Arizona high school football teams compete for championships

Perennial powers and newcomers alike will duke it out for the ultimate glory


Leon La Jeunesse/Scottsdale Chronicle

Saguaro High School in Scottsdale has hosted many great football teams over the years, and the Sabercats will play for an eighth championship in ten years on Sunday.

Leon La Jeunesse, Reporter, Scottsdale Chronicle

Thanksgiving has come and gone, but another great Arizona Turkey Day tradition is ready to kick off: the Arizona high school football State Championships.

Some of the regulars on championship weekend are here (such as Centennial and Saguaro), but this year is a little unique as both schools moved up divisions (Centennial moved up to Division I and Saguaro now play in Division II) and the rest of the teams are ones people would not be used to hearing this weekend.

In Division I, the Centennial Coyotes took on the Desert Ridge Jaguars in a classic East vs. West showdown.  Peoria Centennial, the pride of the West side and defending Division II State Champions, had to go through a tough path of East side schools, taking down Chandler Basha, perennial powerhouse Chandler Hamilton, and Tempe Mountain Pointe.  For Mesa Desert Ridge, being the new kid on the block meant proving their worth as they fought through Peoria Liberty, Scottsdale giant Chaparral and the defending Division I State Champions Chandler High. Centennial and Desert Ridge played Friday, and the Coyotes made history in Glendale, becoming the first team located west of the 1-17 to win the Division I championship since 1982. The Coyotes grounded the Jaguars to a pulp in a gutty 28-6 win.

For the Division II title, it is a match up of another Scottsdale giant in the 2014 Division III State Champions Saguaro Sabercats and yearly Division II contender Tempe Marcos de Niza Padres.  The Sabercats, on the prowl for an eighth state title in a decade, breezed through their competition prior to reaching the final, winning by an average score of 38 points over Glendale Apollo, Queen Creek High School and Avondale Westview.  The Padres finally broke through after years of effort, and made it to the championship by beating their rivals Tempe Corona de Sol, Tucson Ironwood Ridge and undefeated number one seed Phoenix Skyline.  Those two play on Saturday in Tucson.

With Saguaro out of Division III, it gave room for a new wave of schools to get a chance to claim the crown as undefeated number one seed Paradise Valley High School gets ready for battle against Goodyear Desert Edge.  The Trojans of Paradise Valley, led by University of Washington commit Daniel Bridge-Gadd and his 60 touchdowns from the quarterback position, offensively dominated its first two games against Tempe High School and Tucson Catalina Foothills but was able to outlast Phoenix Sunnyslope in a great game in the semifinal.  The Desert Edge Scorpions had an almost identical path as it too dominated its first two games against Phoenix Fairfaix, Phoenix Cesar Chavez and were able to grind out a great win against Buckeye Verrado. Like the Division II title game, this game will be held at Arizona Stadium in Tucson.

Make sure to catch the action on Cox Channel Seven.