Jesus Barrera, left, puts a move on Rafael Parades during practice. Barrera hopes to repeat as a state title holder.

Mamta Popat/ Arizona Daily Star

Sahuaro’s football team is in line to make its third straight trip to the state playoffs, regardless of what happens Friday night.

However, if the Cougars can beat Cienega for the first time in school history, it would lock up the section title and give Sahuaro a chance to host a playoff game, something it hasn’t done since 1999.

Meanwhile, the Bobcats (4-5) will be trying to avoid their first losing season in school history and complete a surprising comeback from a 1-5 start that would put them in position to win the section and automatically qualify for the Division II state playoffs.

For that to happen, Cienega has to beat Sahuaro and Sunnyside has to defeat Sierra Vista Buena.

If both Cienega and Buena win, Sahuaro (8-1) would own the tiebreaker for the section title.

In other words, Friday night will be wild and so will the rest of the week as the fall sports wind down.

Here are four other events to watch:


• Girls volleyball: Salpointe Catholic is No. 16 in the Division II seedings and has to move up a few spots in order to secure a state tournament berth.

To do that, the Lancers (21-13) must win their last two matches, starting with a match against Catalina Foothills at 6 tonight.

The No. 22 Falcons have already locked up a spot in the tournament by securing second place in their section, so that means Salpointe has to be at least in the top 15 to get in.


• Football: Rio Rico, which locked up its first winning season in school history earlier this year, can secure its first trip to the state tournament with a win over Chandler Seton Catholic.

The No. 10 Hawks (6-3) are out of the running for the section championship but should get in to the Division IV playoffs based on their ranking, especially if they can beat the second-ranked Sentinels. Even with a loss, there’s a chance Rio Rico could still get in.


• Cross country: Most Southern Arizona cross country teams will head to Marana High on Saturday morning to run in their sectional meet and try to qualify for the state championship meet next weekend, although a handful of local runners in Division I will run Friday at Crossroads Park in Gilbert.

Everyone else in Divisions II, III and IV will be at Marana on Saturday. Action gets under way at 8:15 a.m., starting with the Division II boys. The top 25 individuals and top half of the teams qualify for state.

• Swimming: Canyon del Oro will host the Southern Arizona Regional Qualifier at Oro Valley Aquatic Center on Friday and Saturday, giving swimmers one last tuneup or one last chance to qualify for state.

There will be preliminaries all day Friday, starting at 9 a.m. The finals will begin at 9 a.m. Saturday, exactly a week before the state championship meet in Mesa.

Contact high school sports coordinator Daniel Gaona at 807-7761 or On Twitter @DanielGaona13