Fall wrap: Mesa teams struggle to qualify for postseason The Mesa Tribune | The Hometown Newspaper for the city of Mesa, AZ

Fall wrap: Mesa teams struggle to qualify for postseason

December 15th, 2020 Mesa Tribune Staff
Fall wrap: Mesa teams struggle to qualify for postseason
Sports
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By Zach Alvira
Tribune Sports Editor

The fall sports season has officially come to an end for all Mesa schools, as they all managed to navigate through the COVID-19 pandemic with few issues.

Some programs saw success that led to playoff appearances and top-10 finishes in cross country, swim and other sports, while every Mesa football team was left out of the postseason for the first time in several years. Much of that stemmed from the Arizona Interscholastic Association limiting the number of playoff participants to just eight teams this year in football. Typically 16 teams make the conference tournaments.

Still, reaching the end of a season that, at times, appeared it may not reach a conclusion is an accomplishment in itself.

Here’s a look at how every Mesa school fared during the pandemic-delayed fall sports season.

Red Mountain

Red Mountain’s football team was left out of the playoffs for the first time since 2005 after the Mountain Lions finished 3-4 overall in a new region for the 2020 season. Positive COVID-19 cases with Desert Ridge’s program forced Red Mountain to miss a game, which could have potentially helped its ranking.

Led by Noah Czajkowski, Red Mountain’s boys’ cross country program placed fourth overall in the state championship meet. The girls, meanwhile, placed eighth overall. Red Mountain’s swim program had a strong showing at the state meet this fall, with the girls’ placing third overall and the boys seventh.

Mountain View

Mountain View’s swim program, a perennial contender in Division I, saw its girls place fourth at the state meet and boys 10th. The cross country program saw similar success this season, as the boys placed sixth after Joshua Judd’s ninth place finish and the girls seventh overall.

Despite one of its best seasons in recent years, Mountain View’s football program was left out of the 6A playoffs after a 6-2 season. The volleyball program, one of the top-ranked teams all season, lost in the semifinals to eventual 6A runner-up Perry. 

Mesa

Mesa High School’s volleyball program finished 9-6 overall in the pandemic-shortened season and were second in the East Valley Region – comprised of all Mesa schools. The Jackrabbits entered the 6A Conference play-in tournament as the No. 20 seed and fell to Valley Vista.

The football program made it through all eight of its scheduled games, finishing 3-5 overall. The Jackrabbits wrapped up the 2020 fall football season on Nov. 20 with a close loss to district-rival Westwood.

Skyline

Led by Aidan Tinen and Jordan Gloria, the Skyline boys cross country team broke through to the top 10 and placed No. 9 overall at the state meet at Crossroads Park in Gilbert. Abby Oberfield led the girls team in the final meet of the season, but as a whole the girls were unable to place.

Austin Wells shot a 171 overall in the golf state championship in Tucson. Dylaina Herrera represented Skyline in the badminton singles championship tournament, winner her first match before falling in the quarterfinals. As a team, the Coyotes were ranked No. 14 overall but lost to Chaparral in the first round.

Westwood

Westwood wrapped up its 2020 football season with a close victory over district-rival Mesa, a 36-35 game. It was just the second win of the season for the Warriors, but it came in one of the state’s longest tenured rivalries.

Lisa Backlund and Mackenzie Vongphosy represented Westwood in the state golf championship match, scoring 218 and 225, respectively. The Westwood volleyball program finished 7-7 overall and made it to the 6A Conference play-in tournament before losing to Chandler.

Dobson

Dobson’s football program opened the season with a win over North Canyon, before struggling the rest of the way. The Mustangs finished 2-6 overall, with their only other win coming against district-rival Westwood.

The Dobson badminton team finished 4-7 overall and was left out of the postseason tournaments, while the volleyball team struggled to find consistency and finished winless on the year. In swim, the Dobson boys program qualified for the state meet and finished No. 15 overall with 53 points.

Eastmark

Eastmark, in just its second year of existence, was represented at the state golf championship by Chapin Smith, who shot a 158 in the two-day event. Eastmark’s girls swim team qualified for the state swim meet and finished No. 30 overall.

The Firebirds’ football season ended on a positive note with a win over Fountain Hills. Eastmark finished 2-6 overall in its first full varsity season.

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