Arizona high school football teams have begun releasing their varsity schedules. And there are some pop-out games that have fans excited.
Not just great matchups with out-of-state teams. But some great in-state showdowns.
At the top of the list is Week 4, when Scottsdale Saguaro and Chandler meet in a rematch of the 2021 Open Division state championship game.
Saguaro won its first Open title 20-15, ending Chandler’s five-year streak of holding up gold footballs at the end of seasons and its two-year Open Division reign.
Saguaro will travel to play Chandler on Sept. 23 with 2023 quarterback Devon Dampier back at the wheel and with big-play wide receiver Derik English back after suffering a season-ending torn anterior cruciate ligament in his knee midway through last season.
Chandler will be led by 2024 quarterback Dylan Raiola, a transfer from Texas’ Burleson, where he had a huge sophomore season and his recruiting ramped up with major-college offers, making him a five-star recruit and most recruited quarterback in Chandler history.
By the time these teams meet, they both could be ranked among the top 25 in the nation.
Saguaro is making the move up from 5A to 6A this football season.
“They’re the defending Open Division champions and the state of Arizona deserves high school football matchups that can have national implications,” Chandler coach Rick Garretson said. “Should be an exciting night of 6A football.”
Saguaro coach Jason Mohns looks forward to the matchup. His team opens at home Sept. 2 against national powerhouse Bergen Catholic out of New Jersey. Following the Chandler game, Saguaro will play Peoria Liberty, which lost in the Open Division semifinals the past two seasons in overtime to Chandler.
Saguaro also gets Queen Creek, an Open Division team last year, in Week 2. This will be the most difficult season Saguaro has had since Mohns took over the program 10 years ago.
“Three Open Division teams in a five-week span,” Mohns said. “Also playing the No. 3 team in the country from 2021 to open the season, as well as the 6A champs (Gilbert Highland on Oct. 21) and the 6A runnerups (Scottsdale Chaparral on Oct. 28).”
The defending state champs, who are expected to open the season ranked among the top 25 in the nation, also plays Phoenix Sandra Day O’Connor (Sept. 16), Goodyear Desert Edge (Oct. 7), Phoenix Pinnacle (Nov. 4) and Phoenix Brophy Prep (Nov. 11).
“Not a single weak opponent on our schedule,” Mohns said. “Our players and coaches are fired up for the challenge.”
Chandler opens at Cathedral Catholic in the Honor Bowl in the San Diego area on Sept. 2. The Wolves play host to Tempe Corona del Sol on Sept. 9, at Scottsdale Notre Dame on Sept. 16, host to Mesa Red Mountain on Sept. 30, at Queen Creek Casteel on Oct. 7, before having a bye.
After the break, the Wolves play at Mesa Mountain View on Oct. 21, host to Chandler Basha on Oct. 28, host to Gilbert Perry on Nov. 4 and finish at Chandler Hamilton on Nov. 11.
Each 6A football team has at least one game scheduled against a 5A team.
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