Westview is the interloper in the 6A Conference bracket.
A 15th seed in the quarterfinals, just one win away from the state semifinals, doesn’t happen often, but lower seeds have had their day over the years in the state’s biggest classification.
Mountain Ridge made the state title game as the 16th seed in 2004, while Desert Vista made the state title game in 2007 as the 11th seed.
Red Mountain made the semifinals as a 13th seed last year so the Mountain Lions know exactly what it is like to come into a game as an underdog only to come out on top.
“No one expected us to do anything, but once we got rolling we got a taste of it,” Red Mountain senior Gabe Williams said.
Additionally, Red Mountain was a 15th seed when it beat No. 2 Mountain Ridge in the first round in 2003 and in 2002 the 13, 11 and 10 seeds all were first-round victors.
Can the Knights keep it going in 2017?
No. 15 Westview (6-5) at No. 7 Red Mountain (9-2) – Westview has won two straight in the series, but the two teams haven’t played since 2014.
The two programs split the four-game series with Red Mountain winning the first two.
The Knights and their old-school offense known as the Wing-T is the key to all their success – that and the five turnovers they created to top No. 2 Desert Ridge in the first round – over the years no matter who the coach or the running backs are at the time.
The Knights scored 34 and 21 points against the Mountain Lions’ defense in the wins when the head coach Mike Peterson was the defensive coordinator, and Westview averaged 258.5 yards on the ground.
As you’d expect in the Red Mountain wins, the Westview running game wasn’t as effective as the Knights still averaged a hefty 174.0 yards a game, while averaging 25 points.
One of the keys to Red Mountain’s nine-game win streak has been an aggressive defensive front.
It will be interesting to see how fast they get up the field while the Knights try to whiz past them with misdirection plays. Can they stay aggressive, and stay in their gap without getting caught looking into the backfield?
The Knights got a break last week when Desert Ridge’s running quarterback – Cooper Schmidt – missed the game because of a concussion.
That won’t be the case this week as Cannon Griner runs from behind center and of course so does Lance Lawson.
The Knights run as 15th seed depends on keeping the ball in their hands, shortening the game and keeping the Red Mountain offense on the sideline.
The Mountain Lions will do enough to make their second straight semifinal.
Red Mountain 35, Westview 14.
Here is a look at the rest of the 6A Conference games:
No. 8 Highland (8-3) at No. 1 Mountain Pointe (9-2) – The Hawks led 13-0 at the half in the regular season, but Mountain Pointe made some adjustments and snuck by with a 14-13 win. The Pride is shaping into championship form and will get their 10th win/semifinal appearance for the ninth time in 10 years. Mountain Pointe, 21-13.
No. 5 Hamilton (8-3) at No. 4 Perry (10-1) – The last two meetings between these two programs have totaled 251 points and Perry has won the last three against the Huskies by averaging 61 points per game. Clearly Hamilton needs to do something different. Maybe next year. Perry, 56-42.
No. 6 Pinnacle (9-3) at No. 3 Chandler (9-2) – The Wolves have more defense than Pinnacle, Hamilton and Perry combined so this one won’t be as much of a shootout. Went to OT the first time but that was without Chandler quarterback Jacob Conover and some others. Chandler, 42-28.
Last week: 7-1. Season’s record: 183-61 (.750)
– Jason P. Skoda is a senior writer for MyNewsMesa.com. Send Mesa-based story ideas to email@example.com.