Derek Simmons Top 16, Week Two

Wednesday, August 28

Week 2 of the 3A season is here and all but two of my top 16 have played. This 3A group is more evenly spread at this point than any year in recent memory, making this season more intriguing. Listen Friday at 5 p.m. on the Sports Zone Radio mobile app or on 98.5 FM, KRFM for more breakdowns during the Hatch Toyota Friday Night Football Show.

 

16. Florence (0-0) - The Gophers are looking for some revenge from their 34-pt loss to Page in the 2018 opener as they kick-off this year with a neutral site (NAU) game against the Sand Devils again.

15. Fountain Hills (0-1) - They aren't world-beaters, but should be somewhere in the playoff hunt in late October. It was a 25-pt week one loss at Northwest Christian. The Falcons have tough task this week in Odyssey Institutes RB Chris Weaver, one week after allowing over 300 rush yd to NWC.

14. Safford (0-1) - Despite the loss at home to Snowflake last week, Safford still moved up two spots in my Top 16. It was a defensive battle in which a late touchdown and two-point conversion were the difference in the 8-7 loss. Possible dark horse.

13. Coolidge (1-0) - In week one win over Bourgade Catholic the Bears did not allow a touchdown. With AZ College Prep scheduled in week two, I'm pencilling in another 'W' for Coolidge.

12. Odyssey Institute (1-0) - Chris Weaver did his thing again, carrying the ball 24 times for 202 yards and four scores in the Minotaurs week one win over San Tan Foothills. This week will be a big test at Fountain Hills.

11. Pusch Ridge (1-0) - The Lions pitched one of three shutouts by my top 16 and put up 42 against Rio Rico last week. Following their BYE this week, they'll take on 4A Walden Grove.

10. Blue Ridge (1-0) - PJ London has a new favorite target in transfer Jimmy Wallace who caught 5 passes for 95 yards and a touchdown last week against Winslow. If not for a dropped pass on a wide open fade route, Wallace would easily have surpassed 150 receiving yards and another TD. The Jackets host Alchesay on Thursday night and look to avenge the schools first loss to the Falcons in nearly 40 years.

9. Show Low (1-0) - The new "ground and pound" offense the Cougars sported lead them to a 36-18 win at Round Valley last week. Their 400+ yard rushing game was led by quarterback Keegan Clark who was responsible for 209 of them. Another big test comes in the form of 4A's Mingus this week.

8. Valley Christian (1-0) - It was business as usual for VC in the 43-0 win over Scottsdale Christian. Could they hold Chino Valley to another scoreless game this week?

7. Benjamin Franklin (1-0) - Even though they were the designated home team last week against Ganado, they'll host their first game of the season this week. This one has been circled on both teams schedules following last years 14-8 win at Snowflake.

6. Snowflake (1-0) - Narrowly escaping Safford with an 8-7 win should have the Lobos more dialed in as they head to the 109 degree heat in Queen Creek. We were treated to a classic last year when they hosted Ben Franklin in a 14-8 defensive game.

5. ALA Gilbert (1-0) - Jack Ricedorff, Junior QB, passed for 443 yards and five TD's last week against Gilbert Christian. This week will be another stat game at ALA Ironwood.

4. ALA Queen Creek (1-0) - Thatcher isn't who they have been but the ALA Patriots are still heading into hostile territory because Thatcher has won 19 of its last 20 home games.

3. Sabino (0-0) - After starting 0-2 last season with 4A's Casa Grande and Saguaro (Tucson) to begin the season, the Sabercats won 10 straight before a semifinal loss. They host Casa Grande this season to kick it off.

2. Northwest Christian (1-0) - This will be the game everyone is paying attention to this week. It's a rematch of the 2018 State Championship. Last season, Yuma escaped Phoenix with a 36-30 win in the regular season. Predicting a Yuma win in another classic outcome.

1. Yuma Catholic (1-0) - Gage Reese passed for nine TD's last week, tying the single game record. Last season he broke the record for most touchdown passes in a season (64) 1A-6A. Reese needs only nine more TD's for the 3A career record at 112, owned currently by Show Low's Rathen Ricedorff. He owns the record for passing yards in a season after eclipsing 4,600 yards last year. He needs just over 800 yards to break Ricedorff's career yardage record. Now, will Reese lead his Shamrocks past Northwest this week?

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