This year marks my 10th in covering high school football in Arizona. Each week, I make the trek out to a school in the Metro Phoenix area to watch, tweet, take photos, and report on a game involving 6A or 5A teams. One of the things I pride myself on is seeing as many different teams as possible while covering one game a week. Because of that, I'll see 22 different schools during the 11-week regular season. As the playoffs begin in November, we'll see what matchups feature teams I haven't seen yet. To kick things off in 2018, I'll be in Laveen as the Betty Fairfax Stampede play host to the Notre Dame Saints. When we last saw Notre Dame, it was losing its only game of the 2017 season in Tucson in the 5A state championship against Centennial. The team on Friday night will look quite a bit different from that one as 35 seniors have graduated. Still, the outlook is optimistic as NDP is ranked No. 7 in the Preseason Arizona Varsity Composite Top 10 for 5A. Cody Cameron placed the Saints at No. 5 on his ballot. Returning for Notre Dame is Jake Smith, who committed to Texas over the summer. Last year, Smith was became just the 3rd player in the MaxPreps era (2004-2017) to rush for 1,000 yards and record 1,000 yards receiving. The Saints will try to get Smith as many touches as possible. One of the ways is with QB Jake Farrell. Farrell (6-5, 215) has been waiting for this moment. He's outstanding at reading defenses and will also have the blocking help of offensive linemen Cade Bennett and Cale Gregory. The last time I went out to Fairfax was in 2010, the second year of the program. I haven't seen the Stampede play on a Friday night since 2014, but this team has earned a visit. Fairfax has won its region (now called the 5A Metro) each of the last 3 seasons. Of the players playing in this game, Smith was not the leading rusher from last year. It was Anthodius Ashley, the running back for the Stampede (1,324 yards and 23 TDs). So far, Ashley has an offer from Ottawa University in Surprise. The Stampede have size up front with defensive end Kesontaye Lewis and center Taj Bryson. Will Fairfax try to shorten the game, huddle, and control the clock with its ground game? We'll find out. If the Stampede go to the pass, watch for senior WR Diontae Turner, who had a good summer. I briefly saw Fairfax in the West Side passing tournament and the defense had a rare (for 7-on-7) shutout over Moon Valley, 21-0. Check back on Saturday morning for a recap on the opener from BFHS!