The Class 5A and 4A state football playoffs have reached the quarterfinals while the 3A and 2A conferences are down to their final four.Click here to view MaxPreps' Arizona football playoff brackets.
The biggest surprise of the first round came when No. 15 seed Gilbert
, a 5-6 club, knocked off No. 2 seed Basha (Chandler)
in the 5A-I playoffs behind a punishing run game and an opportunistic defense that forced five turnovers.
Gilbert coach Dan Dunn took some heat early in the season for what some fans termed "old fashioned" game-planning. But the Tigers' big offensive line made Dunn look smart, pushing the Bears off the line of scrimmage and limiting Basha's offensive plays with a big advantage in time of possession.Tanner Hall
carried 11 times for 109 yards and two scores in the game for Gilbert, including a back-breaking 43-yard touchdown run with 5:45 to play.
"Everyone's overlooking us," Hall said. "We're going to come in and surprise."4A IS PILING UP THE POINTS
A glance at the scores from
Friday's 4A playoff games showed 15 of the 16 winning teams scoring at least
30 points, while 12 scored more than 40 and six scored more than 50. At
smaller schools that don't have as many big linemen, the spread offense
is making its mark. JOSEPH OUT AT MOUNTAIN VIEW
After posting the first losing season in the storied program's history, Tom Joseph was fired as Mountain View's football coach the same day his Toros bowed out of the Class 5A-I state playoffs in a double-overtime loss to Phoenix Desert Vista. In nine seasons at Mountain View, Joseph won a state title, appeared in three state title games and posted a 92-27 overall record.
It is too early to name a replacement but speculation has swirled around Queen Creek coach Joe Germaine, a Toro alumnus who won a state championship at Mountain View in 1993 and quarterbacked Ohio State to a Rose Bowl victory over Arizona State. Germaine is in his first year at Queen Creek and has led the Bulldogs to a 9-2 record and into the 4A-I quarterfinals.THE FAB 5* Rathen Ricedorff, Sr., QB, Show Low:
Ricedorff threw for a 3A single-game record 508 yards with six touchdown passes and no interceptions in the Cougars' 68-48 win over Winslow in the state quarterfinals. Ricedorff is just one touchdown pass short of tying Brian Wriston's single-season state record of 49 set in 2004 at Moon Valley (Phoenix). He already owns the career scoring passes record with 105. Show Low will face Snowflake in the semifinals.* Josh Weeks, Jr., WR, Show Low:
Caught 10 passes for 284 yards and three touchdowns from Ricedorff.* Kelvin Fisher, Sr., RB, Higley (Gilbert):
The Arkansas commit rushed for 286 yards and five touchdowns and also intercepted three passes in a 4A-II first-round playoff win over Phoenix Washington.* Javon Williams, Jr., WR, Chandler:
Had 135 yards receiving with a touchdown and also blocked two punts in a 5A-I first-round playoff loss to Desert Ridge (Mesa).* Willie Willis, Sr., RB, Cienega (Vail):
Willis carried 27 times for 239 yards and three touchdowns, and also returned a kickoff 80 yards for a score in a 4A-I first-round playoff win over Apache Junction. 5 GAMES TO WATCH* 5A-I quarterfinals – Gilbert at Desert Ridge (Mesa), Friday, 7 p.m.:
Can Gilbert keep this Cinderella run rolling by limiting opportunities for the Jaguars' explosive defense?* 5A-II quarterfinals – Marcos de Niza (Tempe) at Centennial (Peoria), Friday, 7 p.m.:
The Padres ended Centennial's three-year reign as 5A-II state champs, and their 39-game winning streak, in last year's semifinals. Is it payback time?* 4A-I quarterfinals – Bradshaw Mountain (Prescott Valley) at Saguaro (Scottsdale), Friday, 7 p.m.:
Bradshaw Mountain has been adept at shutting down rushing games, not allowing a 100-yard rusher all season. But the Bears haven't seen the likes of Saguaro's Teddy Ruben
and D.J. Foster
.* 4A-II quarterfinals – Thunderbird (Phoenix) at Higley (Gilbert), Friday, 7 p.m.:
A No. 12 seed hosting a No. 13 seed in the state quarterfinals? Yep, and one of these teams will find itself in the semis.* 2A semifinals – Northwest Christian (Phoenix) vs. St. Johns, Saturday, 5 p.m. at North Canyon High:
In our humble opinion, the winner of this game wins the state championship.CRAIG'S CRANIUM
What do a 92-27 record, a state title and three title-game appearances get you in this day and age? A pink slip.
That was the case at Mountain View (Mesa), which fired nine-year coach Tom Joseph on Saturday after the Toros completed their first losing season in the program's history with a 31-28, double-overtime loss to Desert Vista in the first round of the 5A-I playoffs.
There is no question Mountain View should do better. The Toros have one of the state's largest enrollments, a stable, upper-middle class community and a tradition that runs deeper than any big-school program in the state with eight state titles.
But insiders knew all along this year's club would struggle. The current group of seniors didn't have much success at the lower levels, there were 10 new starters on offense and Mountain View lost one of (if not its best) players when tight end/defensive end Sam Kamp broke his collarbone before the season started.
I covered Mountain View for 10 years as a prep beat writer and columnist. There are oodles of great people in this community — people who rightly expect success in a program that has known nothing but success. Unfortunately, that faction fails to see the changing reality of the prep landscape.
Mountain View will never dominate like it once did because the rules have changed. Rampant school-shopping and transfers have made it incumbent on a program and school to sell itself. Mountain View doesn't take in many transfers and its facilities are aging – no longer attractive to kids and parents who want the best and latest thing. The academics are first-rate, but so are a number of other schools'.
Beyond that, the state's population has ballooned, meaning nearly twice as many schools exist now as did when Mountain View was dominating during the late 1990s. There is more competition from a sheer numbers standpoint.
It's great to have tradition and expectations, but it's sad when winning supersedes all other considerations. Tom Joseph is a good man who cares deeply about kids. The Mountain View community has been nit-picking his flaws just as any group of fans nit-picks when a program is losing.
But character and honor have been two of Mountain View's greatest calling cards over its lengthy history. The school lost a good measure of both when it let Joseph go.Craig Morgan is a freelance writer who has covered professional, college and high school sports in the Phoenix area for the past 18 years. He currently serves as the Phoenix correspondent for CBSSports.com, covering the Arizona Cardinals and other local teams. He also writes a weekly column and other features for The Arizona Republic. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.