CRAIG GRAU: Happy New Year - The Explorer: Sports

CRAIG GRAU: Happy New Year

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Posted: Tuesday, August 19, 2008 11:00 pm | Updated: 8:01 am, Thu Mar 24, 2011.

If it weren’t 100 degrees outside, you could hear ice thawing.

Fans of the pigskin wonderland yawn from hibernation, adapted to a calendar as foreign to the football illiterate as any Chinese or Hebrew chronology.

When high school kickers place footballs in tees, Aug. 29 becomes the new Jan. 1.

So find an aluminum patch of bleacher. Kick back and ignore the kinetic middle schoolers.

An entire summer’s two-a-day practices will unfold in spiraling endorphins, swaying poms, cheap hot dogs and dashed — albeit, unlikely — hopes of perfect seasons.

Prep football seasons offer their communities a rallying point, a reason to prop elbows on the fence and chat with neighbors about Friday’s game.

That’s a blessing.

Having several teams in the Northwest stocked with playoff potential is what electro-rockers Depeche Mode once called a “Personal Jesus.”

And if you’re betting, it helps to have divinity lining your pocket.

Just remember — predictions are man’s setup for cosmic punchlines.

Ironwood Ridge: Driven by revenge and senior will, the Nighthawks’ sole regular season loss comes at home, from Willow Canyon. Then they get angrier, cannibalize Sunnyside, and make state. Finish: 12-2, first in 5A Southern-II, state runner-ups.

Marana: Despite plenty of heart and defense, the Tigers step down a notch after losing key playmakers and much of their offense. Their region’s not the place for a rebuilding season. Finish: 5-5, third in 4A Sonoran, no playoffs.

Pusch Ridge: Good genes, experience and enthusiasm should carry the Knights a notch further this year. Traditional rivals play spoiler role. Finish: 9-3, second in 2A South, quarterfinals win.

Catalina Foothills: The sleeper of the bunch. Solid athleticism giddy with fresh leadership and new tools lead the feel-good Falcons to an upset over Santa Rita. Finish: 7-4, second in 4A Sonoran, first-round playoff exit.

Mountain View: The coin toss. Heads in the game, tails need to hustle. Many moving pieces, with solid line and wise leaders. Finish: 6-4, third in 5A Southern-II, first round playoff exit.

CDO: Gas squared. Outpunch them on the scoreboard, and they’re beatable. Sort of. And good luck. Finish: 12-2, first in 4A Sonoran, state runner-ups.

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HS Schedule

Tuesday, September 16

Boys Golf (@ 3 p.m.)

Buena, Cienega at Marana

Mountain View, Ironwood Ridge, Catalina at Amphi (Silverbell GC)

Catalina Foothills, Pueblo, Sahuarita at Sahuaro

Girls Volleyball (Fr 4 p.m., JV 5 p.m., Var 6 p.m. unless otherwise noted)

Mountain View at Rio Rico

Ironwood Ridge at Glendale Ironwood

Swimming (@4 p.m.)

Pusch Ridge, Sahuarita at Desert Christian

Wednesday, September 17

Girls Golf (@ 3 p.m.)

Rincon at CDO

Ironwood Ridge, Desert View at Flowing Wells (Silverbell)

Cross Country (@4:30)

Salpointe at Catalina Foothills

Palo Verde, Nogales at Marana

Rincon, St. Gregory at CDO

Sahuarita, Pueblo, Pusch Ridge at Desert View

Girls Volleyball (Fr 4 p.m., JV 5 p.m., Var 6 p.m. unless otherwise noted)

Empire at Marana (4:30, 5:30, 6:30)

CDO at Queen Creek

Cienega at Mountain View

Sahuaro at Catalina Foothills

Walden Grove at Pusch Ridge

Thursday, September 18

Girls Golf

CDO, Ironwood Ridge at Phoenix Aguila Invitational (all day)

Boys Golf

Sahuaro and Salpointe at Ironwood Ridge

CDO, Rincon, Sunnyside at Tucson High

Girls Volleyball (Fr 4 p.m., JV 5 p.m., Var 6 p.m. unless otherwise noted)

Marana at Sahuarita

Ironwood Ridge at Sahuaro (4:30, 5:30, 6:30)

Catalina Foothills at Rincon

Pusch Ridge at San Manuel

Swimming (4 p.m.)

Marana vs. Tucson at Quincy Douglas Pool

Cienega at Marana

CDO, Ironwood Ridge at Amphi

Catalina Foothills at Sahuaro

Freshman Football (all games at 6 p.m. unless otherwise noted)

Flowing Wells at Marana (4 p.m.)

Desert View at Mountain View

Cienega at CDO

Ironwood Ridge at Buena

Catalina Foothills at Sahuarita

JV Football (all games at 6 p.m. unless otherwise noted)

Amphi at Marana

Santa Cruz Valley at Pusch Ridge

Mountain View at Desert View

CDO at Cienega

Buena at Ironwood Ridge

Sahuarita at Catalina Foothills

Friday, September 19

Boys Golf

Catalina Foothills, Ironwood Ridge, CDO, at Phoenix Aguila Invitational (all day)

Cross Country

Mountain View, Ironwood Ridge at Mt. Carmel Invitational (San Diego, CA)

Girls Volleyball

CDO at Westwood Tournament of Champions

Football (@7 p.m.)

Pusch Ridge at Santa Cruz Valley

Catalina at Marana

Desert Vista at Mountain View

Ironwood Ridge at Buena

Cienega at CDO

Catalina Foothills at Sahuarita

Saturday, September 20

Boys Golf

Catalina Foothills, Ironwood Ridge, CDO, at Phoenix Aguila Invitational (all day)

Cross Country

Marana at Old Pueblo Invite(Lincoln Park)

Mountain View at San Diego

Catalina Foothills, CDO at Ojo Rojo (Chandler, AZ)


Marana at Wolves Classic (Chandler High)

Girls Volleyball

CDO at Westwood Tournament of Champions


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