Millennium used a zone defense to keep the lid on Chavez’s senior quarterback, Arturo Macias, who finished a banner year with 208 yards passing per game and 30 touchdowns.  He was not only held in check, but also sidelined in the second half after injuring his shoulder.  He was intercepted three times.

That left it up to back-up QB Ivan Jones to try to make up a 14-point deficit in the final quarter.  He brought Chavez to within eight with a late 40-yard touchdown pass, but it was too little, too late.

For Westview, it was all about scoring points.  The Avondale school unleashed its senior running back, Seivion Morris, and then just settled back and let its power game take over.  Morris finished with 288 yards rushing and quarterback Kordell Provchy added 181 yards through the air.

Morris had three runs of 30 or more yards, including a long one for 80 yards in the first quarter that enabled Westview to take a 14-7 lead going into the second quarter – a lead they never relinquished.  The Knights ran out a string of 42 unanswered points after Pinnacle scored its first TD.

A key injury also stifled Pinnacle’s efforts.  Josh Hoekstra, the junior running back who averages 152 yards per game, also went down to a shoulder injury and didn’t even get to finish the first quarter.

Brophy and Hamilton advanced through the first round, with No. 4 seed Brophy giving No. 13 Chandler High School its fourth loss of the season, 54-44, and No. 3 Hamilton easily beating No. 14 Highland High, 44-14.