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. Last week, I was at Perry as the Pumas put forth their best defensive effort in quite some time during a 31-3 victory over Brophy. This Friday, I check another stadium off the list as I make my first trip to Ironwood. The Eagles will be hosting Sunnyslope in a key 5A Bubble Battle. Sunnyslope may have a record of 3-5, but the Vikings have played a very tough schedule. SHS has suffered its defeats against teams ranked # 1, 3, 5, 9, and 14. Slope's best win was a 23-19 decision over Fairfax (#21). The Vikings are ranked #19 with two games to go, so they have a shot. Three of the teams ahead of them (Ironwood Ridge, Paradise Valley, and Maricopa) still have expected losses in the near future as each still has to play a top 5 team. Sunnyslope is led by its passing game with junior QB Niko Haen. Niko's favorite target has been his twin brother, David. Niko has 1,850 yards (264 per game) with 13 touchdowns. David was the pass catcher for 7 of those TDs. Ironwood (5-3) last finished with a winning record in 2012 and appeared in the playoffs in 2011. The Eagles are ranked #13 and like Sunnyslope, have only lost to quality teams. Ironwood's defeats came against teams ranked #1 and 9 in 5A and #6 in 4A. The Eagles' best win was 35-13 over Apollo (#20). Ironwood is ranked #13 and with its last game at Kellis (0-8), you would expect a win will get the Eagles IN. The Eagles' offense is opposite of Sunnyslope as the ground game has been featured. We've talked about Devante Wimbish practically every week on the Gridiron Scroll podcast and I'm looking forward to seeing him. I know he left the Centennial game early last week with a thigh injury, so hopefully, he'll be ready to go. Wimbish has played much of the year as a Wildcat QB and has rushed for 1,118 yards and 17 TDs. Defensively, Ironwood is led by linebacker Stone Aguirre with 93 tackles. Back in July, I did a preview of Ironwood. The Eagles were coming off back-to-back 2-8 seasons and head coach Ian Curtis said the expectation was to reach the 5A playoffs. "We are focused on Game One," Curtis said. "We need to get off to a great start; then, who knows? The only thing this team really needs is the confidence to know that they can compete with every 5A school. We have the physical tools. We are sharpening the mental ones." Ironwood began this year 4-1, losing only to Cactus. With two games to go, the Eagles are in position for reaching that expectation. It won't be easy, though. Sunnyslope has won this matchup each of the past 3 years, including a 21-14 win in 2017. Will Ironwood get in? Will Sunnyslope still be playing for a postseason spot in Week 11 (at Apollo)? We'll find out at Chuck Esquivel Stadium on Friday night.