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 30

Boys Golf (3 p.m.)

Mountain View at Haven Golf Course

Ironwood Ridge, Buena, Catalina at Rincon (Dell Urich)

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

Marana at CDO

Maricopa at Mountain View

Ironwood Ridge at Vista Grande

Poston Butte at Catalina Foothills

San Miguel at Pusch Ridge

Freshman Football (6 p.m.)

Maricopa at Marana

Wednesday, October 1

Girls Golf (3 p.m.)

Mountain View vs. Ironwood Ridge (Omnu Tucson National)

CDO, Sunnyside at Flowing Wells (Silverbell)

Sabino at Catalina Foothills

Cross Country (4:30 p.m.)

Ironwood Ridge, Sahuarita at Flowing Wells (Columbus Park)

Marana, St. Gregory at Catalina Foothills

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

CDO at Ironwood Ridge

Freshman Football (6 p.m.)

Mountain View at Salpointe

Catalina Foothills at CDO

JV Football (6.p.m.)

Marana at Maricopa

Salpointe at Mountain View

CDO at Catalina Foothills

Thursday, October 2

Swimming (4 p.m.)

Mountain View, St. Gregory’s, Pusch Ridge at Marana

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

Mountain View at Poston Butte

Catalina Foothills at Flowing Wells

Pusch Ridge at Willcox

Varsity Football (7p.m.)

Maricopa at Marana

Mountain View at Salpointe

Catalina Foothills @ CDO

Ironwood Ridge at Rincon

Friday, October 3

Boys Golf (all day)

CDO, Ironwood Ridge at Santa Rita/Flowing Wells Invitational

Girls Vollyeball (all day)

CDO, Catalina Foothills at Falcon Invitational

Cross Country

Catalina Foothills, CDO, Ironwood Ridge at Desert Twilight Festival

Varsity Footbal (7 p.m.)

Pusch Ridge at San Tan Valley

Saturday, October 4

Boys Golf (all day)

CDO at Santa Rita/Flowing Wells Invitational

Swimming (all day)

Catalina Foothills, CDO, Ironwood Ridge at Brophy/Xavier Swim Invitational

Girls Volleyball (4 p.m.)

Pusch Ridge at Desert Christian

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