Division I football playoff predictions
I believe Division I is a two-team race between Brophy and Hamilton. I thought Desert Ridge had a chance to sneak into the title game if it lined up on the same side of the bracket as Brophy, but a season-ending injury to running back J.J. Husar and a potential matchup with Hamilton in the semifinals will be tough to overcome. Mountain Pointe and Desert Vista are also very talented but I don’t think they will make the finals.
First round: No. 1 Mountain Pointe over No. 16 Cibola; No. 9 Desert Mountain over No. 8 Mountain View; No. 5 Red Mountain over No. 12 Buena; No. 4 Brophy over No. 3 Chandler; No. 3 Hamilton over No. 14 Highland; No. 6 Desert Vista over No. 11 Basha; No. 10 Westview over No. 7 Pinnacle; No. 2 Desert Ridge over No. 15 Valley Vista.
Analysis: Brophy and Desert Vista get tough games, but I don’t see either of them losing. The Broncos have finally put it all together and are playing well heading into the postseason. Facing a boom-or-bust team like Chandler is always scary, but the Broncos should win. Basha’s offense should move the ball on the Thunder, but Desert Vista’s running game could dominate this one. Westview-Pinnacle is a toss-up, with the lower-seeded Knights probably the slight favorite. Injuries for Mountain View could make it tough to exact revenge on a Desert Mountain team that beat the Toros in the season opener.
Quarterfinals: No. 1 Mountain Pointe over No. 9 Desert Mountain; No. 4 Brophy over No. 5 Red Mountain; No. 3 Hamilton over No. 6 Desert Vista; No. 2 Desert Ridge over No. 10 Westview.
Analysis: The top-four teams would be favored if the matchups end up like this, but there is possible upset potential in all of them. Desert Mountain would seemingly have a tough time against Mountain Pointe, but a good passing attack gave the Pride trouble against Brophy, and the Wolves have that at their disposal. Red Mountain actually beat Brophy the first time around, but it’s hard to envision that happening again. Desert Vista, of course, routed the Huskies in last year’s title game after losing to them in the regular season. Hamilton won this season’s game and it would be a high-powered quarterfinal matchup. Desert Ridge will get its first test against a quality team in the quarterfinals without Husar.
Semifinals: No. 4 Brophy over No. 1 Mountain Pointe; No. 3 Hamilton over No. 2 Desert Ridge.
Analysis: The Jaguars would seem to have little chance against the Huskies. Desert Ridge will likely go all-in with a power look and try to control the line of scrimmage. The problem is, Hamilton’s defense is so good that it can fight right back in the trenches. The Huskies have consistently gone to a cover zero, no safety help look against Desert Ridge in the past, and the Jaguars do not have the type of passing game to dissuade Hamilton from doing the same thing again. Mountain Pointe led Brophy at halftime in the regular season until the wheels fell off. The Pride would rather play a low-scoring game, but that’s easier said than done now that the Broncos’ offense is clicking on all cylinders. Brophy has the type of balance to score on Mountain Pointe.
Finals: No. 4 Brophy 27, No. 3 Hamilton 24
Analysis: These seem to be the two best teams in the state. The Huskies have had problems offensively at times and began 0-2, but have a dominant defense and enter the playoffs with an eight-game winning streak. Brophy looks great on paper, with a Washington State-bound quarterback (Tyler Bruggman), star wide receiver (Devon Allen), an impressive running back (Marche Dennard) and a good defense, but it took the Broncos awhile to get going this year. Hamilton had some trouble against Basha earlier this year, and the Broncos have similar balance on offense. In the end, I think that will be the difference in the title game.