First-round upsets have made the road to the Class 5A Division I football championships a bit more intriguing.
And part of that seed jostling either directly or indirectly involves Mountain Pointe and Desert Vista heading into Friday's quarterfinal action and beyond.
The fifth-seeded Pride (9-2) hosts one of the first-round interlopers as No. 13 Phoenix Brophy (6-5) comes to Karl Kiefer Stadium.
The Broncos do not have the pedigree nor are they playing like a 14th seed. Brophy won state titles in 2005 and 2007, but wobbled a bit this season when its quarterback situation got murky.
"They have righted themselves and are playing well," Mountain Pointe coach Norris Vaughan said. "If they played a 10-game schedule now, I figure they'd win eight or nine games."
Two of the other upsets in the first round came in the same half bracket as Desert Vista (9-2). The third-seeded Thunder have to worry about No. 6 Tucson Salpointe Catholic (10-1) before it comes into play, but whoever advances is going to get a double-digit seed in the state semifinals.
Tenth-seeded Mesa Desert Ridge (8-3) hosts No. 15 Gilbert (6-6). It hardly means the winner of the Desert Vista-Salpointe game has a free pass to the championship game, but it would be a lot more enticing than a possible meeting with heavy favorite Chandler Hamilton (12-0) in the top half of the bracket.
That's getting ahead of schedule just a bit so it's probably a good time to refocus on the two games being played in Ahwatukee Foothills.
After all, this is the first time both schools have advanced to the quarterfinals in the same season since both began playing varsity ball in 1998.
Desert Vista and Salpointe have one thing in common - neither team has lost since taking on Hamilton. The Thunder has ripped off seven in a row and the Lancers enter the game on a five-game winning streak.
"They have won 10 games and are obviously a very good team," Desert Vista coach Dan Hinds said. "We have our work cut out for us."
The Lancers are led by quarterback Jordan Scelfo, son of University of Arizona quarterback coach Frank Scelfo. He has passed for 2,065 yards and 16 touchdowns while adding 10 more scores and 475 yards on the ground.
Sophomore Johnny Pena (1,242 yards, 16 TDs) is the ground-game threat, while three receivers have at least 28 catches.
The defense has forced 29 turnovers (17 interceptions) and wrangled up 22.5 sacks as senior Conner Siegel leads the way with 7.5 tackles a game, 6.5 total sacks, six passes broken up, one interception, two fumble recoveries, three forced fumbles and two blocked field goals.
"They look fast and hard-hitting," Desert Vista quarterback Hunter Rodriguez said. "The better the competition the more I like to play. I can't wait for the challenge."
The Pride will have its hands full with the rejuvenated Broncos.
Brophy lost quarterback Tyler Bruggman to injury in early October. It came about two moths after last season's starter and Ahwatukee Foothills resident Chase Knox transferred to a school in San Diego because he was going to split time with Bruggman.
Converted wide receiver Fred Gammage and sophomore Greg Wirth have found a rhythm behind center, while running back Josh Dennard has rushed for 266 yards and five touchdowns over the last two games.
The defense is led by linebacker Robert Relf (10.8 tackles), Charley Beck (11 sacks) and Matt Cahal (5 interceptions).
"They are really good on defense," Vaughan said. "They are a much different team than they were a month ago. They are well coached and they have a lot of weapons."
The winners advance to the state semifinals at a neutral location. The action takes a week off for Thanksgiving break and resumes Dec. 3.