Call it brilliant planning. Call it good fortune. Whatever the reason, this week’s prep football schedule couldn’t have worked out better.
The Division I regular season concludes Thursday — the games were moved up because of Nevada Day — and all four league titles will be decided. I suppose it’s tough to clinch early when you play only four league games, but that doesn’t diminish the excitement.
Arbor View and Centennial will decide the Northwest League in what some are calling the “Game of the Year,” while Bishop Gorman and Palo Verde each carry 3-0 league marks into their Southwest duel. Over in the Sunrise Region, Green Valley (Southeast League) and Las Vegas (Northeast League) will try to lock up a No. 1 seed.
Eric and Skeet are so pumped up, we’re going to put on our Halloween costumes and drive to all four games. I’ll be the guy in the nine-fingered Jose Canseco costume, so come say hello.
■ Arbor View at Centennial — It’s not often we get a battle between unbeaten teams this late in the season, and Centennial quarterback Juan Rodriguez admitted last week that the Bulldogs have been thinking about this game for quite some time. “We have been preparing for (Arbor View) for as long as I can think of — since spring, since summer,” he said. Me too, Juan.
The Aggies have owned the series against Centennial since 2008, winning six of seven meetings. Arbor View’s only loss to the Bulldogs during that span was a 14-9 slugfest in the 2012 Division I Sunset Region semifinals, and this should be another low-scoring game. I typically don’t like going against history, but it’s worked for me this season. … Centennial by 2.
■ Bishop Gorman at Palo Verde — Eric keeps trying to convince me this is a big game. “Dude,” he said, “it’s Gorman-Palo! They’re both undefeated in league, and it’s for the Southwest League title!” But I’m not sold. The Gaels have won the past three meetings by 38, 43 and 28 points, and the gap between the powerhouse programs is growing.
Gorman’s last loss to an in-state team was a 50-14 shellacking at Palo Verde on Nov. 21, 2008. That game cost coach Bob Altshuler his job, and Gorman hired Tony Sanchez out of the Bay Area soon after. Sanchez is 62-0 against Nevada foes, so, really, the Gaels’ domination the past six seasons is all Palo Verde’s fault. … Gorman by 27.
■ Liberty at Las Vegas — These are two of the biggest names in Southern Nevada prep football, but I was surprised to learn they’ve played each other only twice previously. You’d think these teams would run into each other in the postseason more often. Apparently not. (In case you’re wondering, Liberty won both meetings: 35-14 in 2010 and 44-28 in 2011.)
Las Vegas can clinch its first league title since 2010 with a victory, but also could fall to the No. 3 seed with a loss. The Patriots, meanwhile, would earn the Northeast League’s top seed with a win and a Canyon Springs loss. One out of two isn’t bad. … Liberty by 3.
■ Chaparral at Sierra Vista — Let’s all give a warm playoff welcome to these two teams, because it’s been a while since they’ve been here. The Cowboys are making their first postseason appearance since 2007, while Sierra Vista’s last playoff berth was in 2008. See, folks, this is realignment at its finest.
The Mountain Lions backed into the Division I-A Southern Region playoffs despite losing at Pahrump Valley last week. Then, they earned a home game when Spring Valley and Cheyenne also lost. Talk about good luck. If I was Sierra Vista coach John Foss, I’d drive to Primm and buy a Powerball ticket. Pronto! … Sierra Vista by 6.
■ Foothill at Green Valley — This game lost a bit of its shine when the Falcons stumbled at home against Coronado, but there’s still plenty at stake. Foothill can earn the Southeast’s No. 1 seed with a victory and a Coronado loss, but for that to happen, the Falcons better not turn it over four times like a week ago.
The Gators have won six straight behind a running game that averages 302.4 yards per game. Foothill struggled to stop the run against Coronado, which means my mom probably can figure out Green Valley’s game plan: Albert Lake left. Albert Lake right. Brenan Adams up the middle. … Green Valley by 14.
■ Basic at Coronado — The Wolves are the only Southeast League team headed to the playoffs that can’t earn the No. 1 seed. But Basic would get the No. 2 seed with a victory by more than nine points and a Green Valley win. In the immortal words of Lloyd Christmas, “So you’re telling me there’s a chance.”
One of my favorite things about the Cougars this season is how excited the players get when assistant coach Mike Cofer calls for the “Jumbo” package on offense. It’s almost as entertaining as Cofer’s signal to the quarterback, his son Spencer, for the “Brown” formation. I’ll let you use your imagination on that one. … Coronado by 10.
■ Silverado at Canyon Springs — That Lloyd Christmas quote applies to the Skyhawks, too, since technically they can jump as high as the No. 2 seed in the Northeast by shutting out Canyon Springs and winning by more than 13 points. Otherwise, Silverado is locked into the No. 4 spot.
The bigger storyline, though, involves the Pioneers, who can claim the top seed with a win and a Liberty win. If that happens, Canyon Springs will be a tough out in the postseason. … Canyon Springs by 13.
■ Legacy at Shadow Ridge — Both teams have clinched a playoff berth, but this game will decide the No. 3 seed in the Southwest League. That’s right, SOUTHwest League, even though these two schools are about as far north as you can get without driving into a mountain. On the bright side, they won’t have to go far for their first-round playoff game against Arbor View or Centennial. … Legacy by 7.
Last week: 6-2, 6-2 (with points)
Season: 46-25, 39-30-1 (with points)
Contact Fielder at Fielder@nevadapreps.com. Follow @FielderNVP on Twitter.