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July 29, 2014

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high school football:

High school football top 10: Who is your pick to win the Sunrise Region?

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L.E. Baskow

(From right) Canyon Springs Kyhren Howard runs by Las Vegas’ Justin Taitague after picking up a punt that Las Vegas blocked. Canyon Springs defeated Las Vegas High 21-14 on Friday, Nov. 1, 2013.

Canyon Springs Beats Las Vegas

Canyon Springs QB Bradley Alexander (1) looks to get rid of the ball as Las Vegas defender Jacob Anderson (9) and Ryan Magante (53) move in. Canyon Springs defeated Las Vegas High 21-14 on Friday, Nov. 1, 2013. Launch slideshow »

Sunrise Regional football champs

Which team do you think will win the Sunrise Regional high school football championship?
Liberty — 42.3%
Green Valley — 23.4%
Canyon Springs — 13.4%
Las Vegas — 13.2%
Basic — 2.9%
Other — 2.9%
Coronado — 1.9%

This poll is closed, see Full Results »

Note: This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.

When the eight-team Sunrise Regional high school football playoffs begin Friday, it's hard to guess which team will be the last one standing.

Four of the teams in the regional are part of this week’s rankings — two others outside the top 10 have victories against those four schools.

Sure, Liberty is the three-time defending Sunrise champion. But, if we’ve learned anything during the regular season, it’s to expect the unexpected.

Take this play last Friday in Canyon Springs’ 21-14 win against Las Vegas.

Canyon Springs had a punt blocked in its own territory, which would have given Las Vegas the ball and a short field to score in a crucial Northeast game with playoff seeding on the line.

But Canyon Springs’ Kyhren Howard scooped up the loose ball and raced 67 yards for a touchdown, surprising most because blocked kicks are rarely recovered by the punting team. And they are rarely advanced. Canyon Springs ended up winning by a touchdown, using that wacky play to earn the No. 2 seed and a home playoff game for the regional.

It’s a regional Canyon Springs, which surrenders less than 10 points per game, feels it can win. The Pioneers have just one loss this season, falling on a last-second field goal to Green Valley two weeks ago. But in early September, the Pioneers needed overtime to defeat Coronado, which is their opponent Friday in the regional quarterfinals.

Here’s more proof of the parity:

Green Valley is the No. 1 seed from the Northeast and considered by some as the favorite. Yet, the Gators trailed by double digits twice this year before winning on game-ending field goals. And they lost a nonleague game to Coronado.

• Liberty surrendered 42 points in a win against Basic and led Coronado by only one point entering the fourth quarter before winning by three touchdowns.

Coronado lost in overtime to Canyon Springs and was upset last week by Basic. Still, the Cougars beat Green Valley and have one of the area’s best players, dual-threat quarterback Jackson Cofer.

Basic has defeats against Green Valley, Las Vegas, Liberty and Canyon Springs. But the Wolves scored 36 points against Green Valley and 42 against Liberty, and they have the region’s unquestioned top player in Antraye Johnson, who's a threat to score each time he touches the ball.

Eight teams. One championship. Buckle your seat belts — this should be a fun three weeks.

Here are the rankings, which won’t return until next season. We’ll let the results on the field determine them for the rest of this year.

1. Bishop Gorman (8-2): Gorman will play this week for a seventh straight undefeated season in Southwest League games. That’s pretty special. Up next: Friday at Desert Oasis.

2. Liberty (7-3): The Patriots won their fourth straight Southeast league title last week. Could a fourth straight Sunrise crown be next? Up next: Friday vs. Silverado, Sunrise Regional quarterfinals.

3. Green Valley (7-2): Don’t be surprised if the Gators are the last team standing in the Sunrise. Up next: Friday vs. Foothill, Sunrise Regional quarterfinals.

4. Palo Verde (7-1): Palo Verde remembers last year when Arbor View celebrated on its home field after winning the Northwest League. Yes, this is going to be intense. Up next: Friday at Arbor View, Northwest League championship game.

5. Arbor View (7-1): Arbor View has four shutouts this year and has surrendered seven points in its past four games. Up next: Friday vs. Palo Verde, Northwest League championship game.

6. Canyon Springs (8-1): Not only did Canyon Springs beat Las Vegas last week, the Pioneers dominated for most of the night. Defensively, they frustrated Las Vegas’ high-scoring attack, causing turnovers and allowing no serious scoring threats until the game was already decided. Up next: Friday vs Coronado, Sunrise Regional quarterfinals.

7. Legacy (6-2): Legacy’s defense and strong running game will make it a threat in next week’s Sunset Regional. The Longhorns will contend for a spot in the regional championship over Thanksgiving week. Up next: Friday vs. Centennial.

8. Moapa Valley (10-0): While Arbor View-Palo Verde is the game of the week, Virgin Valley at Moapa Valley in the Division I-A playoffs is a close second. It should be a closely contested affair. Up next: Friday vs. Virgin Valley, Division I-A Southern Region semifinals.

9. Las Vegas (5-4): All eight teams in the regional enter with the same record — 0-0. For Las Vegas, after struggling last week against Canyon Springs, hitting the reset button is a good thing. Up next: Friday at Basic, Sunrise Regional quarterfinals.

10. Faith Lutheran (9-2): The Crusaders have won nine straight games. A 10th would put them in the Division I-A state semifinals. Up next: Friday vs. Desert Pines, Division I-A Southern Region semifinals.

Ray Brewer can be reached at 990-2662 or [email protected]. Follow Ray on Twitter at twitter.com/raybrewer21.

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