Home Play Jason's Rants Football predictions: Mesa state title drought at all-time high

Football predictions: Mesa state title drought at all-time high

It's been nearly a decade and half since a Mesa program has hoisted a state championship trophy. (Jason P. Skoda/MyNewsMesa.com)

The drought has reached 14 seasons since a Mesa-based football program won a state title.

Four teams have a shot at putting an end to it when the 6A Conference playoffs begin on Friday as No. 14 Mountain View, No. 13 Skyline, No. 7 Red Mountain and No. 2 Desert Ridge prepare for first-round games.

The last team to win it all was the 2002 Mountain View squad, which topped a four-year run of Mesa schools winning it all.

The Toros won it in 1999 and 2002 with Red Mountain sandwiched in between with the program’s only title in 2000 and 2001.

This winless stretch matches the longest streak as Mesa schools also went 14 seasons between 1964 (Westwood) and 1978 (Mountain View) since the Arizona Interscholastic Association started recognizing champions in 1959.

In other words, if none of the four area teams end up with the state title on Dec. 2 at University of Arizona Stadium, it will become the longest stretch in history of Mesa football.

Outside linebacker Gabe Segura (20) of the Desert Ridge Jaguars wraps up quarterback Kaleb Herbert (10) of the Highland Hawks in the second half of the high school football game between the Desert Ridge Jaguars and the Highland Hawks at Highland High School on Oct. 27. (Billy Hardiman/MyNewsMesa.com)

During this time five teams came close to winning it all as Mountain View (2003, 2006), Mesa (2009) and Desert Ridge (2010, 2015) ended as runner-up.

Desert Ridge has had the most impressive season at 9-1, while Red Mountain (8-2) is the hottest team with eight straight wins to finish as the seventh seed.

If the streak is to end, it will likely come from one of those programs and only one because if they both win on Friday they will meet up in the state quarterfinals.

Here is a look at this week’s first round games:

No. 14 Mountain View at No. 3 Chandler

The Toros have played well down the stretch against lesser opponents. The Wolves are anything but that as Chandler is considered the state’ No. 1 team by just about all impartial observers.

A lot of things would have to go the Toros way. Playing against a team like Chandler will benefit the strong junior class that includes leaders like Jeremiah Hollen, Alex Talamantes and Brandon Nunez.

Chandler 45, Mountain View 14

No. 14 Westview at No. 2 Desert Ridge

Westview went winless in the non-region portion of the schedule but enter the postseason on a five-game win streak. The Knights haven’t faced a team of Desert Ridge’s caliber since Centennial in Week 5.

They won’t be ready for Desert Ridge. The Jaguars defense is disruptive and that’s not good for an offense based on rhythm and deception.

The Desert Ridge offense, which maybe without quarterback Cooper Schmidt, who was taken out for precautionary reasons after a big hit last week, is playing well behind its physical offensive line.

Desert Ridge 28, Westview 14

Skyline’s Darius Glover (6) goes over the middle against the Hamilton defense, in first quarter action Friday night at Skyline High School. (Corey Cross/MyNewsMesa.com)

No. 12 Skyline at No. 5 Hamilton

Skyline had Hamilton in a bad spot – the Coyotes led 17-6 at halftime in a 27-17 loss – but let the Huskies comeback in the second half.

It means the Huskies will not overlook Skyline this time around. A Skyline team that has undergone some chances – mainly the loss of 1,000-yard rusher Aaron Wood and an injury that may limit quarterback Steven Castle – since the last meeting.

Pulling off a win at Hamilton without being 100 percent with a roster that is thin to being with is asking an awful lot.

The Coyotes won’t get blown out, but they will be out manned.

Hamilton 34, Skyline 20

Red Mountain’s Joey Sanchez (9) hauls in this third quarter pass for a touchdown during action Friday night at Mountain View High School. (Corey Cross/MyNewsMesa.com)

No. 10 Horizon at No. 7 Red Mountain

The Huskies have lost two straight to close the season, while the Mountain Lions enter the postseason with the longest win streak in 6A at eight games.

Red Mountain has found a new level on defense and the offense has grown as well. Are they good enough to hang with the top? Not sure yet, but they are definitely ready to move on the quarterfinals while facing a struggling team at home.

Red Mountain has its sights on something bigger this season and it gets a little closer with a big win this week.

Red Mountain 38, Horizon 10

6A Conference first round

No. 9 Desert Mountain at No. 8 Highland – Offense meets defense. Highland wins this behind a strong unit that has held up well against No. 1 Mountain Pointe and No. 2 Desert Ridge. 21-17 Hawks.

No. 16 Cibola at No. 1 Mountain Pointe – The talk is Mountain Pointe isn’t as good as in years past. They’ve heard it too. And they ain’t happy about it. 52-0 Pride.

No. 13 Boulder Creek at No. 4 Perry – At some point, an opponent might slow down Perry (under 400 yards and 40 points probably qualifies). It’s not happening this week. 56-0 Pumas.

No. 11 Cesar Chavez at No. 6 Pinnacle – At first glance, this was ripe for an upset special. Chavez played well against Queen Creek and Highland, but was hammered by Hamilton. Then we thought better of it. 35-21 Pioneers.

Last week: 16-4. Season’s record: 176-60 (.746)

– Jason P. Skoda is a senior writer for MyNewsMesa.com. Send Mesa-based story ideas to jskoda@mynewsmesa.com.

State history

The seven Mesa football programs have combined for 29 appearances in the state championship games with the teams combing for 17 state title.

Here is a look at each program’s history

State championships

Mountain View (8) – 1978, 1983, 1986, 1993, 1996, 1997, 1999, 2002

Mesa (4) – 1960, 1963, 1990, 1992

Red Mountain (2) – 2000, 2001

Westwood (2) – 1964, 1988

Dobson (1) – 1987

State runner-up

Mountain View (5) – 1987, 1988, 1992, 2003, 2006

Desert Ridge (2) – 2010, 2015

Mesa (2) – 1979, 2009

Westwood (3) –  1966, 1989, 2000

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