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August 23, 2011

Regions: Utah/Colorado vs. Arizona/New Mexico

MORE GORNEY: Little Diddy | Weekend review

In this two-week series, Rivals.com is taking a look at the high school football talent in rival regions - breaking down the best prospects, best teams and giving our vote for which area is superior.

TODAY'S MATCHUP: Arizona/New Mexico vs. Colorado/Utah


The Case for Arizona/New Mexico

Quarterback isn't a deep position in either Arizona or New Mexico but four-star Texas commit Connor Brewer is more than capable and can handle himself well so that shouldn't be a problem.

Running back is not a strong position. Three-star Anthony Lopez and San Diego State pledge Alex Howard are nice players but don't have that superstar quality.

Wide receiver is strong. Leading the way are athlete D.J. Foster, four-stars Davonte Neal and Javon Williams and BYU pledge Josh Weeks, so there is a nice arsenal of receivers who could exploit things all over the field.

Five-star offensive tackle Andrus Peat leads on the offensive line and then Arizona commit Zach Hemmila, Denzell Dotson, Air Force pledge Quin Ficklin and others form a decent unit.

The thing that stands out most at defensive end is how athletic the prospects are led by Kisima Jagne, Dwight Melvin, Avery Moss and Jarvis Lewis. There isn't a lot of depth there but the top players are really talented.

Linebacker is a little bit of a weakness but Boise State pledge Blake Martinez, Iowa State commit Adam Pavlenko and Scottsdale (Ariz.) Chaparral's Cody Ippolito are serviceable.

There are also some question marks in the secondary. After Reggie Daniels and Zach Hoffpauir there isn't a ton of depth there.


The Case for Colorado/Utah

In a similar situation at quarterback, there isn't a ton of depth but four-star Washington commit Cyler Miles, from Denver (Colo.) Mullen, is more than capable here. He was outstanding all summer and is one of the nation's top quarterbacks.

The skill positions are a big letdown. Michigan running back pledge Sione Houma is the best of the bunch. At wide receiver, three-star Jordon Vaden and Duke commit Max McCaffrey would be the best options. Four-star tight end Evan Baylis is the best tight end in any of those four states.

The offensive line would be massive and outstanding. Brandon Fanaika, Nua Poteki, Zach Lindsay, Paul Thurston, Shane Callahan, Joey O'Connor and Alex Kozan form one of the best units probably in the country.

On the defensive side, four-star Troy Hinds and a bunch of three-stars including Moana Ofahengaue, Utah pledge Moses Folauhola, defensive tackle Tyler Henington and others form a decent but not dominant unit.

Linebacker would be fine as well with Colorado commit Clay Norgard, Boise State pledge Andrew Pint and three-star Jared Afalava.

In the secondary, four-star athlete Chase Hansen would lead the way along with fellow Utah commit Austin Lee, but there would be some issues there.


Bottom line

The offensive line for Colorado/Utah would be one of the nation's best but that region doesn't have many playmakers. Arizona's defensive ends are very strong, along with the wide receivers, and that gives it the edge.


Team matchup

Nearly every year of the last 10 this would have been a heated debate, given all the teams in these four states. However, entering 2011 the only state keeping up its end of the deal is Arizona and that single state will carry the debate. Arizona has Chandler Hamilton, Scottsdale Chaparral, Peoria Centennial, Chandler High, Brophy College Prep and several others that would be able to go and compete, or beat, Denver Mullen - which would be by far the best team of the Colorado/Utah combination. Both New Mexico and Utah are down entering the season and neither has a single team ranked for the RivalsHigh 100 entering the season. The pair really does not bring much to the best versus best debate this year. In past seasons the combination of South Jordan Bingham and Sandy Alta, among others in Utah, could have held their own in the clash but this season it isn't in the cards. Arizona could have won this if it were against the other three states combined, too.

- Dallas Jackson


Series Schedule
AUG. 24: Atlanta vs. New Orleans
AUG. 25: Indianapolis vs. Cincinnati | Chicago vs. Detroit
AUG. 26: Southern California vs. Northern California



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