Monthly Archives: September 2012

Cactus bounces back against Thunderbird


It wasn’t the happiest weeks to be around the Glendale Cactus football team.

After last week’s 53-point loss to Scottsdale Saguaro, Cactus coach Larry Fetkenhier said the program was embarrassed, and he challenged his team to respond this week against Phoenix Thunderbird.

It took a little more than three quarters to do so, but Cactus finally got it together to erase a 10-point second-half deficit and hand Thunderbird a 21-17 loss in a key Division III game.

Cactus senior Josh Kindred ran back two long punt returns in the fourth quarter, and his second one set up Austin Marshall’s 4-yard touchdown run with four minutes left. That gave Cactus (4-2) its first lead of the game and proved to be the game-winner.

“I wanted to know how we would respond after we got out butts dismantled last week,” Fetkenhier said about the 67-14 loss. “But we found a way to win.”

For most of the game it appeared Thunderbird (3-3) was going to beat Cactus for the first since anybody on the sidelines could remember. Thunderbird’s offense mounted numerous ball-control drives and led from the opening possession until Marshall’s game-winning score for Cactus.

Things definitely looked up for Thunderbird in the third quarter when it held Cactus on downs at the 6 and turned it around for a 94-yard scoring drive to give it a 17-7 lead.

Thunderbird running back Kani Benoit, who had 177 rushing yards on 30 carries, capped the long drive with a 2-yard touchdown run.

But instead of folding at that point, Cactus came alive. Quarterback Talil Yousufzai led it on an eight-play scoring drive immediately after Thunderbird’s TD to cut the deficit to 17-14.

Right after that, Kindred’s first long punt return of 55 yards put Cactus in field goal range, but it missed a chance to tie it when the kick went wide left.

But Thunderbird punted back to Kindred on its next possession, and this time he returned it 49 yards to right outside Thunderbird 20. Five plays later Cactus had the win.

Published at • Fri Sep 28, 2012


high schools

Gant dominates as Tempe defeats Washington

by Jason Stone

When Phoenix Washington picked Tempe to be its homecoming opponent, the school was probably hoping Tempe would play like it did the last two seasons when it won just one game.
But this year’s Tempe team is different, and Washington found that out the hard way in Friday night’s 62-20 loss in a Division III matchup.
“When we started the season we told the team we wanted to go 5-5,” Tempe coach Brian Walker said. “They said, ‘No, coach, why can’t we go 10-0.’ The sky’s the limit for these boys.”
While an undefeated season is out of the question after an earlier loss to defending state champion Scottsdale Saguaro, Tempe (4-1) is at least showing opponents it was a mistake to schedule it for homecoming.
Washington (2-3) controlled possession of the ball throughout the first half, but Tempe used the quick-strike passing game of Emanuel Gant to dominate the scoreboard.
Emanuel GantGant threw four touchdown passes in the first half and five overall — to turn a close 7-6 game into a rout. After only holding the ball for just a little over two minutes through the first quarter and a half, Gant led Tempe to four straight scoring drives, including a 90-yard drive midway through the second quarter that gave Tempe a 21-6 lead.
Gant finished with 403 passing yards, and his 35-yard touchdown pass to Jordan Wiatr to start the third quarter put the game out of reach at 42-6.
“I just had to get it to the receivers,” Gant said. “My job is to just throw the ball.”
Washington had chances to keep it close in the first half but failed to score on three trips deep in Tempe territory.

Published at • Sept. 22, 2012

high schools

Centennial completely in control vs. Apollo

by Jason Stone

If there was ever a question of whether Peoria Centennial has a complete team in 2012, it answered emphatically Friday night at Glendale Apollo.
Centennial showed why it’s the No.1 team in Division II with a dominating 70-20 win in a battle of top-10 unbeatens.
Centennial (4-0) scored touchdowns rushing, passing, on special teams and on defense and led 35-7 lead before attempting its first pass.
“We were just trying to keep up with the defense,” quarterback Tre’von Grant said. “The defense was scoring more than we (the offense) were.”
Nine players scored touchdowns for Centennial, and twice it scored touchdowns a minute apart. The first came in the first quarter, when it took a 21-7 lead despite having the ball only once offensively.
No.9 Apollo (3-1) never recovered from the early hole, despite having an offense that came in averaging 52 points a game.
Centennial’s Kyle Mack picked off a Jordan Gungl pass and returned it 45 yards for a touchdown, giving Centennial a 14-0 lead midway through the first quarter.
Apollo showed life with a nine-play scoring drive to cut the deficit in half, but Centennial grabbed momentum back immediately as Oche Meyers took the ensuing kickoff back 99 yards for a touchdown.
Apollo got within 22 points with a touchdown right before halftime, but Centennial dominated the second half despite emptying its bench.
Dominique Hodge scooped up a fumble and returned it 67 yards for a TD midway in the third quarter to turn the game into a rout.
A fumble recovery and blocked punt set up two more Centennial touchdowns.
“All phases of the game chipped in,” Centennial coach Richard Taylor said. “There is still work to be done, but the kids played great tonight.”

Published at • Sept. 14, 2012

high schools

Game Notes: Overflow crowd at Apollo

by Jason Stone

Glendale Apollo experienced something unique for the school Friday night: an overflow crowd. Of course, Peoria Centennial, the No.1 team in Division II, was the opponent. Some fans were forced to watch from the end zones and around the fence as anticipation was high for the battle of two Top 10 unbeaten teams.Those who didn’t get there in time missed an early scoring explosion. Centennial had 21 points after having the ball on offense only once. It also scored a touchdown on defense and special teams. Combined the teams had 62 points at halftime.

Published at • Sept. 14, 2012

high schools

Fairfax uses big plays to break away from O’Connor

by Jason Stone

Sometimes football games can change on one play. Laveen Betty H. Fairfax used two big ones to win Friday night at Phoenix Sandra Day O’Connor.
Derron Brown returned an interception 42 yards for a touchdown to break a second half tie, and Betty Fairfax blocked a field goal to change the momentum for good in a 26-7 non-division win.
“We’re still learning, but any win is a big win,” Betty Fairfax coach Kevin Belcher said
Brown scored three touchdowns for the game — two receiving — but it was the interception return that swung the game.
With the game tied at 7 early in the third quarter and neither team taking control, Brown picked off Sandra Day O’Connor quarterback Jared Melson, who did not complete any of his eight pass attempts in the second half.
“They were in a slot formation and (running) a 10-yard out (pattern),” Brown said. “I just cut in front of (the receiver), looked at the ball and then saw daylight.”
Sandra Day O’Connor (1-2) was driving early in the fourth quarter, but Betty Fairfax (2-1) blocked a 33-yard field goal attempt to kill the momentum.
Betty Fairfax needed only seven plays to drive 66 yards for a touchdown right after the block. David Bulena rushed in from 19 yards to give Betty Fairfax a 19-7 lead after a missed conversion.
Sandra O’Connor was forced to punt after three plays on its ensuing possession. Betty Fairfax then wrapped it up with a six-and-a-half-minute scoring drive that used up all but the final seven seconds of the game.
Betty Fairfax’s offense ran the ball 20 straight times in the second half until throwing a touchdown pass to Brown on fourth down and goal from the 7 with seven seconds left.
Brown’s first touchdown catch was an 84-yard score on Betty Fairfax’s first possession. The junior caught the ball at the Sandra Day O’Connor 40, bounced off defensive back Brandon Bohen like a pinball and took it in the other 60 yards untouched.
Sandra Day O’Connor was held to only 56 yards of offense in the second half.

Published at • Sept. 8, 2012