Pick of the Preps: State title game berths hang in balance for 3 So. AZ teams this week

2012-11-12T00:00:00Z Pick of the Preps: State title game berths hang in balance for 3 So. AZ teams this weekDaniel Berk Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
November 12, 2012 12:00 am  • 

Win and play for a state championship. Lose and go home.

That's the deal this week for Salpointe Catholic, Ironwood Ridge and Nogales.

The three football teams are the lone Southern Arizona big schools left in the playoffs, and all three are playing for the right to compete in the state title game.

Salpointe Catholic gets to stay in Tucson, while Ironwood Ridge and Nogales have to pack up and head north to Phoenix.

Here's a look at the three matchups:

Friday, Division II

Peoria Centennial vs. Salpointe Catholic: The Lancers will serve as the home team, hosting the Coyotes at Amphitheater at 7 p.m.

Centennial enters the semifinal matchup with an 11-1 record - its lone loss coming to Ironwood Ridge by four points. Since the setback to the Nighthawks, Centennial has won six straight games by an average of 50.8 points per game.

UCLA commit Jalen Ortiz has 1,107 yards of total offense this season and 12 touchdowns to lead the Coyotes.

Salpointe hasn't lost since August and is healthier than it has been all season. Running back Johnny Peña has paced the offense in recent weeks with 468 yards and seven touchdowns over his last three games, including a 215-yard performance Friday in the quarterfinals against Mountain View.

Ironwood Ridge vs. Tempe Marcos de Niza: The Nighthawks will travel to Gilbert Campo Verde to play the Padres in the other Division II semifinal matchup. Kickoff is 7 p.m.

It's the second matchup between the two teams this season.

Ironwood Ridge topped Marcos de Niza 35-27 in September in Tempe. In that matchup Nighthawks quarterback Tyler Williams and running back Anthony Braunreiter combined for 315 rushing yards and four touchdowns on 47 carries.

The Nighthawks defense was able to hold down Marcos' top offensive playmaker and Arizona Wildcats commit Mauriece Lee to just 2 yards on six carries and one catch for 7 yards.

However, Lee is coming off his best game of the season. In Marcos de Niza's quarterfinal win over Scottsdale Chaparral, he ran for 324 yards and four touchdowns. He has 1,061 yards and 21 touchdowns on the ground this season.

Saturday, Division III

Nogales vs. Queen Creek: The No. 14 Apaches will try to pull off their third straight upset when they travel to Campo Verde to play 12-0 Queen Creek in the DIII semis.

Nogales is in the semis for the first time in program history and at 10-2 has also posted back-to-back 10-win seasons for the first time ever.

To keep the good times rolling, Nogales will try to knock off the No. 2 seed. The Bulldogs have five wins by 48 or more points this season and are coming off a 28-17 win over Phoenix Thunderbird in the quarterfinals.

Former Ohio State quarterback Joe Germaine is the Queen Creek coach, and his team features running back Matt Guida, who has rushed for 2,450 yards this season with 27 touchdowns.

He ran for 286 yards and two scores against Thunderbird and is averaging 14.76 yards per carry.

Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.

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