Desert Ridge High School will play in the state championship game for only the second time in its history on Friday, November 27 at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, where they will take on Peoria Centennial.
In a pair of semi-final upsets, Desert Ridge beat #1 Chandler and Centennial beat #2 Mountain Pointe last Friday.
The win over Chandler was not predicted by the experts, as Chandler came into the semifinal game with a ten-game winning streak. “Our kids just rallied together,” Desert Ridge coach Jeremy Hathcock said. “Our motto was ‘Rise above’ at camp, and boy, we rose above. I think we shocked the whole entire state, and maybe parts of the country.”
The 24-21 victory over Chandler showed two very different offense styles, with Chandler dominating in the air 208 yards over Desert Ridge’s 45 passing yards, and with Desert Ridge rushing for 181 yards. Chandler had significantly more total yards in the game, but with 76 yards in penalties and 3 interceptions by the Jaguars, including one in the final 2 minutes, Desert Ridge emerged triumphant.
And, now, the Jags look to Centennial and their hopes of their first ever state championship. “We prepare for a 14-game season,” Hathcock said. That’s what we do at (training camp in) Winslow, we’re here now, it’s our second time (in the big game) and hopefully we can close the deal.”
The Jags’ last and only state title game was in 2010, when they lost to Hamilton 21 to 13. The final game of their 2015 season will be 3pm at University of Phoenix on Friday, November 27.