Tag Archives: Glendale

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.

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 azcentral.com • Fri Sep 28, 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 azcentral.com • 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 azcentral.com • Sept. 14, 2012

high schools

Nico Bayless’ 4 TDs lead Apollo past Peoria

by Jason Stone

Sometimes defenses click faster than offenses early in the season. That wasn’t the case Friday night at Glendale Apollo.
Nico Bayless scored four touchdowns in his first start at running back, and quarterback Jordan Gungl tossed three scores in his first start to lead Apollo to a 57-40 opening-week win over Peoria in a non-division game.
Peoria was playing its first game since 1985 without coach Doug Clapp, who resigned in the off-season, and the team also did not have its best defensive player. Linebacker John Fultz injured his foot lifting weights and said he likely will miss next week’s game, too.
Peoria certainly could have used all the help it could get against Apollo, which racked up 504 yards of offense and scored nearly every time it had the ball.
Running behind a talented offensive line, Bayless was a workhorse, gaining 177 yards on 21 carries.
“The offensive line was opening up holes all over the place,” Bayless said.
Apollo scored six first-half touchdowns and never punted in the game. Gungl tossed three touchdowns in the first half as Apollo led 27-7 in the first quarter.
Peoria got only as close as 13 in the second half.
“We’re very happy about the points we scored, but we’re not happy about the points we gave up,” Apollo coach Zach Threadgill said.
Peoria quarterback Dillon Gragnano kept the game from being a blowout by completing all 11 of his passes in the first half, including two for touchdowns. And running back Ira Rojas scored four touchdowns.
The high score of the game was foreshadowed by its beginning when the teams pulled off back-to-back kickoff returns for touchdowns.
Apollo’s Joseph Cortez started the season with a 92-yard scoring return before Rojas took one back 99 yards.

Published at azcentral.com • Aug. 25, 2012
Published at USAToday.com • Aug. 25, 2012