Basic's football team was an afterthought in the Southeast League for much of the season.
Attention focused on league leaders Liberty and Foothill, upstart Green Valley and traditional power Del Sol.
But the Wolves clawed into the playoffs by knocking off Del Sol in the final week of the regular season, and now face a rival in the Sunrise Region semifinals.
Basic (6-4) plays at Foothill (8-2) at 7 p.m. today for a berth in the Sunrise title game.
"We told the kids just get in the tournament however we've got to get in," Basic coach Jeff Cahill said. "It doesn't matter what order you play the teams, you're going to have to play them all anyway."
Basic started the postseason last week by ousting Northeast League champion Canyon Springs, 42-21. Now it faces a Henderson rival just a couple of miles down the road.
"I know they're a tough team and they're really good, but we were hoping they'd win, and I think (Foothill coach Marty Redmond) felt the same way over there," Cahill said. "Because the atmosphere at the game is going to be what high school football is all about. We'll have our whole school over there, they'll have their whole school over there. It's something that, especially in this valley, kids don't always get to experience. I think it's going to be special."
The matchup on the field figures to be special, too. During the regular season, the visiting Falcons rallied with two fourth-quarter touchdowns to beat Basic 42-35 on Oct. 21. The Wolves led 28-7 in the second quarter.
"We feel like we're as good as they are," Cahill said. "I thought the first game proved it. We were back and forth, and I think it's going to be the same type of game."
Basic should get a boost from a healthy Eddie Vega. The senior quarterback was having what Cahill called "one of his better games" in the first matchup before being knocked unconscious and taken away in an ambulance.
After missing the regular-season finale, Vega returned to throw for 242 yards and three touchdowns against Canyon Springs.
Vega said he's excited for another crack at Foothill.
"They beat us on our home field," Vega said. "Now we want to go back and beat them on their home field.
"I'm extremely happy to be able to finish the year playing and hopefully finish with a win."
Basic becomes more dangerous with Vega back in the mix. Without him, running back Antraye Johnson had to move to quarterback and the team became more one-dimensional.
With Vega back under center, dynamic receivers Devonte Boyd (56 catches, 948 yards) and Darien Spencer (39 catches, 523 yards) should be more involved in the offense.
"It's going to be a handful for them to stop it," Vega said of the Basic offense, which has averaged 29.5 points. "We come out in the same formation, and we can do 30 things out of it."
Stopping Foothill won't be a picnic, either. The Falcons average 34.9 points and have scored 30 or more points in seven of 10 games.
Vega said the expected packed house should make the game even more exciting.
"Everybody's going to try to go out and make big plays, whether it's us or them," Vega said. "It should be a shootout."
Contact prep sports editor Damon Seiters at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-380-4587.