ALL CAPS indicates Star’s pick to win

Division II, first round, today 7 p.m.

No. 16 Yuma Cibola (6-4) at


• Where: 1545 E. Copper St.

• Last time: First meeting

• Star watch: Cameron Denson, WR/DB, Salpointe. After filling in at quarterback the last two weeks, Denson will be back at receiver and should surpass 1,000 yards on the season with just a few catches. He’s averaging 21.9 yards a catch and enters tonight with 940 yards.

No. 9 Peoria Liberty (7-3) at


• Where: 3901 W. Linda Vista Blvd.

• Last time: First meeting

• Star watch: Richie Estrada, RB, Mountain View. For the second straight season, Estrada is one of the top running backs in Southern Arizona. He has rushed for 1,508 yards and 12 scores this year and has averaged 203 yards a game over the last three weeks.

No. 13 Tucson (7-3) at


• Where: 14388 N. 79th Ave., Peoria

• Last time: First meeting

• Star watch: Donovan Moore, QB, Tucson. The dynamic quarterback who has accounted for 29 touchdowns and 2,427 yards of offense will have to bring his best game if the Badgers try to knock off last year’s state runner-up and earn their first playoff victory since 1971.

No. 11 IRONWOOD RIDGE (6-4) at

No. 6 Tempe Marcos de Niza (6-4)

• Where: 6000 S. Lakeshore Drive, Tempe

• Last time: I-Ridge, 35-21, Nov. 16, 2012

• Star watch: Austin Goddard, MLB, I-Ridge. The lone returning starter for the Nighthawks leads the team with 66 total tackles and will have a busy night containing quarterback Josh Eckley, who has anchored the Padres’ big-play offense and accounted for 39 touchdowns this year.

No. 10 SAHUARO (8-2) at

No. 7 Gilbert Campo Verde (8-2)

• Where: 3870 S. Quartz St., Gilbert

• Last time: First meeting

• Star watch: Cole Sterns, WR/DB, Sahuaro. All season long, Sterns has been a difference-maker on both sides of the field, catching 54 passes for 1,012 yards and 14 touchdowns and pulling in four interceptions. If he can keep it up tonight, the Cougars could gain their first playoff win since 1999.

No. 15 Sierra Vista Buena (6-4) at


• Where: 500 S. McQueen Road, Gilbert

• Last time: First meeting

• Star watch: Dominique Drake, RB, Buena. After rushing for 2,125 yards and 30 touchdowns as a junior, Drake has been limited to 827 yards and 10 scores because of an ankle injury. He’s coming off one of his best games: 16 carries, 145 yards, two TDs.

Division III, first round, today, 7 p.m.

No. 9 Gilbert Higley (5-5) at

No. 8 CANYON DEL ORO (9-1)

• Where: 25 W. Calle Concordia

• Last time: First meeting

• Star watch: J.J. Metz, RB/TE/LB, CDO. There’s a good chance Metz won’t leave the field tonight. He has 26 catches for 827 yards and 10 touchdowns and 25 carries for 353 yards and two scores, and also averages more than four tackles a game.


No. 6 Surprise Shadow Ridge (8-2)

• Where: 10909 N. Perryville Road, Surprise

• Last time: First meeting

• Star watch: Ty Cruz, RB, Foothills. The senior rushed for 144 yards and two scores in an overtime win last week to send the Falcons to the playoffs. He has 1,133 yards and 19 scores this year and helped Foothills get its first playoff win in 2010.

No. 10 Tempe (9-1) at No. 7 SABINO (8-2)

• Where: 5000 N. Bowes Road

• Last time: Tempe, 21-13, Nov. 29, 1996

• Star watch: Matt Bushman, TE/DE, Sabino. Arguably the best tight end in the state, Bushman has been the centerpiece of Sabino’s offense, catching 50 passes for 1,332 yards and 24 touchdowns.

Division IV, first round, Saturday, 6 p.m.

No. 14 Rio Rico (6-4) at No. 3 SNOWFLAKE (8-2)

• Where: 190 South 200 West, Snowflake

• Last time: First meeting

• Star watch: Aaron Fanning, QB, Rio Rico. In his first game under center last week — filling in for his brother Sean, who is out with a broken collarbone — Fanning completed 9 of 16 passes for 118 yards and two scores and had 13 carries for 75 yards.

No. 10 SAHUARITA (7-3) at No. 7 Winslow (7-3)

• Where: 600 E. Cherry St., Winslow

• Last time: Sahuarita, 13-7, Nov. 12, 2004

• Star watch: Joe Jenkins, DE, Sahuarita. Winslow’s run-based offense averages 238 yards a game so it will be up to Jenkins and the Mustangs defense to contain the Bulldogs so that Sahuarita can get its first playoff win since 2004.

Division V, first round, Saturday, 6 p.m.


No. 8 Phoenix Bourgade Catholic (8-2)

• Where: 4602 N. 31st Ave., Phoenix

• Last time: First meeting

• Star watch: Taylor Fitzgerald, RB, Pusch Ridge. The junior is the school’s first 1,000-yard rusher with 1,202 yards and 17 scores, and has an average of 10.3 yards a carry.

No. 13 Benson (7-3) at


• Where: 550 N. Butler St., Eagar

• Last time: First meeting

• Star watch: Nick Hernandez, RB/DB, Benson. Hernandez, a sophomore, leads the team with 10 total touchdowns and is a threat wherever he lines up offensively.

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