Top-ranked teams go head-to-head in Wk 1 of prep football

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                </div>  Unlike college football where schools can schedule some soft non-conference games to get the season off on the right foot, the high-school teams have to take on whichever team […]<!-- AddThis Sharing Buttons below -->
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Unlike college football where schools can schedule some soft non-conference games to get the season off on the right foot, the high-school teams have to take on whichever team shows up on their schedule for the opening game.

And Week 1 of this season was a good example of what that can mean to the top-ranked teams.

Friday night was a great opportunity for Arizona prep fans to get their fill of some great football right out of the chute.  Chandler High, the No. 1-ranked team in Division I took on the No. 1 team in Division II, Centennial High. Saguaro High, the No. 1 team in Division III was matched against Chaparral High, the No. 5 team in Division II, in what is always one of the state’s biggest rivalry games each season.  Liberty High put its No. 3 ranking in Division II on the line by taking on Desert Edge, the No. 4 in Division III.  And in Division I, it was No. 5 Pinnacle meeting No. 8 Red Mountain.

The Chandler-Centennial game, as should be expected when you pair up a couple of top-ranked teams, turned out to be one of the best of the night.  That victory for Chandler wasn’t decided until a fourth-quarter scoring drive when Justin Jan pulled in a 27-yard catch and a 31-yard scoring pass to put the Wolves up by four points and seal the 28-24 win.

A quarterback sack by senior defensive tackle J.W. Windsor midway through the fourth forced a Centennial turnover at their own 32 and enabled the Wolves to hold on the final 4:21 for the win.

The Wolves had to come from behind for this win.  Centennial’s senior tailback Dedrick Young put the visiting Wolves in a 7-0 hole, and then a 46-yard field goal by senior Joe Navarro put them up 10-0 before Chandler could get on the board via a 15-yard touchdown pass from senior QB Bryce Perkins to N’Keal Harry.

Perkins finished the night with 140 yards passing (9-of-17) and 40 yards rushing, while Young led Centennial with 160 yards on 22 carries.

SAGUARO v. CHAPARRAL

It doesn’t make any difference whether these two teams are ranked when they meet each season.  It’s still one of the best rivalries in the state between two of the best teams in the state.

However, this year’s results weren’t able to live up to the hype of many of those in the past as Scottsdale’s Saguaro Sabercats established their dominance early and coasted to a 41-14 win over intra-city rival Chaparral.  And the score would have been even more lopsided if a couple of Saguaro touchdowns hadn’t been called back because of penalties.

As anticipated, the star of the game was Saguaro’s senior wide receiver Christian Kirk, who ran over, around, and through the Chaparral defense.  The youngster who is the most highly-prized recruit in the state right now piled up yardage in just about every way imaginable: 186 receiving, 117 rushing, and 63 on punt returns.

He gave Saguaro its first touchdown of the game, scoring on a 70-yard catch on the second play of the game – and then just kept on giving the rest of the night.

And he had some help — not that he needed it.  Junior quarterback Kare’ Lyles threw for 303 yards and a TD and senior running back Kam’ron Johnson took care of the ground game, averaging a little more than five yards a carry to score three touchdowns.

LIBERTY v. DESERT EDGE

Liberty High was able to put three touchdowns on the board before the visitors from Desert Edge could recover as quarterback Tyler Wyatt shredded the Desert Edge secondary by completing 11-of-15 passes in the first half for 171 of his total 222 yards on the night.

Liberty went on to coast to a 31-7 victory to push its record to 2-0.

Wyatt threw for three scores, all in the first half, leading the Lions to the end zone on their first two possessions by completing a six-yard pass to Jake Schuiteboer to cap a 56-yard drive, and then hitting Alex Jackson on a 21-yard completion he took in for the score.

PINNACLE v. RED MOUNTAIN

Red Mountain got on the board first late in the first quarter when quarterback Kyle Buckles connected with Jacob Owens with a four-yard pass that was completed on a fourth-and-one play.

But Pinnacle came back in the second quarter to even the score with a 40-yard touchdown pass from Brian Lewerke to Cules Rose, and then Lewerke scored again on a QB keeper just before the half expired to take a 14-7 lead into the locker room.

A 68-yard kickoff return by Aaron Roland set up the next Pinnacle TD, and Justin Mandrola capitalized on it, scoring on a three-yard pass.  Running back Nick Ferrara wrapped up the 29-13 Pinnacle win by scoring the final TD on a three-yard run.