While Ken Whisenhunt huddles up with Larry Fitzgerald, Adrian Wilson and Darnell Dockett to devise a game plan that calls for the trio to storm Kurt Warners house to beg and plead for the future Hall of Famer to return to the Bird Nest, there are bigger issues at hand. Like, putting together your own game plan to check out the must see prep matchups this fall around the state.
No worries I'll try and draw up a play call that should help you hit paydirt throughout the high school football season this year.
There are not a lot of big matchups here in Week 1 but the fact that it's opening night for teams always makes it a little more electric. One intriguing matchup could be billed as "past-vs-present" as Hamilton rolls into mid town Phoenix for a game against St. Mary's.
Steve Belles, the head coach at Hamilton was one of the top signal callers in the state in his day when he led the St Mary's Knights regularly into the postseason and they were a perennial title threat. Those days are gone however. While the Knights still have plenty of fight they don't have the talent to match up with the much bigger and faster teams like Hamilton.
Next week (Sept. 3) you want to head to the West Valley and Centennial HS (79th Ave. & Thunderbird).
The Coyotes, winners of 3 straight 5A-II crowns before being tripped up last season will host 5A-I powerhouse Chandler. The Wolves are led by all everything QB Brett Hundley who is rated as one of the top QB's in the country.
For years the best football was produced by teams in the east valley, but thanks to the likes of Centennial, Cactus & Peoria that's all changed. You'll want to get there early for this one since both schools have great fan support.
In Week 2 (Sept. 10) one of the great state rivalries takes place as Peoria & Cactus square off (@ Glendale Comm. College).
As the defending champs in 4A-I the Cobras have held the upper hand in recent years in the rivalry but it's always a hard hitting and intense game that brings out a huge crowd. That same week the defending champs of 5A-II, the Chaparral Firebirds, head to the east valley to take on the Mountain View Toros.
The Toros dominated the prep landscape in the 90's and early 00's but in recent years the other schools have caught up. This is another chance for a 5A-II team to grab some headlines by knocking off a 5A-I club. This one will require the chin strap and shoe laces to be a little bit tighter because the hitting in this game will be taken up a notch or two.
Fast forward to September 23rd when Brophy and Chandler square off at Chandler.
It's amazing how loaded the Fiesta Region is. It's like the SEC in college football. Every week there's a huge game with region implications. This is no exception. As deep and talented as Chandler has been in recent years the one they don't have to show for it is a title. Brophy is another stumbling block that must be overcome if they hope to reverse that trend.
In the final weekend of September the Chandler Wolves once again grab the spotlight as they encounter their neighbors from up the road in the Hamilton Huskies.
The Huskies boast a national ranking, back to back titles and for these "neighbors" they also hold the biggest hammer of all which is saying they've never lost to Chandler.
This one is at Chandler this year and if you haven't experienced a Hamilton and Chandler battle then you haven't lived. Outside of a state championship game this one is beyond intense. A huge crowd arrives early and stakes out their seats so if you're heading to this one leave work a few minutes early. You can find something to eat and drink at the many tailgate parties that will most certainly be taking place.
They call it Octoberfest for a reason. Week 1 of the official month of Fall kicks off with a bang as the states top running back and his defending champion CDO Dorados head to Scottsdale to take on the Sagurao Sabercats.
Kadeem Carey is an absolute freak! The POY for 2009 says he feels stronger and faster this season which is a scary proposition for opponents. This is the kid that ran for 267yds and 5 TD's in his teams 40-0 win in the finals.
Last season he torched the Sabercats with a monster game and in the process snapped Saguaro's 37 game winning streak. The returning players still have flashbacks of Carey running through, around and over for them for what seemed like 600 yards rushing. He's taking his mad skills to U of A next season (are you taking notes Dennis Erickson!). Don't arrive late, you won't find a seat.
In late October (22nd) Brophy travels to Hamilton in another Fiesta Region bare knuckle battle. And on that same night you have Mountain View heading to Tucson to meet the Salpointe Lancers. Lancers have a great setting for football and have a college like atmosphere with their tailgate parties before games.
That should get you started. I'll be sure and remind you each week of other key games to check out as the season unfolds.