When the Arizona Interscholastic Association's conference boards went to
a seven-conference format six years ago, the impetus was to give more
teams the thrill of competing for state championships. In 2011, they
will fully reverse course and philosophy, going to a six-conference
format for football.
Increased travel and event costs, along with
a sense that they had watered down the competition, convinced officials
to make the switch.
Starting next season, there will be one less
trophy available, so it's time to get while the getting is good. The
state playoffs enter the quarterfinals for 3A and 2A, while the 1A final takes place.
Click here to read about the 5A-I and 5A-II playoffs.
Click here to read about the 4A-I and 4A-II playoffs.Click here to view MaxPreps' Arizona football playoff brackets.
Here's an update for classes 3A, 2A and 1A:3A QUARTERFINALSFavorite — Blue Ridge (Lakeside):
What more can be said of coach Paul Moro's astounding program? Eleven 3A titles and the Blue Jackets appear headed for another. They haven't been challenged for more than a half all season, they've allowed just 66 points and their closest win was by 11 over Round Valley.No. 1 contender — Show Low:
Show Low had better be careful with second-round opponent Winslow. If they get past that game they should roll into the title game and get a chance to exact revenge on Blue Ridge after a bitterly contested loss earlier this year that was fueled by Show Low accusations that Blue Ridge illegally recruited standout defensive back/running back Jordan Morgan – a charge the AIA found baseless.Darkhorse — Winslow:
The Bulldogs got off to a 1-2 start with losses to Round Valley and Snowflake. Since then, they've ripped off eight straight wins. It helps to have quarterback Kraig Shirley
healthy after missing the early season with a broken collarbone.Best quarterfinal matchup — No. 6 Round Valley (Eagar) vs. No. 3 Florence:
A Sept. 10 meeting at Florence produced an epic, 36-35 Round Valley win when the Elks drove 60 yards in 10 plays. The drive was capped off by Shad Lindsey's
four-yard touchdown reception with 26 seconds left and a 2-point conversion catch by Colton Merrill
.Final Four prediction:
Show Low vs. Snowflake
; Round Valley vs. Blue RidgeChampionship pick:
Blue Ridge over Show Low2A QUARTERFINALSFavorite: St. Johns:
The Redskins have quietly gone about their business this season while everyone wanted to talk about the Central Region, unbeaten Willcox and even dangerous Thatcher. This is a program that's been there before with three straight championships in the past decade and eight 2A titles overall. Don't be fooled by the weak region schedule and the two losses. They both came in close fashion to 3A powers. St Johns is ready for another run.No. 1 contender — Northwest Christian (Phoenix):
Winning the Central Region is usually a ticket to the championship game, but that region is down this season and Northwest must face St. John in the semifinals. They'll have to earn their way.Darkhorse — Yuma Catholic:
It would be nice to see a Yuma school break through on any level of football. The Shamrocks have the best shot with a No. 2 seed and a good draw.Best quarterfinal matchup — No. 14 Thatcher vs. No. 6 Tempe Prep:
Thatcher is hot, having knocked off unbeaten Willcox in the first round. When these teams met Oct. 7, Tempe Prep held on for dear life to win 20-14.Final Four prediction:
Northwest Christian vs. St. Johns; Thatcher vs. Yuma CatholicChampionship pick:
St. John over Yuma Catholic1A FINALChampionship prediction: Mogollon (Heber)
gets full revenge for last year's title-game defeat by toppling mighty Joseph City
, a team it beat 40-28 earlier this season.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 email@example.com.