The season is winding down for most.
Only 16 of the 40 6A Conference football programs will be playing into November.
How will those teams on the outside of the playoff picture handle the final two games?
Most seniors only have 96 minutes of football left in their careers and some have already played their last game in front of the home crowd.
It can be an emotional time as they walk out of the locker room for the last time.
Coaches must deal with the balancing act of staying in the now while looking toward next year. Does he play out the string with a senior or does an underclassman get some snaps, or even a start, so he can get a taste of what the varsity game is like?
While the teams playing for region titles or a final playoff spot get most of the attention, the lower level teams are doing things now with hopes of becoming more relevant in 2018.
Here is a look at this week’s games:
Dobson (3-5, 0-3) at Mesa (3-6, 1-2)
The Jackrabbits took on the region’s top two teams – Skyline and Red Mountain – in back-to-back weeks and didn’t have an answer.
Meanwhile, Dobson has plenty of questions after three blowout losses since East Valley Region action started.
The Mesa defense has a chance to take over this game as Dobson scored only 21 points in three games in region play.
Mesa 31, Dobson 14
Desert Vista (5-3, 1-2) at Desert Ridge (7-1, 3-0)
The Jaguars announced to the rest of the 6A Conference last week that they are not to be bypassed when state title contenders are discussed.
Beating Mountain Pointe caught everyone’s attention and now it is time to build off it.
It won’t come easy as there is no let up this week against the Thunder and Highland next week.
The Jaguars moved into No. 2 in the Arizona Interscholastic Association power rankings and winning out just might be enough to push Desert Ridge to No. 1 along with the fact that the current top team – Hamilton – still must take on No. 5 Perry and No. 4 Chandler.
Desert Ridge control its own destiny for the Central Region title and will clinch at least a tie with a win this week.
Desert Ridge 34, Desert Vista 17
Mountain View (4-4, 1-2) at Westwood (4-4, 1-2)
The Toros need to finish strong to establish themselves as the clear No. 3 team in the East Valley Region along with getting into the top 14 (currently No. 17) to assure themselves a playoff spot.
Westwood wouldn’t mind providing a detour to Mountain View’s path while creating a higher standard for the program.
The Warriors will make it interesting, but Mountain View finds a way to win this one going away.
Mountain View 28, Westwood 10
Skyline (5-3, 3-0) at Red Mountain (6-2, 3-0)
Boy, oh, boy, oh boy.
This is the type of game that gets everyone fired up and focused. A chance to play for a championship gets everyone all stirred up. The ability to use that extra energy in a positive way usually leads to a team coming out on top.
Red Mountain has been fantastic of late and has overwhelmed its last five opponents. The defense has been devastating, keeping the opponent out of rhythm from the start while the offense has found new life no matter who is behind center.
Skyline won a tough game against Mountain View to be in this position and had last week off to heal up and game plan for the Mountain Lions, who lost the regular season game last year but won a first-round rematch.
The gut says Red Mountain is playing at a different level than anyone else in the region, but the Coyotes have proved to be at their best when counted out.
Both of last year’s games were low scoring, but this one isn’t going to follow suit.
Big plays galore.
Mostly from Red Mountain on the way to the East Valley Region championship.
Red Mountain 28, Skyline 24
The rest of the 6A Conference schedule:
Maryvale at Alhambra
Chandler at Brophy
Trevor Browne at Cesar Chavez
Tolleson at Copper Canyon
Mountain Pointe at Corona del Sol
Sandra Day O’Connor at Desert Mountain
Highland at Gilbert
Boulder Creek at Horizon
Lee Williams at Kofa
Valley Vista at La Joya
Westview at Millennium
Pinnacle at Mountain Ridge
Central at North
Hamilton at Perry
Sunnyside at Sahuaro
Rincon at Tucson
Cibola at Yuma
Last week: 16-3. Season’s record: 142-53 (.716)
– Jason P. Skoda is a senior writer for MyNewsMesa.com. Send Mesa-based story ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org.