Week 6 of prep football may be the biggest of 2014 season

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                </div>  It could easily be argued that some of the most significant games of the high school football season in Arizona will be played tonight.  Not just in Division I, […]<!-- AddThis Sharing Buttons below -->
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It could easily be argued that some of the most significant games of the high school football season in Arizona will be played tonight.  Not just in Division I, but in Divisions II and III as well.  And it’s not even Friday night.

Three Thursday-night games are some of the biggest of the season since they involve teams that will be state title contenders when we get into the playoffs.  And all could result in a shake-up at the top of each division.

In Division I… it’s the long-awaited rivalry game between the two Chandler powers, No. 1-ranked Hamilton High School and No. 3 Chandler High.  Hamilton just beat top-ranked Mountain Pointe High School to take over the top spot in the division, but Chandler also played well against the Pride, losing by just a field goal in a 45-42 shoot-out a couple of weeks ago.

This game is a huge rivalry because the two schools are located just a few miles apart and for the last few years they have both been among the top teams in the state’s top division.  Hamilton will be the host this year and school officials say they are expecting as many as 10,000 fans to crowd into the stands and along the fences and have beefed up security accordingly.

Hamilton is ranked No. 6 in the Southwest Region, in national computer rankings just released by MaxPreps, and Chandler is No. 21.

Both teams are undefeated and playing with motivation.  Last year, Chandler beat Hamilton for the first time since the Huskies started playing as a new school in 1999.  But Hamilton came back and avenged the regular-season loss by beating the Wolves in the state semifinals.

The success is somewhat new for Chandler, as the school has emerged in recent years as a football power.  But Hamilton has played in 11 state finals and a couple of semi-finals, and has won seven state titles.

Chandler has outscored its opponents 200-89 and is coming off a 49-6 victory over Cesar Chavez High School, which hasn’t won a game this year.  Hamilton’s biggest win to date was the 30-10 victory over Mountain Pointe, in which it dominated the offensive line and employed a defense that held the top-ranked team in the division scoreless in the second half.  And the Huskies got the job done without their star running back, Paul Lucas, who left the game during the first series with an ankle that turned out to be too sore to play on.

But Chandler has one of the most potent offenses in the state, led by quarterback Bryce Perkins, ranked as high as No. 3 in the country by one scouting service, and running back Chase Lucas who Rivals has listed as the state’s No. 1 recruit in the Class of 2016.

Chandler was the pre-season pick at No. 1 and has fallen to No. 3 behind No. 2 Mountain Pointe.  Hamilton started at No. 3 and has worked its way up to the top spot last week.

But that may all change again, depending on how tonight’s game goes.

In Division II… there is only one unbeaten team in the match-up between No. 1 Deer Valley High School and No. 2 Centennial High.  Centennial is 3-2 on the season, but is on the rise after beating previously unbeaten and then-No. 2 Liberty High School to move into that No. 2 spot this week.

Thus, we have a meeting tonight between the top two teams in this division.

Centennial got off to a poor start, but that’s a product of a very tough schedule this year.  Their opening game was against Chandler – and they lost that one by just four points.  The next game was against another D-I team, Basha High, another loss.

But the Coyotes turned the corner in a 24-14 win over Division I power Brophy Prep in the third game of the season and are on a three-game winning streak – and making a serious bid to return to the No. 1 position in D-II they were given in Week 1.

A strong run game puts the points on the board and a very athletic defense, including one of the best ‘D’ lines in recent memory, has held opponents to an average 15 points a game.

Deer Valley has moved from No. 2 in the opening week to the top spot by outscoring each of its five opponents by two or more touchdowns.  The Skyhawks went on the road last week and beat Apollo High School, 28-14.

Expect Centennial to re-claim it’s No. 1 position.

And in Division III… it’s another battle between two unbeaten teams as No. 1 Saguaro High goes on the road to play No. 2 Queen Creek High School.  Despite it being a D-III game, this should be a solid contender for Game of the Week.

This game would be worth attending just for the opportunity to watch Saguaro’s highly-recruited senior receiver, Christian Kirk.  The kid is all over the field, lining up in the backfield, on the outside, or in the slot – anywhere they can get him the ball.  And that’s often, as he is the primary target for junior quarterback Kare Lyles, who has already passed for 1,253 yards and averages 251 a game.

Kirk has 27 receptions in just five games, picking up an average of 114 yards a game.  Oh yeah, he also runs the ball, carrying 15 times for another 269 yards rushing.

However, don’t expect Queen Creek to just roll over.  The Bulldogs have shut-out three of their five opp0nents and beaten the other two by an average 36 points.  In last week’s 55-21 beat-down of Higley High, they ran up 367 yards of total offense and held Higley’s rushing game to minus-18 yards.  And their top running back, Weston Barlow, didn’t play.

There should be a lot of points on the board when this one is over, but most of them will likely belong to Saguaro.