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high schools

Blue Ridge rolls by River Valley

by Jason Stone

It’s almost not fair.
Lakeside Blue Ridge didn’t even have its best player for Saturday night’s Division IV quarterfinal game against River Valley at Phoenix Washington, but you wouldn’t have known that from the score.
Undefeated Blue Ridge thoroughly dominated River Valley and rolled to a 49-0 win to advance to next week’s semifinals against Snowflake.
Arizona State-signee Chans Cox watched the game from the sidelines again as he continues to nurse a broken foot, but Blue Ridge (13-0) didn’t need him or three other injured starters on this night.
Blue Ridge’s defense dominated right from the opening kickoff, and its offense cleaned up the mess.
They’re faster in person than they are on film,” River Valley coach Terry Staggs said.
The stats show just how one-sided this game was.
Blue Ridge outgained River Valley, 538-21. River Valley (8-4) didn’t have positive total yards until the fourth quarter when a continuous clock was in effect. Its biggest gain in the first half was a 5-yard penalty.
Blue Ridge had 26 first downs to three for River Valley.
River Valley threw five interceptions, and quarterback Derek Advocate was sacked five times. The team also completed only 2 of 17 pass attempts.
Of River Valley’s 36 offensive plays, only nine went for positive yards. Of those nine, only one was more than 10 yards.
“Our defense has good players,” Blue Ridge coach Paul Moro said. “(River Valley) is a good team. Our guys just played well tonight.”
Blue Ridge held a 28-0 lead at halftime thanks to a ground game that racked up 267 yards in the first half. Junior Nolan Cook gained 154 yards for the game and scored two first-half touchdowns.
Moro said Cox could possibly return next week, but that determination will be made later in the week.
“Football is not based on one player,” Moro said. “It’s a team game, and we have an excellent team.”

Published at azcentral.com • Nov 11, 2012

Williams Field eliminates Liberty

 

Gilbert Williams Field has not been mentioned much as a possible contender for a Division III state championship.

It will be now.

Williams Field used a dominating second half performance to eliminate Peoria Liberty in the quarterfinals again, 53-30, Friday night.

Williams Field will face No.1 seed Goodyear Desert Edge next Saturday at Phoenix Sandra Day O’Connor in the semifinals.

“We stepped up to make plays in the second half, which we didn’t do in the first half,” Williams Field coach Steve Campbell said.

Williams Field (11-1), the No. 5 seed, put up 33 straight points after trailing by a point at halftime. It scored on defense and special teams and neutralized fourth-seeded Liberty’s high-powered offense.

Liberty (10-2) turned the ball over four times and was held on downs on two other possessions as it lost in the quarterfinals for the third straight year. The school has never reached the semifinals.

It looked like Liberty was poised to finally reach the final four when it drove 80 yards on the game’s opening drive for a quick 7-0 lead.

But Williams Field kept the pressure on Liberty’s star quarterback Tyler Rogers, intercepting him twice, including one that Terrance Payne II returned 40 yards for a touchdown. That score in the fourth quarter put Williams Field up 46-14 and sealed the win.

“Our defense played its butt off,” Campbell said.

Williams Field also got another big game from running back Sean Schweichler. The senior rushed for 137 yards and returned a punt 65 yards for a touchdown in the third quarter that started the second half rout.

The teams combined for 44 points in the fourth quarter. Until it scored two touchdowns in eight seconds late in the game, Liberty had only put up 14 despite coming in averaging 49.


Published at azcentral.com • Nov. 9, 2012
Published at USAToday.com • Nov. 10, 2012

Apollo opens playoffs with home win

Rarely does a non-scoring play in the first half change a football game.

But Glendale Apollo got that one play in Friday’s Division II first-round home game against Phoenix Horizon.

Moments after scoring a game-tying touchdown in the final seconds of the half, Apollo’s Josh Turner put such a ferocious hit on Horizon’s kick returner, it caused his mouthpiece to fly 10 yards behind him.

Apollo celebrated as it ran into the locker room, and turned that excitement into a 24-20 win.

“That certainly helped our momentum,” Apollo coach Zack Threadgill said. “We’ve never covered a kick better than that.”

It may go down as the most talked-about kickoff coverage play in school history, but it didn’t totally diminish other big plays Apollo (10-1) made in order to advance to next week’s second round.

With the game tied at 7, Braxton Nickerson picked off a pass and returned it inside the Horizon 20. A Rodrigo Hernandez field goal gave Apollo a 10-7 lead.

After Horizon (8-3) missed a field goal attempt of its own on the ensuing possession, Apollo put the pressure on with a quick four-play, 80-yard drive.

Nico Bayless, who rushed for 100 yards and two touchdowns, scored his first one on a 19-yard run to put Apollo up 17-7.

Horizon hung around with an 11-play scoring drive that ate up almost five minutes. Charlie Quinn’s 1-yard plunge cut the score to 17-14 with a little more than 5 minutes left in the game.

But Bayless became a workhorse, carrying the ball 10 times on an 11-play scoring drive that ate up almost all of the remaining time, and gave Apollo a 24-14 lead.

Horizon scored on a 50-yard Hail Mary pass on the final play.

Apollo will now try to avenge last year’s playoff loss as it travels to Oro Valley Ironwood Ridge.

“We’ve got some kids who are experienced with the bus ride down there so hopefully it helps us,” Threadgill said.

Millennium dominates Willow Canyon

The playoffs started a week early for Goodyear Millennium and Surprise Willow Canyon.

The winner of Friday night’s Division II game knew it would likely be heading to next week’s playoffs. But Willow Canyon’s home crowd only saw one team ready for the playoffs, and it wasn’t theirs.

Millennium avenged last year’s season-ending loss to Willow Canyon — which kept it out of the playoffs — with a convincing 27-7 win that wasn’t even that close.

“I’m so proud of the team,” Millennium coach George Martinez said. “We told the team that this was their first playoff game. Last year they beat us, but I knew we had to get payback somehow.”

Millennium (7-3) thought it may have wrapped up a playoff spot last week in another game in Surprise. But a late 21-7 lead at Valley Vista turned into a heartbreaking loss. However, there was no doubt about Millennium’s return trip to Surprise.

633436With a dominating defense and a ball-control offense, Millennium jumped out to a 19-0 first-half lead and didn’t allow Willow Canyon’s offense to get untracked all night.

At one point in the fourth quarter, Willow Canyon (5-5) still had minus-7 total yards and only two first downs. It wasn’t until trickery on fourth down — a double pass — that got Willow Canyon out of negative territory.

Martinez credited the game plan of defensive coordinator Jason Randels.

“The kids love playing for this guy,” Martinez said.

Millennium was able to hold talented running back Antony Thompson in check all night. The senior came into the game with 1,322 rushing yards and 20 total touchdowns, but was able to amass only 64 yards rushing in this game — 50 of which came after Millennium was already up by 27 points.

Willow Canyon quarterback Tristan Madden was sacked seven times in the game, including three by junior linebacker Dwayne Gaither.


Published at azcentral.com • Oct 26, 2012

Defense comes up big in Cactus win

 

Glendale Cactus has been riding its defense all season long. That didn’t change Friday night in a big Division III win at high-scoring Peoria Sunrise Mountain.

Sunrise Mountain was able to move the ball all night, but when it mattered most, Cactus’ defense came up big in a 49-28 win.

Cactus (7-2) held Sunrise Mountain to nearly half its season average and never gave up a lead it took just before halftime.

“To hold them to 28 points is a hell of a job,” Cactus coach Larry Fetkenhier said. “They’ve scored a lot of points against everybody.”

Cactus was able to score more in this one as it capitalized on some key Sunrise Mountain mistakes.

One play after Sunrise Mountain fumbled on its first snap of the second half, Cactus’ Jaylon James took a run in 22 yards for a touchdown to give Cactus a 27-14 lead.

Sunrise Mountain answered with a 13-play scoring drive to stay within a touchdown. But Cactus kept some distance as David Neel returned the ensuing kickoff 65 yards for a touchdown and a 35-21 lead after a 2-point conversion.

Sunrise Mountain was able to mount another long drive to get back within a touchdown at 35-28, but Cactus’ defense gave up no more.

First, Cactus forced a fumble and turned it into James’ third rushing touchdown. Then on Sunrise Mountain’s next possession, two drive-killing sacks gave the ball back to Cactus.

Cactus ultimately had to punt, but Sunrise Mountain muffed it, setting up Cactus deep in Sunrise Mountain territory.

James’ fourth touchdown two plays later iced the victory and made the game look like more of a blowout than it was.

Sunrise Mountain (7-2) outgained Cactus by about 200 yards, but that was no comfort to Sunrise Mountain coach James Carter.

“We can’t have turnovers against a good team,” Carter said. “And we had too many missed tackles.”

Cactus’ defense stepped up big at the end despite playing most of the game without talented defensive back Anthony Alcala.

Alcala was ejected in the first half for throwing a punch at a Sunrise Mountain player in a tackle pile. He will have to sit out next week’s big game against Peoria Liberty.