An already-heated rivalry got spiced up this offseason.
Mountain View’s Oct. 24 game against Tucson High will mark a homecoming for three ex-Badgers, including Demetrius Flannigan, a senior wide receiver and defensive back who has verbally committed to the UA.
Flannigan transferred to Mountain View this summer as did his younger brother, DeShaun, and Bryce Coleman, a junior who amassed 1,174 combined yards rushing and receiving last year.
After helping the Badgers go 7-4 and reach the Division II state playoffs last fall, the trio was in line to form another potent offense and possibly help lead Tucson to its first postseason win since 1971.
On top of all that, Tucson coach Justin Argraves will be facing his old team for the fourth time. After winning the first two meetings by a combined six points, Argraves’ squad lost 33-7 last year.
There’s not another game in Southern Arizona this fall that will have this big of a backstory, but here’s a look at five more matchups to watch over the next 11 weeks:
Pueblo at Amphitheater, Aug. 29
Series record: Amphi leads 19-5-1
Last year’s result: Pueblo won 34-20
Storyline: This game features two new coaches debuting with their teams: Jorge Mendivil and Brandon Sanders. Mendivil, who spent last season as an assistant at Walden Grove and before that was Empire’s head coach for seven years, now finds himself following the footsteps of Vern Friedli as he takes over one of the state’s most storied programs. Meanwhile, Sanders, a former Arizona Wildcats defensive back, is a rookie head coach hoping to lead Pueblo to the state playoffs for the first time since 1990.
Sahuaro at Sabino, Sept. 5
Series record: Sabino leads 24-14
Last year’s result: Sabino won 27-14
Storyline: This is always a fan-favorite. The eastside rivalry that used to kick off the season now takes place in Week 2 but it hasn’t lost any flair. The Sabercats have won nine straight meetings, but last year’s margin of victory was the closest since Sabino won 21-16 in 2005. Perhaps this is the season sixth-year coach Scott McKee and the Cougars can finally earn bragging rights for Sahauro since its 14-7 win at Sabino in 2003.
Catalina Foothills at CDO, Oct. 2
Series record: CDO leads 9-0
Last year’s result: CDO won 19-12
Storyline: This will be one of the biggest Division III matchups and will likely have playoff implications at the midpoint of the season.
CDO is coming off a strong 10-2 season that nearly included a trip to the state semifinals. On the other hand, Jeff Scurran led the Falcons to an 8-3 record and a postseason appearance in his first year back in coaching after they went winless a season earlier.
Sunnyside at Desert View, Oct. 17
Series record: Sunnyside leads 12-1
Last year’s result: Sunnyside won 34-27
Storyline: Desert View came extremely close to beating district rival Sunnyside for just the second time ever last fall, but the Blue Devils scored 13 points in the fourth quarter to rally for their eighth straight win in the series. The only time Desert View has topped Sunnyside came in 1989 at home so maybe coach Robert Bonillas and the Jaguars can rekindle their past for a monumental win.
Ironwood Ridge at Salpointe, Oct. 24
Series record: Salpointe leads 6-1
Last year’s result: Salpointe won 48-9
Storyline: This is the early favorite for game of the year, once again. Coach Dennis Bene’s Salpointe program hasn’t lost to a Southern Arizona team since 2008, when I-Ridge beat the Lancers 41-14 at Salpointe.
If the winning streak stays alive up to its Week 9 meeting with the Nighthawks, Salpointe will have won 47 straight games against local opponents. If there is anyone who can stop the Lancers from reaching 48, I-Ridge is that team.