Football roundup: Mesa teams left out of 2020 playoffs The Mesa Tribune | The Hometown Newspaper for the city of Mesa, AZ

Football roundup: Mesa teams left out of 2020 playoffs

Football roundup: Mesa teams left out of 2020 playoffs
Sports
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By Zach Alvira
Tribune Sports Editor

The 2020 high school football season is nearing its conclusion – a feat many might deem incredible given the uncertain circumstances the pandemic created.

Aside from Red Mountain, which was forced into a bye week due to COVID-19 cases at Desert Ridge and the cancellation of the contest between the two, all Mesa district teams advanced through the season unscathed and played a full season.

The uncertainty surrounding each team, with cases of COVID-19 appearing in every school throughout the year, makes reaching the finish line an accomplishment in itself regardless of record in the shortened season.

Mountain View appeared on its way to a playoff berth in the 6A Conference but was left out due to strength of schedule.

Teams were able to schedule a “bowl game” after the regular season concluded, if they desired. Here’s how each Mesa football team fared in the COVID-shortened 2020 regular season.

Mountain View

The coronavirus pandemic seemingly had little effect on the Toros this season, as Mountain View finished with its best overall record since coach Mike Fell took over the program in 2016.

Led by a stout defensive line, anchored by junior defensive end Malaki Ta’ase, Mountain View improved to 6-0 on the season before losing its first game in Week 7 to Basha. The Toros finished the 2020 season on Friday, Nov. 20 with a loss to unbeaten and Open Division bound Corona del Sol. At 6-2 overall, Mountain View was left out of the 6A Conference playoffs due to the AIA’s computer rankings.

The Toros’ snub was arguably the biggest surprise during the AIA’s bracket release show.

Red Mountain

Forced to cancel a matchup with Desert Ridge early on in the season due to COVID-19, the 2020 season brought an unusual slump for Red Mountain. An impressive season opening win over Westwood was followed by two straight losses, including one to Mountain View in the Battle for Brown Road. After a trip to the 6A championship game last season, the Mountain Lions will be left out of the playoffs for the first time since 2005 after finishing 3-4 on the year.

Mesa

Head coach Chad DeGrenier’s second year leading the Jackrabbits saw improvement later on in the season, as Mesa competed with Open Division contender Desert Edge and a red-hot Basha. Mesa finished the 2020 season with a nail-biting loss to district-rival Westwood last Friday to finish the year 3-5 overall.

Dobson

Head coach Bill Godsil has the Dobson football program headed in the right direction, even if the record may not show it quite yet. The Mustangs have talent coming up in its lower-level programs, and much of Godsil’s focus the last two seasons has been creating a new culture and mindset among his players. The Mustangs had hoped to gain momentum heading into the offseason but fell to Skyline to finish the season 2-6.

Skyline

Skyline was able to muster just one win this season – a 28-27 victory over McClintock in Week 4. The Coyotes faced a tough task the first three weeks of the season playing teams that will be contenders in the postseason. Skyline finished its season with a win over Dobson.

Westwood

Like Skyline, Westwood managed just one win this season – a 36-20 victory over the Coyotes in Week 6. The Warriors struggled against fellow Mesa schools and those outside the district, some of which appeared in the playoffs. Westwood finished the season 2-6 overall after upsetting Mesa in what is one of the most historic rivalries in the state.

Eastmark

Eastmark’s first season at the 3A level showed the Firebirds are still in the process of rebuilding. But they took a step in the right direction heading into the offseason. The team finished 2-6 overall after ending its season with a convincing win over Fountain Hills on Nov. 20.

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