The game of hot potato with the Northwest League lead continued Friday night, and it’s now back where it began.
Centennial got the early jump on the league by defeating five-time defending Northwest champion Arbor View, but the inside track to the title has been passed around to Faith Lutheran, Arbor View and Palo Verde.
Centennial coach Dustin Forshee said his team was checking for results on Twitter on the bus ride home from its 49-6 win over Bonanza on Friday. The Bulldogs liked what they saw, with Palo Verde knocking off Faith Lutheran 55-35.
With one week left, Centennial has the lead again.
“I don’t know if we thought (the lead) would come back,” Forshee said. “We felt OK that somebody was going to get somebody because everybody’s so close. I thought Shadow (Ridge) might have a shot to knock off somebody. Obviously, Palo has been playing well, and we got the help we need.”
Those results, plus Arbor View’s 45-14 win over Shadow Ridge on Thursday, threw Centennial, Arbor View and Palo Verde into a three-way tie. Since Centennial has defeated the other two, it simply needs a win over a Cimarron-Memorial team that is out of the playoff race to claim its first league title since 2002 and the No. 1 seed.
Forshee isn’t putting that one in the win column just yet, particularly with how the Spartans pushed Arbor View. Cimarron led 20-7 in the fourth quarter, but the Aggies rallied for a 26-20 overtime win.
“Cimarron-Memorial is a well-coached team, and they’ve got some good players,” Forshee said. “They’ve got (Jordan) Norwood at running back, they’re always pretty big up front and they have a quarterback (Branden Smith) who can throw and is about as fast as they come. They always play us tough.”
Should the Bulldogs win, the winner of the Arbor View-Palo Verde game will be second and the loser will fall to third. Faith Lutheran will finish fourth and is locked into a matchup against Northeast League No. 1 Desert Pines in the first round of the Mountain Region playoffs.
Las Vegas has clinched second in the Northeast, and the winner of Friday’s game between Legacy and Canyon Springs will determine the No. 3 and 4 seeds.
“It’s been our mantra that we want to play for a state championship. I think our region’s playoffs are going to be the most exciting,” Forshee said. “Getting the No. 1 seed would be big, since we’d be able to play at home. We’re on the rotation where we don’t have to play anybody from the North or Desert, whoever wins our region is in the state championship game.”
What we learned
It’s all Sunrise in Class 3A.
In the first week of the 3A playoffs, the Sunrise League went 2-0.
Boulder City, the Sunrise’s No. 2 seed, defeated Del Sol 21-16 and will play Sunset League champion Cheyenne next week.
The other matchup wasn’t as exciting. Sunrise No. 3 seed Moapa Valley rolled past host Pahrump Valley, the Sunset’s second seed, 35-0.
Moapa Valley gets a second chance at Sunrise champion and rival Virgin Valley next week. The Pirates had three drives stall in the red zone and lost to Virgin Valley 28-19 on Oct. 24.
First glance ahead
While the Northwest and Northeast leagues finish the regular season, the Desert Region playoffs begin.
Bishop Gorman cruised to the Southwest League title, its 12th consecutive crown. The 10-time defending state champion outscored its league foes 368-6 in six games. The Gaels will meet a Coronado team that is in the playoffs for the first time since 2015 as the fourth seed from the Southeast.
Liberty had a difficult out-of-state schedule and started 0-5, but had no issues in Southeast play. The Patriots put away their league foes to the tune of 231-17 and will open against surprising Clark. The Chargers had won four games combined over the past three seasons but went 6-4 and grabbed the Southwest’s fourth seed.
Green Valley struggled offensively for much of the season, but has scored 116 points in the past three games, all victories, to secure the Southeast’s No. 2 seed. It will meet Durango, the Southwest’s third-place team. The Gators defeated the Trailblazers 39-3 on Aug. 30.
Silverado, the Southwest’s No. 2 seed, features one of the valley’s top running backs in Aginae Cunningham. The running game has been the key to the Skyhawks scoring 49 or more points four times. They will meet Foothill, the Southeast’s No. 3 seed, which has lost three straight games.