– Jason P. Skoda is a senior writer for MyNewsMesa.com. Send Mesa-based story ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org.
It is so easy to forget on Friday nights how young high school football players are underneath all that padding.
But when you see a team play so out of character it is a quick reminder that the players range anywhere between 14-18.
Emotion, immaturity and lack of life experience that all teenagers have can spark up without a second’s notice.
It is one of the thoughts we had after watching Red Mountain get blasted by Hamilton in a game that most expected to be competitive, if not won by Red Mountain.
Instead the running clock was instituted in the first half after the Huskies went up 42-0.
By no means is Hamilton that much more talented than Red Mountain.
The Huskies came out in sync and playing at a high level. The Mountain Lions did not have an answer and were as flat as the blades of grass they were picking out of their helmets.
Red Mountain had an odd offseason during the head coach search. Sources said one candidate accepted, but eventually passed for a different East Valley job. Another was approached to take over the program, but said no after he couldn’t bring at least one of his coaches with him.
Mike Peterson, who was the defensive coordinator, took over the job. From an outside view, regardless of the 0-2 start, he is a good fit, but his hiring meant a defensive coordinator had to come in as well. Additionally, two coaches were hired to run the offense.
It was a lot of speculation and change for one offseason even though the eventual coach was hired within. It makes us wonder how the young players digested it all, and can it affect the season despite having a whole offseason to accept and get used to it?
Probably not, but it is one of the things that popped in our head while watching Red Mountain get dismantled.
Peterson was open about the changes he’s tried to make and how it might have been a lot for the players to accept.
“I thought to (become a state champion) we had to be tougher, a little more hard-nosed and a little more disciplined,” he said after the game. “That discipline that I am going to instill week by week required me to suspend some players for this game, and now I am in a predicament that could be the worse predicament. I changed (the culture) so fast that they won’t play for me.”
It doesn’t seem likely. It was more of anomaly. Chances are the Mountain Lions will have a good moment soon where all the tension leaves the sideline and the season starts heading in the other direction.
Here is a look at this week’s 6A games:
Dobson (2-0) at Gilbert (1-1)
Dobson has its third straight road game to open the season and the Mustangs are playing with a lot of confidence in the early going after winning at Rincon and Central.
Clearly, Gilbert is a step up in level of play but don’t expect the Mustangs to be overwhelmed by it.
Although Dobson lost its senior starting quarterback Mike Valdez to a torn ACL on the first drive last week.
Junior quarterback Nicolas Saro, a transfer from Marcos de Niza, is more of a shotgun quarterback, which is different than Pete Wahlheim’s normal offensive set.
There will be a transition period, although they did OK on fly last week.
Gilbert has one of the better quarterbacks in the state in Jack Plummer as the offense has scored 75 points in two games. The Tigers lost to a good 5A Campo Verde squad last week after beating 5A Mesquite in Week One.
Dobson won a close game last year and with Pete Wahlheim knowing Gilbert so well after 10 years at Highland, the Mustangs are in position to go to 3-0.
The QB situation has me leaning toward the Tigers.
Gilbert 21, Dobson 17
Desert Ridge (2-0) at Hamilton (2-1)
The Jaguars played a well-rounded game in Week 2 to shutout Tucson after sloppily beating Brophy to open the season.
Hamilton crushed Red Mountain last week after losing to 5A Queen Creek the week before. It makes you wonder which team is going to show up this week. Then against maybe Queen Creek is just that good.
Desert Ridge dual quarterback situation is a bit of an unknown, too, considering Cooper Schmidt outplayed Matt Purnell in the first game, but Purnell came back and was 7 for 7 with three touchdowns and 195 yards last week.
Not sure how that is going to play out, but it is clear the Jaguars defense is the strength of the team. If they keep getting hard-nose play out of Desha Bennett, Chris Medeiros, and Donjae Logan the Jaguars are going to be tough to beat.
Hamilton looked unbeatable last week with the defense shutting out Red Mountain until the fourth quarter when plenty of subs were in the game, but it was the play of the offense that caught our attention.
Through three weeks, quarterback Tyler Shough was the best signal caller we’ve seen and Jawhar Jordan has emerged into the stud everyone expected when he showed flashes as a sophomore running back two years ago.
We can’t shake how good Hamilton looked last week, and expect them to keep it rolling, in a classic back-and-forth game.
Hamilton 35, Desert Ridge 34
Mountain View (2-0) at Pinnacle (2-1)
The Toros won easily the first week, and had to win in the fourth quarter last week against Corona del Sol with both a defensive and special teams touchdown to seal the win.
Mountain View better reach a higher gear this week because Pinnacle has been one of the most impressive teams in the state so far even in an overtime defeat to Chandler last week.
Quarterback Spencer Rattler and the Batten brothers have something brewing in North Phoenix.
The Toros can use this one as a barometer to see where they stand. They might find out they are step above Pinnacle and use it to show Mountain View is ready to be among the top programs in 6A.
The Pinnacle defense tends to get overlooked with the big names on offense, but the Pioneers held Brophy and Basha to a combined 10 points in the first two games.
Mountain View will better that total but not by much.
Pinnacle 31, Mountain View 17
6A Conference schedule (predicted winners in bold)
Skyline at Desert Vista
Red Mountain at Basha
Mesa at Tolleson
Westwood at Maryvale
Queen Creek at Boulder Creek
Rincon at Buena
Carl Hayden at Central
Mountain Pointe at Chandler
Cesar Chavez at Corona del Sol
Millennium at Desert Edge
Cibola at Gila Ridge
Brophy at Highland
Westview at Horizon
Southwest (Cali) at Kofa
Mountain Ridge at La Joya
Fairfax at North
Sandra Day O’Connor at Perry
Copper Canyon at Sierra Linda
Alhambra at South Mountain
Marana Mountain View at Sunnyside
Camelback at Trevor Browne
Salpointe Catholic at Tucson
Shadow Ridge at Valley Vista
Last week: 12-12. Season’s record: 38-26 (.594)