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We’ve passed the halfway point of the regular season in Arizona high school football, and this week we’ll be examining where things stand in each of the state’s six conferences — including the top storylines, surprises, championship contenders and individual awards candidates. Here’s our capsule look at the 2A conference.

Storylines

The AIA recognized the realities of how COVID-19 has wreaked havoc on the 2A conference when it released its playoff guidelines. Conference teams need to have played only three games to be eligible for the play-in round Nov. 20. Region winners automatically will qualify with the top 11 remaining teams in the AIA rankings.

Last year’s Canyon Athletic Association finalists, San Tan Charter and Sequoia Pathway, are 3-2 during their debut seasons in the AIA and on their way to qualifying for the play-in round. The MaxPreps rankings have them Nos. 14 and 15 after five weeks.

One more round of applause for St. Johns coach Mike Morgan for becoming Arizona’s all-time winningest coach with his 337th victory in Week 3 against Holbrook. He picked up win No. 338 on Friday against Globe.

Surprise

Glendale Prep hasn’t had a winning season since the Griffins last made the playoffs in 2015. They’ve already exceeded their win total from last year during a 4-1 start that includes victories over 2019 playoff teams Arete Prep and Trivium Prep.

Junior quarterback Samuel Terpstra has balanced nine interceptions with 11 touchdown passes and a 56.9 completion percentage, good for 1,001 yards. Senior running back Joseph Valenzuela came up big in the wins over Arete and Trivium (373 yards, six touchdowns) and is approaching his 2019 totals with 576 yards and nine touchdowns for the season.

Burning question

Can anyone slow down Santa Cruz Valley’s title run?

The most recent MaxPreps 2A rankings have the Red Devils at No. 1 with a rating more than three times better than that of No. 2 Benson, with no other team even close to a positive rating. Their only loss came to 4A Casa Grande in Week 4. They have beaten 2A rivals by a combined 165-15. They’re not invincible, but they’re certainly the favorites.

Title favorites

Santa Cruz Valley is the favorite, but several other teams should push the Red Devils once the postseason race begins with the play-in round. Benson has allowed 22 points in its 4-0 start, while Scottsdale Christian (4-0) is averaging 51.8 points per game and just added Fountain Hills transfer receiver Boden Davidson to its potent attack. Others in the mix include Arizona Lutheran, Morenci, Miami, Willcox and Chandler Prep.

Offensive player of the year candidates

Matthew McClelland, QB, Arete Prep

One of the better dual-threat quarterbacks in 2A, McClelland ranks among the conference leaders in passing yards (688 in his first three games) and rushing yards (520), with five touchdowns apiece passing and rushing.

Zayden Neill, QB, San Tan Charter

The freshman faced a steep learning curve in his debut against Santa Cruz Valley, but he’s quickly settled into his role with the Roadrunners, helping them start 3-2. He threw for 401 yards and three touchdowns in a breakthrough game against Holbrook in a Week 4 victory.

Hunter Ogle, RB, Santa Cruz Valley

One of the top backs in the state regardless of conference, Ogle averages 12.1 yards per carry and has 977 yards and 15 touchdowns through five games. He’s among the team leaders with 31 tackles, six for loss.

Defensive player of the year candidates

Ryan Francione, DE, Benson

The junior has been among the leaders of the Bobcats’ stingy defense, ranking among the conference’s best in sacks with five among his team-leading 27 tackles.

Charlie Lines, LB, Heritage Academy

The Heroes still are struggling in their third year as a varsity program, but Lines has been one bright spot, leading the conference in tackles per game (15.3) to go with nine tackles for loss.

Malachi Mizysak, LB, Glendale Prep

The 6-3, 175-pound senior has been a two-way standout for the Griffins, leading the conference with 54 tackles (eight for loss, two sacks) and recording 29 catches for 468 yards and 10 touchdowns at receiver.

Coach of the year candidates

Robert Addicott, Glendale Prep

The second-year coach has engineered the Griffins’ turnaround from a 1-8 season the year before he took the reins.

Nate Holtz, Scottsdale Christian

After a hiccup in Holtz’s first season with the Eagles, they’re right back among the conference’s top contenders, seeking a sixth playoff berth in the past seven years.

Kerry Taylor, San Tan Charter

After leading the Roadrunners to a CAA title last year, Taylor has helped them make the transition to the AIA while easing a prodigy freshman into the starting quarterback role.

2020 ARIZONA HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL PREVIEW