Red Mountain, ALA-Queen Creek set for important East Valley Region clash
October 5, 2023 by Ben Stapley, AZPreps365
Like many schools around the Valley this week, American Leadership Academy-Queen Creek is enjoying Fall break.
But for the football team it’s business as usual, as another powerful 6A opponent awaits.
Tonight the Patriots will continue their inaugural 6A odyssey as they host Red Mountain.
The stakes are high for both teams.
Red Mountain (4-2, 1-1) is coming off a tough loss to defending 6A champ Highland. The Mountain Lions had the Hawks on the ropes last week, leading 15-10 with five minutes left in the game before Highland rallied for two late scores.
ALA Queen Creek (5-1) continues to surprise everyone but themselves. After falling to Saguaro 49-35 in week one, the Patriots have reeled off five straight wins, including a 28-0 shellacking of Mountain Pointe last week, putting them at No. 4 in the current Open Division playoff seedings. Red Mountain is further down at 16.
A lot can happen in the four remaining weeks, but Red Mountain coach Kyle Enders knows what his team is up against tonight.
“This week was my first time watching ALA on film, but right away it’s easy to see how well coached they are, Enders said.
“They run good schemes on both sides of the ball that work well for their strengths and the type of athletes they have.”
Red Mountain will have its hands full dealing with quarterback Enoch Watson. The Brigham Young commit has led the ALA Queen Creek offense efficiently with nearly 1,700 passing yards and 21 touchdowns against three interceptions.
Jayden Williams, Taylor Searle and Boe Sparks are Watson’s favorite targets. Offensive coordinator Max Hall is still trying to find more balance with a rushing attack, but the pass-first philosophy has best suited the Patriots.
Red Mountain has also relied on creative playmaking offensively. Junior quarterback Simon Lopez unexpectedly stepped into the starting role just before the season began.
“He’s played really well overall,” Enders said of Lopez, who became the starter when senior captain Kyle Heap suffered an injury to his throwing shoulder in August.
With Heap slowly getting back into action, Lopez has proven an effective dual threat, throwing for nearly 1,100 yards while also leading Red Mountain in rushing yards with 291.
The Lions offense got a boost last week with Apache Junction transfer Isaiah Savoie getting his first action of the season.
The running back did most of his damage out of the backfield, catching seven passes for 105 yards.
“We’ve got a tough challenge and we’re gonna have to play smart and disciplined football,” Enders added.
‘Exorcising’ Toro Ghosts?
If Mesa High is going to finally beat long time rival Mountain View, October might be as good a time as any.The Toros have haunted Mesa on the football field going on 29 years.1994 was the last time the Jackrabbits beat the Toros, who hold a 40-6-1 all time record vs. Mesa since they first played in1978.
For Mesa’s current players, all that matters is the present.
“That’s obviously a long time, but all we can do is focus on the game at hand,” Mesa senior McKy Peters said this week.
While a win for the Jackrabbits (4-2, 1-0) would certainly give cause for cerebration, it would also give Mesa an early edge in the 6A Fiesta region race.
Mesa running back Junior St. Cyr (18) leads the Jackrabbit rushing attack. Photo by Darin SicurelloBut taking down the Toros (4-2, 1-1) won’t be easy for the host Jackrabbits.
Mountain View quarterback Jack Germaine poses a tough test for any secondary, and spreads it around to all his receivers. Mikey Sumko (24), Gunner Gornik (22) and Hodden Marks (21) have combined for 67 receptions.
Mesa will have to rely on the powerful running style of leading rusher Junior St. Cyr (836 yards) to anchor its offense.
Adding to the intrigue is potential playing time for Mesa quarterback Nevan Fitzgerald.
The junior saw his first action of the season last week after transferring from Mountain View last season, where he started several games late in the season after Germaine went down to injury.
Other Thursday night action includes Dobson visiting Skyline, while Westwood travels to Caesar Chavez.