By Greg Perkins–
Week one of the high school football season kicks off tonight (Aug. 26) as all of the area schools open their 2011 campaigns. With the new restructuring of the athletic landscape, conferences such as the 3A North and 3A East no longer exist, having been replaced by sections and divisions.
In football, Holbrook, Snowflake and Winslow now belong to Section 1 of Division IV. Joseph City is now in Division VI. While the descriptors of the leagues have changed, for most schools, the opponents they will face still have familiar names.
This week Holbrook opens on the road at Snowflake. The Roadrunners will take to the field for the first time under new head coach Curtis Berger, while the Lobos are in their second season under the direction of Ron Tenney. Last year the Lobos made a deep playoff run before losing out to eventual champion Show Low in the state semifinal round. Snowflake won nine games a year ago, with one of those wins coming at the expense of the Roadrunners by a 35-6 final. Snowflake returns 22 seniors along with 22 juniors to a veteran team. Holbrook went 6-4 last year and has a good core of young players mixed with some veteran returnees. However, in this game it appears the deck is stacked in favor of the Lobos.
Winslow plays host to Sedona Red Rock and the Bulldogs should open the season with a win. Last year these two teams met with the Bulldogs pitching a 48-0 shutout win. Gone are some key senior stars, but there is enough talent in Winslow to keep things rolling in the Bulldogs’ favor. Last season’s 9-3 mark may be tough to equal this year with a much tougher schedule, but the Bulldogs will still be in the playoff hunt when the calendar flips to October. Sedona struggled to a 2-9 record a season ago and will have to show drastic improvement to make this a game, especially on the turf in Winslow.
Two-time defending 1A champion Joseph City opens on the road at Rock Point. The Wildcats have plenty of talent returning and have a strong chance of a three-peat despite the divisional change. Rock Point struggled with just one win last season and hosting a two-time defender is not a great way to start a fresh season. Expect the Wildcats to begin their title defense with a huge win.