Three prep football teams dodge COVID virus to go 6-0

Just keeping their teams COVID-free has become a major challenge for Arizona high school football coaches.  But three big-school teams have survived all six weeks so far, and remain unbeaten.

As we move into Week 7 of the high school football season, there are three teams in the top two conferences that have played as many as six games –and won all of them.

But after last week’s games, that number was almost reduced to just a single team.

Frankly, just the fact that these teams have been able to play each week is a mark of distinction.  The coronavirus has made scheduling a nightmare, with game cancellations coming on a weekly basis.  According to the Arizona Interscholastic Association, the state’s governing body for high school sports, 45 teams so far have had to cancel games, most of them forced to cancel more than one game.

Although ranked in the top 10,  there other teams ahead of the trio of 6-0 teams that includes Mountain View High School, Corona del Sol HS, and Desert Edge HS.   In 6A, the state’s top conference, Mountain View is ranked No. 8 and Corona is No. 9.   Top-ranked Chandler HS and No. 2 Hamilton HS are both 5-0.  In 5A, Desert Edge is in second place behind 3-1 Saguaro HS.

As the computer organizes the rankings, strength of schedule is a heavy consideration, and probably a key reason the teams aren’t ranked higher.

Corona had no trouble staying undefeated in its Thursday game last week, rolling over Dobson High, 51-0.  But Mountain View and Desert Edge found it required real effort to remain unbeaten.

Mountain View’s 27-20 victory over Mountain Pointe HS wasn’t sealed until the final minute of the game when MV junior defensive end Gabriel Grutzmacher came up with a fourth-down sack to end the scoring threat.

Mountain Pointe gave the Toros all they could handle.  A 42-yard punt return by Jaden Crockett just before the half gave the Pride the lead to start the second half, and then when they got behind by 14 points going into the fourth quarter, a turnover resulted in a TD by Amier Boyd that closed the gap to a single score with half the final quarter yet to play.

Zac Majorzcak, who has been playing quarterback the last couple of weeks to fill in after starter Willy Roberts was sidelined with an injury, led Mountain View’s offensive attack.  The senior finished 16-for-26 for 122 yards, and added another 30 yards and a touchdown rushing.

Meanwhile, in northeast Phoenix, Sunrise Mountain HS was hosting Desert Edge, where the Scorpions’ defense staved off a fourth-quarter rally by Sunrise Mountain to hold on for a 26-23 victory.

Sunrise Mountain struck first when it stunned favored Desert Edge with an 84-yard touchdown pass from Hunter Kronengold to Zeke Marshall for the game’s first score.  A two-point conversion failed, but a field goal added three points as the Mustangs took an early 9-0 lead, but were unable to hold it as Desert Edge went into halftime ahead 20-16.

A 25-yard TD pass from Travis Ward, who replaced Kronengold after the half, to Micah Johnson pulled the Mustangs to within three with 9:43 left to play.  But the Desert Edge defense stiffened and held on to the lead to spoil the Sunrise Mountain Senior Night.

Desert Edge quarterback Adryan Lara had a huge night, throwing for 359 yards and four touchdowns.  His favorite target on the evening, Andrew Patterson, piled up 211 yards and two TDs on eight catches, a statistic that benefitted from an 80-yard touchdown catch early in the second quarter to get the Scorpion scoring underway.

All three teams are hoping their performance so far will help them earn a berth in the eight-team Open Division playoff that will follow the regular season.