It’s come down to this.
Seven teams started out with different goals, but all had playoffs on the mind.
With one game left, just 48 minutes of action, after months of training and spending more time with each other than their actual family, four teams can make the postseason a reality.
Desert Ridge and Red Mountain are in at No. 3 and No. 7, respectively, in the 6A Conference power rankings.
Win or lose this week both will finish among the top 16 while wins secure a first-round home game.
Skyline appears to be in as well at No. 13 with a win, but a loss makes things less certain. It appears the Coyotes have enough of a gap between them and all the teams below them to be safe, but because the formula used by the AIA and MaxPreps is unknown it is hard to know for sure.
Mountain View is currently at No. 16 and that would be just dandy when it comes to filling out the 16-team bracket if region champions were not given an automatic bid.
The isn’t the case so No. 20 Westview and No. 15 Tucson are guaranteed spots as region champions and most likely will secure the 16th and 15th seeds.
It means Mountain View has to jump two teams – Tucson and No. 14 Boulder Creek – to grab a spot.
Here is a look at this week’s games:
Skyline (5-4, 3-1) at Dobson (3-6, 0-4)
The Coyotes are remaking themselves a bit this week with the loss of running back Aaron Wood and quarterback Steven Castle. Sophomore Marcus Brown, should be the starter, will be better equipped with more reps in practice and game plan with his skills in mind.
At No. 13 in the power rankings, the Coyotes need a win to secure a spot.
The Mustangs have a chance to put an end to a five-game losing streak and spoil Skyline’s postseason hopes.
The Coyotes just have too much to play for this week to have a hangover after losing out on the region title.
Skyline 28, Dobson 7
Desert Ridge (8-1, 4-0) at Highland (7-2, 3-1)
Both teams have played at a higher than the preseason expectations.
The Hawks can force a three-way tie at the top of the Central Region standings with Mountain Pointe being the third team.
The second tie breaker is conference win percentage followed by overall win percentage and power rankings.
If the Highland defense holds up, it has been the team’s strong point, against Desert Ridge the tie breakers just might have to be implemented.
The Jaguars won’t let it come to that.
Desert Ridge 28, Highland 14
Red Mountain (7-2, 4-0) at Westwood (4-5, 1-3)
The Mountain Lions have the East Valley Region title wrapped up and Westwood is playing for its first non-losing season since 2014.
Red Mountain will be without quarterback Cannon Griner after being ejected last week so Garret Strehl will get some time with Lance Lawson doing his thing from the wildcat.
The Warriors have had their ups and downs. They will up to play the region champs, but the Mountain Lions are playing too well to have a slip up just before the playoffs.
Red Mountain 31, Westwood 10
Mesa (4-6, 2-2) at Mountain View (5-4, 2-2)
This one determines third place in the East Valley Region standings.
The Jackrabbits won last week without star running back Kris Jackson, but will need him to be his usual hard-running self against the Toros, who need to this win to have a chance to make the playoffs.
The Toros enter the final week at No. 16 in the power rankings, but face the possibility of being pushed out of the bracket by two region champions that are either outside the top 16 or just barely in.
It means to be safe Mountain View needs to win and we can’t see Mountain View coming up short in this scenario.
Mountain View 35, Mesa 21
The rest of the 6A Conference schedule (predicted winner in bold):
Cesar Chavez at Alhambra
Desert Mountain at Boulder Creek
Hamilton at Chandler
Corona del Sol at Desert Vista
North at Maryvale
Gilbert at Mountain Pointe
Basha at Perry
Horizon at Pinnacle
Marana at Rincon
Mountain Ridge at Sandra Day O’Connor
Kofa at Sunnyside
La Joya at Tolleson
Central at Trevor Browne
Cibola at Tucson
Millennium at Valley Vista
Copper Canyon at Westview
Last week: 18-3. Season’s record: 160-56 (.741)
– Jason P. Skoda is a senior writer for MyNewsMesa.com. Send Mesa-based story ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org.