As part of the Arizona Interscholastic Association’s newest experiment, Salpointe Catholic is headed to the postseason. The Lancers will try to prove that they’re the best team in all of Arizona.
Fourth-seeded Salpointe (9-0) hosts No. 5 Phoenix Pinnacle (8-2) in the first round of the eight-team Open Division bracket, which pulls the best teams from classes 4A, 5A and 6A to compete on the same stage. The Open Division playoffs start on Nov. 15.
The Lancers and their 4A rival Scottsdale Saguaro are in large part responsible for the change; last year, they won their first three Class 4A playoff games by a combined 314 points before meeting in the state championship, where Saguaro won 42-16.
Such lopsided results proved to be the final straw, and the goal of the change this year is to allow the other 16 teams in each class to participate in a competitive field. Both Salpointe and Saguaro made the open tournament, though they’re on opposite sides of the bracket.
If Salpointe beats Pinnacle, it will face the winner of No. 1-seed Chandler and No. 8-seed Chaparral in the semifinals.
More notes as high school playoffs brackets were released. The Class 6A, 5A, 4A, 3A and 2A playoffs start Friday:
They’re in!: Closing the season with five straight wins, Mountain View reached the Class 5A playoffs in its first season under coach Matt Johnson. The Mountain Lions will face top-seeded Williams Field (8-2) as the No. 16 seed.
Mountain View (6-4) had some quality losses — to No. 3-seed Gilbert Higley, No. 4 Queen Creek Casteel, No. 7 Cienega and No. 14 Ironwood Ridge. That was enough to push them ahead of Cave Creek Cactus Shadows and Phoenix South Mountain for the final playoff spot.
Cienega (8-2) rides a seven-game win streak into the postseason, where it hosts No. 10 Phoenix Sunnyslope (6-4). The Bobcats beat Sunnyslope 38-10 earlier this season. Sierra Vista Buena (8-2), as the No. 9 seed, just missed out on hosting a playoff game and will travel to No. 8-seed Peoria Sunrise Mountain. Ironwood Ridge (5-5) fell to No. 13 in the bracket and will take No. 4 Casteel (7-3) in Queen Creek.
A new top seed: Canyon del Oro’s 19-17 loss to Casa Grande allowed Sahuaro to snag the top seed in the Class 4A bracket.
The Cougars (8-2), who host 16-seed Glendale (8-2) in the first round, polished off their regular season with a 25-0 victory at Catalina Foothills. Their only losses have come against CDO and Salpointe, and they tout wins over No. 14 Tempe Marcos De Niza , No. 12 Casa Grande as well as Buena and Sabino.
CDO (8-2) slipped to the No. 3 seed and hosts Marcos De Niza (5-5), but the Dorados should feel confident in their chances. If CDO wins, it could face No. 11-seed Pueblo in the second round. The Warriors (8-2) will put their 5-0 road mark on the line Friday with a trip to No. 6-seed Gilbert Mesquite (7-3).
As the No. 5 seed, Walden Grove (9-1) hosts No. 12 Casa Grande (6-4). The Red Wolves will hope to get a few more strong performances from senior quarterback Alex Lopez, who has thrown for 1,844 yards and 22 touchdowns while also rushing for 777 yards and eight scores.
Run it back: Sabino’s body of work was enough for a spot in the Class 3A playoffs.
Tenth-seeded Sabino (7-3) travels to No. 7 Safford (8-2) for the first round of the playoffs. The Sabercats have fared well against the rest of the Class 3A field. They had nearly 400 yards of offense in a 23-6 victory over No. 5-seed Lakeside Blue Ridge earlier this season, and the following week, they lost 20-14 in overtime at top-seeded Queen Creek Benjamin Franklin.
Pusch Ridge Christian finished 5-5, and just missed out on the playoffs for the first time since 2012.