By Greg Perkins
Easily the highlight game of the night will be in Show Low tonight (Oct. 23), where the 8-0 and second ranked Cougars will be hosting the 8-0 third ranked Snowflake Lobos.
Fans of both of these teams have been looking forward to this matchup since the early weeks of the season when it became apparent they could meet in the penultimate week of the regular season with perfect records. Probably their best common opponent barometer is Blue Ridge. Show Low defeated the Yellowjackets 39-3, while the Lobos prevailed 36-7. Snowflake appears to have the better defense, having allowed only 40 points to opponents through eight games. Conversely, the Cougars have compiled nearly 100 more points of offense through eight weeks than has Snowflake.
Fans of both teams can only hope the two teams don’t remain ranked No. 2 and No. 3 in the division, which would place them in the same half of the state tournament bracket. Yuma Catholic, Lake Havasu and Northwest Christian are also unbeaten, and are title worthy, but in Division IV, the state title traditionally belongs to a mountain team. Snowflake fell in the title game last year to River Valley. A win over the Cougars tonight would be a big step toward earning a chance to avenge that loss. Either way, both Show Low and Snowflake have to be considered title contenders.
With two weeks left in the season, the Roadrunners are clinging to slim hopes of making the state playoffs. They would most likely need a pair of wins in the final two weeks. Their last game is a home tilt with Window Rock, which remains winless through eight games.
The roadblock to the playoffs comes tonight when they travel to meet Round Valley. First off, fans need to know this game will be played outside in Springerville due to the damage inside the dome. That means a cold weather game on grass instead of the comfy confines of the dome.
The Elks headed into this week ranked fourth in the Division V power points. Holbrook dropped to No. 22 after last week’s loss to St. Johns. These two teams have just one common opponent thus far, with each beating Alchesay. The Birds prevailed 38-20, while the Elks won 53-12.
Round Valley typically has a solid combination of speed, strength and size, which has given the Elks the edge against Holbrook in the past four meetings, where they have outscored the Roadrunners by an average of 44-10 in that span.
Unless the Roadrunners can play far and away their best game of the year, they could be looking at their fifth loss of the season and an end to their playoff hopes.
Winslow enters this week ranked 12th in Division IV and will travel to face 10th ranked Blue Ridge. The teams have identical 5-3 records, with both losing to Show Low by similar scores. Winslow won the most recent meeting last year 25-6, but dropped the three previous to that. The Yellowjackets’ losses have been to Snowflake, Show Low and Payson. Winslow beat Payson, but has losses to Show Low, Coronado, and Lake Havasu, with the Cougars and Lake Havasu both undefeated.
This game being in Lakeside may be enough to give the Yellowjackets the advantage. However, the Bulldogs pulled off a big road win in Payson just two weeks ago, showing they are capable of playing well on the road. With Snowflake up next week for the Dawgs, they could really use a win tonight to solidify their state playoff hopes.
Division VI begins its state playoffs on Saturday, Oct. 24. Joseph City made the state field as the 12th and final seeded team. With the top four teams receiving first round byes, the Wildcats travel on Saturday to face the fifth ranked Tigers in St. David. Joseph City finished the regular season at 5-4 and will play a very good 6-2 Tiger team. St. David’s only two losses came against Pima and Valley Union, the top two seeds in the tournament. Joseph City faced St. David two years ago and lost 60-54. The year previous to that they won 60-34.
It is apparent that for the Cats to upset the Tigers on Saturday they will need to put up a large number of points. Joseph City has tremendous skill players this year, but they will need to be on top of their game to come home with a win and advance to the second round, where they would face fourth seeded Bagdad next week.