There were no surprises in the opening round of the Arizona State Class 3A state football tournament.
Most every favorite won, setting the stage for what could be a wild and wooly second round. Those quarterfinal games will be contested Nov. 10 at Mesa College and a site yet to be determined.
Among the most anticipated clashes will be East champion and unbeaten Round Valley against South runner-up, Coolidge.
Coolidge is widely considered the most talented team in 3A, but lost in midseason to Chandler Seton Catholic. The powerful Elks were never really tested in the regular season, but could find the Bears to be a worthy opponent.
Also of great interest will be the Wickenburg vs. Lakeside Blue Ridge and Show Low vs. Seton clashes.
Wickenburg enters the fray -- top ranked and unbeaten -- but Blue Ridge has history and tradition on its side.
The Yellow Jackets limped into the playoffs as the East's third seed but with the return of several injured players and the presence of Payson-transfer Steel Armstrong in the lineup, Blue Ridge could make a run at the title.
Show Low lost just once this year -- to Round Valley -- but has a talented lineup and an outstanding running back in Derek Brewer.
Seton is considered in many football circles as a powerhouse.
In the final second round match up, Winslow -- who eliminated Snowflake 39-27 in the first round -- will take on Fountain Hills.
The survivors of the quarterfinals advance to the final four to be played Nov. 17.
The two winners there meet in the 3A state championship at 4 p.m. Nov. 24 at Tempe McClintock High School.
All-region, all-state and all-stars
The end of the regular season means it's time for coaches to gather and select all-region players.
Down the road, all-state and Arizona Coaches Association North vs. South All-Star team members will be chosen. In the ACA balloting, only seniors are allowed to be named. In all region and all-state voting, all varsity players are eligible.
All-region voting is an interesting, sometimes unscientific, process that usually differs from region to region and sport to sport.
The first time I traveled as a head football coach to an all-star selection meeting, I was more than a bit puzzled about what I would be facing.
I'd heard there would be some politicking as strong-willed coaches battled to get postseason honors for their players.
But, I thought I was well armed with all the stats I needed and a strong knowledge of the region's best players.
What I didn't know, is that I would be suckered in like a large mouth bass chasing a lure at Roosevelt Lake.
When it came down to voting for a defensive end I'd placed into the selection process against a player at the same position from another school, I began by touting my kid's accomplishments to those coaches in attendance.
A seasoned, grizzly coach who represented the opposing player listened politely, then snorted in retaliation, "How much does your kid bench press?"
"Three hundred pounds," I said.
He replied, "Mine can do 350." He then asked, "What is your kid's 40 times?"
I answered, "4.8."
He said, "Mine can do 4.6."
This went on for several more minutes as his kid trumped my nominee at every turn.
Needless to say, his player was chosen to the all-star team.
The following year, I returned to the meeting all the wiser.
When that same coach asked me again how much my all-star nominee bench pressed, I replied, "You tell me what your player benches and then I tell you what mine can do."
I'm not a rocket scientist, but even I could tell that cagey, cunning coach had outwitted me last season.
AIA to honor ‘81 team
The Arizona Interscholastic Association will honor 1981 PHS football state championship players during halftime of the Class 3A state championship game, which kicks off at 4 p.m. Nov. 24 at Tempe McClintock High School. The game was originally scheduled to be played at Sun Devil Stadium, but the site was changed late this week.
If you are planning to attend, please call me, Max Foster, at (928) 474-5251, ext. 114 or e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. Your name will then be put on the guest list and forwarded to the AIA. Also, if you know the whereabouts of any former team members, please contact them about the reunion.