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GRIDIRON ARIZONA

Your Source for 6A & 5A High School Football Scores, Schedules, and Power Points

Week Three: 8 Shining Stars

Perry QB Purdy leading Pumas to 4-0 start

STAT BLOG:  9/11/17

Let's take a look at some players that stood out in last Friday night's action.

QUARTERBACK - Brock Purdy (Perry)

The 6-1, 195-pound signal caller continued his torrid start for the Pumas.  A year after passing for 42 touchdowns, Purdy already has 17 in four games.  Last Friday in a 55-14 win over O'Connor, he had three TD passes, ran for one, and was also on the receiving end of a Colby Dickie pass for a score.  On the trick play, Purdy lined up in shotgun, and handed it to his receiver who was in motion.  Purdy then ran uncovered in the flat on the right and hauled in the lob for a four-yard scoring play.
Next Up:  Perry (4-0) is home in Gilbert against Corona del Sol (1-3) this Friday.

RUNNING BACK - Jake Smith (Notre Dame)
The 6-1, 185-pound junior put up stats usually seen by a receiver.  Smith caught six passes for 277 yards (46.2-yard average) and four touchdowns last Friday.  Adding in his rushing and kick return numbers, he had 350 all-purpose yards.  Smith's recruiting has started to catch fire as well.  He received his first two offers from Vanderbilt and Illinois in the last four days.  Notre Dame Prep defeated St. Mary's 54-28 to remain perfect at 4-0.  Smith was selected as an Ed Doherty Award Performance Medallion winner for Week 3.  This makes him eligible for the Ed Doherty Award on Dec. 9.  The only thing that can cool down the Saints is the schedule, which sees them on a bye this week.
Next Up:  Notre Dame (4-0) is on the road in Pasadena against La Salle (1-2) on Sept. 22.

WIDE RECEIVER - Solomon Enis (North Canyon)
The 6-4, 200-pound senior put up stats usually seen by a running back.  Enis had 10 carries, including some as a Wildcat quarterback, for 261 yards and two touchdowns.  One of his runs went 95 yards to paydirt.  Enis also caught a pair of TD passes and scored a two-point conversion accounting for 26 of the points in the Rattlers' 28-21 victory at Agua Fria.  He is a national recruit that competed at The Opening over the summer in Oregon at Nike's headquarters.
Next Up:  North Canyon (2-2) is on the road at Maricopa (3-1) this Friday.

DEFENSIVE LINE - Luke Aschenbrand (Pinnacle)
The senior defensive tackle had his first two sacks of the season as the Pioneers shut down Mountain View's offense.  Aschenbrand (6-4, 270) was part of a Pinnacle defense that forced three turnovers in a 26-7 victory over the Toros.  In addition to his takedowns of the quarterback, Aschenbrand played on the offensive line.  Mountain View came into the game averaging 33 points per contest.  Aschenbrand has Division I offers from Air Force, Brown, Columbia, San Diego, and UC Davis.
Next Up:  Pinnacle (3-1) is on the road in Peoria against Centennial (3-0) this Thursday.

LINEBACKER - Jacob Olsen (Mountain Pointe)
The 5-11, 190-pound senior gave the Pride a comfortable early lead against Chandler with a 12-yard fumble recovery for a touchdown.  Olsen had four tackles and a sack in a 24-21 victory over the Wolves in a rematch of last November's 6A state championship game.  Moments after MPHS had taken a 7-0 lead late in the first quarter, Olsen's touchdown boosted the margin to two scores.  The last time an Arizona school held Chandler to that few of a point total was one year ago when Mountain Pointe defeated the Wolves 52-7.
Next Up:  Mountain Pointe (2-1) is on the road in Mesa against Mountain View (2-1) this Friday.

DEFENSIVE BACK - Clayton Hooper (Hamilton)
Hamilton made it three wins in four games this season with a 52-28 win over Desert Ridge.  Hooper intercepted two passes in the victory and returned them for a total of 33 yards.  The 5-10, 170-pound senior runs a 4.6 40-yard dash and his first pickoff led to the Huskies taking a 21-14 lead that they would never relinquish.
Next Up:  Hamilton (3-1) is at home in Chandler against Cesar Chavez (1-2) this Friday.

SPECIAL TEAMS - Andre Johnson (Tolleson)
The 6-3, 180-pound junior scored three different ways in a 37-14 win over Mesa.  Johnson caught a screen pass from Patrick Ortega and took it 35 yards early in the game.  Later in the first quarter, he recovered a blocked punt in the end zone.  Mesa finally got on the board late in the half to close the gap to 21-6, but on the ensuing kickoff, Johnson returned it 85 yards to the house.  Tolleson improved to 2-1 on the season and is currently the only team in the 6A Southwest Region with a winning record.
Next Up:  Tolleson (2-1) is on the road in Glendale at Mountain Ridge (1-2) this Friday.

TEAM - Verrado
The Vipers were coming off their first loss of the season a week prior against Millennium, so many were surprised to see Verrado bounce back and end Williams Field's 17-game winning streak last Friday with a 19-9 win in Buckeye.  Verrado trailed 3-0, but scored its first points in the second quarter on a touchdown pass from Titan Widjaja to receiver Elijah Johnson.  Before halftime, the lead extended to 13-3 on a second TD pass from Widjaja.  That one went to Lateef Hampton.  Ja'Tai Jenkins ended any thoughts the Black Hawks had of a comeback with a burst through the line resulting in a 71-yard touchdown run.  In its first three games, Williams Field had not allowed a point in the first half.  Defensively, Zach Jernigan (7 tackles), Blake Spear (interception), and Cooper Stigsell (6 tackles, 1 fumble recovery) had big games as Williams Field was held to under 10 points for the first time since 2015 (Skyline).
Next Up:  Verrado (3-1) is on the road in Peoria against Liberty (2-1) this Friday.


PHOTO CAPTION:  Perry quarterback Brock Purdy surveys the field during one of the Pumas' prior games.  On Friday, the three-year starter had 243 yards to go with three passing touchdowns, one rushing, and another one receiving in Perry's 55-14 win over O'Connor.  Purdy is one of 43 players featured on the first edition of the 2017 Watch List by the Grand Canyon State Gridiron Club.  At the end of the season, one player from the state will be awarded the Ed Doherty trophy and will be recognized as the state's Player of the Year.  Gridiron Arizona is honored to be represented as one of the media entities that will vote on the award.

 

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Week Three: Paradise Valley 27 Shadow Mountain 19

Strong defense puts Trojans in win column

WEEKLY BLOG:  9/8/17

It's Year Two of the rebuilding project at Paradise Valley and head coach Greg Davis' young team has been making strides.  It just wasn't evident on the scoreboard.

Until Friday night's Homecoming game against district-rival Shadow Mountain.

It took a full 48 minutes, but the Trojans logged their first win of the season behind a running game led by Kevin Lutz and a defense that didn't give up big plays.

Paradise Valley came into this game averaging 280 yards through the air, but just 41 on the ground.  The Trojans were determined to reverse that trend from the start.

Tristin Lee gave PVHS the field position advantage early on with a 64-yard punt that went over the return man's head and was downed on the 4-yard line.  Following a three-and out, sophomore Caleb Diaz gave the Trojans' a short field with a punt return to the Shadow Mountain 30-yard line.

In a seven-play drive that featured six runs, sophomore running back Kyle Krautstrunk took a handoff up the middle for a 14-yard score giving Paradise Valley (1-3) its first lead of the season.

"No offensive coordinator wants to throw the ball 90 percent of the time," Davis said.  "We felt like they would stack the box and we would be able to get outside."

The Matadors struck back with an 80-yard drive.  Junior running back Ronnie Fagan scooted around the left on a 16-yard run to even the game at 7-7.

Special teams went the Trojans' way as well.  Manny "El Pie (The Foot)" Higuera booted a 29-yard field goal for the only scoring in the second quarter.  Higuera isn't your prototypical kicker.  The senior is 5-5 and 253 pounds.

Paradise Valley's defense had been lit up in each of the season's first three weeks allowing 54, 49, and 50 points in defeats to Verrado, Maricopa, and Horizon (each of whom are now 3-1).  But, the Trojans held firm late in the half when SMHS had it in the red zone.  Paradise Valley forced an incomplete pass on fourth-and-19 from the Trojan 24-yard line.

Shadow Mountain (1-2) took its only lead when Fagan went up the middle from 10 yards out to hit paydirt early in the third quarter.  However, the extra-point attempt was blocked and the Matadors were up 13-10.

Lutz did much of his running lined up in the Wildcat formation and taking the direct snap.  He went up the middle for his longest run of the year (32 yards) to give Paradise Valley back the lead.

"I saw my O-Line open up a hole for me and I just took it," Lutz said.  "I made a few moves on the second level and refused to go down."

The game took a turn midway through the third quarter when Fagan, who had 21 carries for a game-high 116 yards, went down with a sprained ankle and was unable to return.  The Matadors were stymied again on fourth down, this time near midfield as senior linebacker Max Seifer intercepted a pass.

"Their QB does a great job extending plays and getting out of the pocket," Seifer said.  "I saw an open receiver.  My safety and I both converged on it and I just got the bigger jump."

Early in the fourth, Higuera kicked his fifth field goal of the season to boost the lead to seven.  The 47-yarder was his career best.

Despite missing its leading rusher, Shadow Mountain responded with a 72-yard drive.  A 51-yard pass play from junior quarterback Nainoa Shin (who was a receiver last season) to Jalen Williams was the key play.  After Shin scored on a 5-yard keeper, the Matadors were within 20-19.  However, that was as close as they would get.  The PAT was wide right.

Shadow Mountain tried to keep the momentum with an onside kick, which was successfully recovered, but flagged for having the kick hit into the ground first (a new rule).  It was controversial as Shadow Mountain head coach Ron Fagan clearly did not believe this was the case.

"You have the referees that change the outcome of a game," Fagan said.  "It's ridiculous."

Following the penalty that took away possession from Shadow Mountain, Fagan had to be restrained by two of his assistants and was hit with a personal foul penalty.

It was a common theme throughout the night as SMHS was penalized 17 times for 165 yards.  Seven of them were personal foul (15-yard) infractions.

"Our guys need to be more disciplined," Fagan, who is the father of Ronnie, said.  "You have to be smarter."

Paradise Valley gained possession following a normal kickoff (from Shadow Mountain's 20) and drove the field.  More importantly, the Trojans were letting a lot of time tick down and forced SMHS to use all three of its time outs.  On third-and-goal from the 5-yard line, Lutz ran it up the middle for his second touchdown of the night.  It left the Matadors with just 1:46 to mount a comeback.

Shadow Mountain crossed midfield, but on fourth down from the Trojan 41-yard line, Shin's pass fell incomplete as time expired.

To celebrate the team's first win, the students poured out of the stands and onto the artificial turf field.  But it wasn't just to congratulate their football team, there were Trojan Jacks to be done first as the team and fans ringed the field.  In addition to the game, there has been spirit days throughout the week and a tailgate before the game.  Defensive lineman Corbin Overton (who had a sack) was crowned Homecoming King at the half.

Both schools have similar rosters of 30 to 35 players on it, which is small for 4A and 5A schools.

Paradise Valley started 10 sophomores and had a lot of juniors and seniors that hadn't spent much time on the varsity field until this season.

The Trojans only passed for 90 yards, but ran the ball for 186 yards with Lutz toting the rock for 114 of them (20 carries).

"Our guys up front are always going to be undersized," Davis said.  "The way they played tonight was really special and they're the reason we won the game."

Seifer left the game late, but it was due to a cramp.  As a senior, he sees the progress that the team is making.

"We've all been working hard with a lot of underclassmen," Seifer, who also had a sack in the game, said.  "Now a lot of them are gaining experience and they're growing up and carrying this team."

At 0-3, and overmatched each week, a lot of teams might just pack up the tent.  The coaches on the PVHS staff haven't allowed that to sink into the team.

"They just believe in us a lot," Lutz said.  "They never let us get down."

Shadow Mountain came into the game ranked No. 15 in 4A by Arizona Varsity.  Coming in, this appeared to be a game on paper, that they should have won.  If you're carving out a way for the Matadors to end a six-year playoff drought, it was one they needed.  Shadow Mountain still has Greenway, Cactus Shadows, and Saguaro on the schedule.

The Matadors will finally play their home opener next Friday against Coronado (0-3).

"The school is getting behind us," Fagan said.  "Everything is going in the right direction."

Paradise Valley will travel to Goldwater next week.  It's an opponent the Trojans defeated last season, but this year's Bulldog team is 3-0 and averaging 344 yards per game on the ground.

"We need to make sure we work on our tackling," Davis said.  "The tackling is still not where we need to be."
 

Trojans 27, Matadors 19
  1 2 3 4 F
Shadow Mountain 7 0 6  6 19
Paradise Valley 7 3 7 10 27

First Quarter:
PV - Kyle Krautstrunk 14 yard run (Manny Higuera kick), 6:09
SM - Ronnie Fagan 16 yard run (Jalen Williams), 3:30
Second Quarter:
PV - Higuera 29 yard FG, 10:37
Third Quarter:
SM - Fagan 10 yard run (kick blocked), 9:36
PV - Kevin Lutz 32 yard run (Higuera kick), 6:39
Fourth Quarter:
PV - Higuera 47 yard FG, 11:44
SM - Nainoa Shin 5 yard run (kick failed), 6:55
PV - Lutz 5 yard run (Higuera kick), 1:46


PHOTO CAPTION:  Paradise Valley senior linebacker Max Seifer brings down Shadow Mountain's quarterback for a sack in the Trojans' 27-19 Homecoming win on Friday in North Phoenix.  In addition to the sack, Seifer hauled in a 21-yard pass to keep the chains moving in the final offensive drive for PVHS to ice the game.  The victory was the 20th consecutive for the Trojans' in the series against their PVUSD rivals.  The Matadors' last win against Paradise Valley came in 1987 (PV leads the all-time series, 25-8).

 

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Week Two: 8 Shining Stars

Mesa RB Jackson produces points in Jackrabbits' first win

STAT BLOG:  9/5/17

The calendar hit September in the high school football season last weekend.  Let's take a look at some players that stood out.

QUARTERBACK - Billy Bolger (Chandler)

The 6-4, 220-pounder made his first varsity start in a high-pressure situation at Pinnacle.  Filling in for an injured Jacob Conover (shoulder), Bolger completed 21 of his 31 passes for for five touchdowns in a 35-28 win.  Four of his scoring tosses went to running back Drake Anderson, including the game-winner in overtime.  Bolger, who carries a 4.7 GPA, got his feet wet during the second half of the Wolves' previous game against IMG Academy and is expected to start once again this Friday in a rematch of teams that last met at University of Phoenix Stadium for a 6A title.
Next Up:  Chandler (2-1) is home against Mountain Pointe (1-1) this Friday.

RUNNING BACK - Kris Jackson (Mesa)
The 5-11, 210-pound senior running back had a total of four touchdowns with three of those coming on the ground.  Jackson finished with 290 yards on his 24 carries with his longest run at 85 yards.  The three-year starter hit 30 career TDs for the Jackrabbits in a 60-19 victory over Copper Canyon.  He has eclipsed the 100-yard mark rushing and caught a touchdown pass in each of Mesa's first three games.  After being outscored by an 83-32 count the first two weeks, this was the first win of the season for MHS.
Next Up:  Mesa (1-2) is at Tolleson (1-1) this Friday.

WIDE RECEIVER - Noa Pola-Gates (Williams Field)
The 6-2, 155-pound two-way player carried much of the load as the Black Hawks boosted their record to 3-0.  Pola-Gates had a pair of rushing touchdowns (from 38 and 21 yards), a 60-yard TD on a pass reception on a bomb, and a 57-yard interception return for a score.  Williams Field won its 17th consecutive game, 42-6 at home against Ironwood, in Salute to Service night.  The Black Hawks scored all of their points in the first half.
Next Up:  Williams Field (3-0) is on the road at Verrado (2-1) this Friday.

DEFENSIVE LINE - Jared Mix (Mesa Mountain View)
The senior defensive end tallied four sacks and had seven tackles for the Toros as they won for the second consecutive week.  Mix (6-3, 230) was part of a Mountain View defense that forced three turnovers in a 35-18 victory over Corona del Sol.  In addition to his takedowns of the quarterback, Mix batted two passes down at the line of scrimmage.  He was hyped for the Toros' first home game of the season and picked up on what the offensive tackle was doing so he could make his moves.  The Aztecs rushed for just 48 yards on 20 carries.
Next Up:  Mountain View (2-0) is on the road in North Phoenix against Pinnacle (2-1) this Friday.

LINEBACKER - Tyler Thompson (Poston Butte)

The 5-9, 170-pound senior was the Broncos' leading tackler on Friday in a 35-21 come-from-behind win in Glendale against Independence.  Thompson had 14 tackles, 1.5 sacks, and also contributed on offense with a rushing touchdown.  Trailing 21-7 at the half, Poston Butte outscored the Patriots 28-0 in the last 24 minutes to give Tyler's father, Dain, his first head coaching victory at the San Tan Valley school.
Next Up:  Poston Butte (1-1) is at Glendale (2-0) this Friday.

DEFENSIVE BACK - Gbara Mene-Bie, Jr. (Marana Mountain View)
Mountain View earned its first win last Friday in an emphatic way with a 63-0 pasting of Rincon.  Mene-Bie, Jr. intercepted two passes in the victory and brought one of them back for a touchdown.  The 5-10, 170-pound senior runs a 4.7 40-yard dash and was part of the Mountain Lions' track team last spring.
Next Up:  Mountain View (1-1) is on the road in South Tucson against Sunnyside (1-2) this Friday.

SPECIAL TEAMS - Terrell Hayward (Cienega)
The 5-9, 145-pound junior scored in a trio of ways in the Bobcats' 51-6 win over Shadow Ridge.  Hayward caught a long pass (66 yards) from Jamarye Joiner for a first quarter score.  In the second quarter, he struck twice more with a pick-six on defense (88 yards) and a 61-yard punt return.  Cienega made noise in the playoffs last season advancing to the 5A semifinals.  This team has the look of one that can at least repeat that run.
Next Up:  Cienega (2-0) is at home in Vail against Nogales (0-2) this Friday.

TEAM - Brophy
The Broncos got their first win of the season Friday night and had to rally to do it.  Trailing Westview, 27-13 early in the fourth quarter, Brophy College Prep drew closer on a 7-yard touchdown pass from Noah Gonzales to senior Donovan Arthur.  The Knights tried to drain clock, but were unable to convert on fourth down at the Brophy 34-yard line.  Gonzales led the Broncos down the field and the team hit paydirt on a TD pass to tight end John Waters with 25 seconds remaining.  Head coach Scooter Molander could have sent in kicker Jackson Garcia to tie things up and most likely head for overtime, but he decided to take the risk and sent the offense back out.  Gonzales connected with fullback Erik Dimaria for the two-point conversion, and the 28-27 victory.  Starring on defense for the Broncos was safety Marques White, who had a pair of sacks, two forced fumbles, and an interception.
Next Up:  Brophy (1-2) is on the road in Gilbert against Highland (3-0) this Friday.


PHOTO CAPTION:  Mesa running back Kris Jackson running during one of the Jackrabbits' prior games.  On Friday, the three-year starter had a career-high 290 yards to go with three rushing touchdowns and another one receiving in Mesa's 60-19 win over Copper Canyon.  Jackson is one of 43 players featured on the first edition of the 2017 Watch List by the Grand Canyon State Gridiron Club.  At the end of the season, one player from the state will be awarded the Ed Doherty trophy and will be recognized as the state's Player of the Year.  Gridiron Arizona is proud to be represented as one of the media entities that will vote on the award.

 

Follow me on:  Twitter.com/gridironarizona


Week Two: Chandler 35 Pinnacle 28 (OT)

4 TD receptions for Anderson leads Chandler to thrilling overtime win

WEEKLY BLOG:  9/1/17

Just because the Chandler Wolves are defending state champions, it doesn't mean they have some adversity to overcome in their quest for another title.

Here we are, just three games into the season, and Chandler played without its starting quarterback Jacob Conover, lost two linebackers, a receiver, and a safety to injury during the high-profile showdown at Pinnacle High, and was playing on one fewer day of rest than normal after hosting national powerhouse IMG Academy out of Florida last Saturday.

It took more than four quarters before Chandler fans could exhale and take pride in a victory.

The host Pioneers rallied from a 28-14 fourth-quarter deficit to force overtime.  In the alternating possessions format (from the 10-yard line), the Wolves, who never trailed in the game, scored in two plays when senior Billy Bolger threw his fifth touchdown pass of the night.  Running back Drake Anderson dove into the end zone after pulling in a short reception.

In Pinnacle's attempt, junior quarterback Spencer Rattler completed a pass to Hayden Hatten, who lunged towards the goal line with the ball stretched out.  Chandler's Javan Ah Quin knocked the ball loose and sophomore Bryant Jackson snatched up the fumble to put a sudden end to what was an entertaining game.

"Drake had a great game," Bolger, who was making his first start at quarterback said.  "Our offensive line played phenomenal two weeks in a row."

It was a grinding and physical contest that saw Chandler's leading receiver Gunner Romney limp off the field with a leg contusion.  Linebackers Zach Bowers and Mathew Koziol left during the first half and sophomore safety Gunner Maldonado was sidelined with some tightness.

"Our backups played really well," Chandler head coach Shaun Aguano said.  "I'm glad they stepped up."

Chandler (2-1) scored touchdowns on each of its first two drives in the opening quarter.  Bolger hit Anderson with a pass on the left sideline that Anderson turned on the jets and went 53 yards on to begin the scoring.

The Pioneers answered with Rattler going 5-for-5 in the drive with big gains to Hatten and Parker Redd to reach the red zone.  From the 6-yard line, Pinnacle knotted it up on a pass play to Hatten in the corner of the end zone.

Bolger, who had 238 yards passing in the game, had 105 of those in the first quarter.  After a grueling 14-play, 80-yard drive that took over five minutes in Chandler's no-huddle offense, Bolger completed a short pass to Anderson to put the Wolves on top 14-7.

That was the way the score would remain at halftime.  In the second quarter, both teams encountered bad snaps.  For Pinnacle, it created a third-and-30 situation as two flew over the head of Rattler.  Chandler had a snap go over punter Cash Peterman's head and towards the end zone.  He showed some moxie by recovered it, scrambled, and got the punt off making Pinnacle start near midfield.  From there, the Pioneers advanced the ball inside the Wolves' 15-yard line in the final minute, but Bryce Jackson, Bryant's older brother, intercepted a pass in the end zone.

Like the first half, Chandler scored on its first two drives in the third quarter.  Bolger scrambled on third-and-23 and the seas parted as he found an opening for 21 yards.  For the second week in a row, Aguano went for it on fourth down inside the red zone.  It wasn't successful against IMG, but it worked against Pinnacle.  On fourth-and-two, Bolger hit Anderson, who took it in for a touchdown.

Pinnacle (2-1) pulled a fake punt out of its bag of tricks for this one as Rattler completed a 13-yard pass to senior Dylan Stevenson to reach the 28-yard line.  The Pioneers cashed it in with a second TD pass from Rattler to Hatten to draw back within seven.  Rattler completed 21 of his 29 passes for 230 yards.  He surpassed the 6,000-yard career mark in the game and with a couple of playoff runs has a good chance to finish his career (next year) as the state's all-time yardage leader.

The Wolves increased their lead on a drive with nine straight runs.  It was primarily a two-back attack with Anderson and junior DeCarlos Brooks that got Chandler to the Pinnacle 4-yard line.  A bad snap (yes, another one) backed it up to the 15, followed by a blindside block costing the Wolves another 15.  From the 30-yard line, Bolger dialed up a touchdown pass to Dylan Fernandez early in the fourth quarter for a 28-14 advantage.

But, PHS would not be denied quite yet.  Junior running back Amelec Juntunen found a hole in the Chandler defense and blasted through it for a 42-yard touchdown run.  Following an interception by Pinnacle two-way player Quinton Powell, Juntunen struck again going on another game-breaking (30-yard) run.  That tied the game with just over three minutes remaining in regulation.  Juntunen now has five touchdowns on the season.

Chandler was able to survive a rash of penalties.  The Wolves were flagged 14 times (10 in the second half) for 138 yards.

Anderson has had his own personal comeback story this year.  He was out of football the past two seasons with injuries.  Those necessitated a bilateral labral repair surgery on his hips.  He rushed for 108 yards on 14 carries while pulling down 95 yards on five receptions.

"It feels good," Anderson said of the victory.  "It was a tough week.  I was still feeling a little sore from Saturday.

When the schedule came out, this was billed as a showdown between Conover and Rattler and Bolger filled in admirably with 21-of-30 passing for 245 yards.

"Losing Gunner (Romney) hurts, but we had some guys step up and make plays," Bolger said.  "(After Pinnacle rallied) it was just keep calm, have ball security, and execute."

Pinnacle entered the game having outscored Brophy and Basha by a 94-10 count.  Many wondered if the Pioneers were "for real".  They certainly showed they could go toe-to-toe with the top-ranked team among all four media outlets that come out with 6A rankings.

"There is no question we matched up with them physically up front," Pinnacle head coach Dana Zupke said.  "I thought we were pretty evenly matched."

Before Desert Valley Region play begins, Pinnacle still has games against Mountain View, Centennial, and Mountain Pointe.  Next week, the Toros (2-0) visit North Phoenix and the Pinnacle Crazies. 

"It doesn't get any easier," Zupke said.  It's great that we can play with that team, but we just got to get over the hump."

Chandler will face Mountain Pointe (1-1) next week at home in Austin Field.  Like the Wolves this week, MPHS will be coming off an out-of-state loss.  The Pride was defeated 39-25 on Thursday by Chaminade in the Brothers-in-Arms Classic in Southern California.

"We got to go back to work," Aguano said.  "We got to go back to the chalkboard and get ready to play again."

Wolves 35, Pioneers 28
  1 2 3 4 OT F
Chandler 14 0 7  7  7 35
Pinnacle  7 0 7 14  0 28

First Quarter:
Chan - Drake Anderson 53 yard pass from Billy Bolger (Cash Peterman kick), 9:13
Pinn - Hayden Hatten 6 yard pass from Spencer Rattler (Jake Veach kick), 6:07
Chan - Anderson 5 yard pass from Bolger (Peterman kick), 0:54
Second Quarter:
No Scoring
Third Quarter:
Chan - Anderson 12 yard pass from Bolger (Peterman kick), 8:43
Pinn - Hatten 4 yard pass from Rattler (Veach kick), 3:36
Fourth Quarter:
Chan - Dylan Fernandez 30 yard pass from Bolger (Peterman kick), 11:20
Pinn - Amelec Juntunen 42 yard run (Veach kick), 9:22
Pinn - Juntunen 32 yard run (Veach kick), 3:13
Overtime:
Chan - Anderson 5 yard pass from Bolger (Peterman kick)


PHOTO CAPTION:  Chandler running back Drake Anderson gets around a Pinnacle defender during the Wolves' 35-28 overtime road win on Friday.  Anderson scored four touchdowns (all receiving) to take the team lead with seven scores on the year.  He had just over 200 yards of total offense as CHS improved to 2-1 on the season.

 

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Week One: 8 Shining Stars

Cienega QB Joiner gets season started with 7 total TDs in shootout

STAT BLOG:  8/28/17

It was the first full slate of games last weekend.  Let's take a look at some players that stood out.

QUARTERBACK - Jamarye Joiner (Cienega)

The 6-2, 205-pound dual-threat QB accounted for seven touchdowns against Marana.  The Bobcats needed both of Joiner's two TD passes (239 yards) and five rushing scores (170 yards) in a wild 57-50 shootout win.  Joiner committed to Arizona last September.  Despite that, it didn't stop Arizona State from offering Joiner when Cienega won a 7-on-7 tournament in Tempe in June.  The Marana game was the opener for CHS in '17.  Cienega has now won 14 consecutive regular season games.
Next Up:  Cienega (1-0) is home in Vail against Shadow Ridge (0-2) this Friday.

RUNNING BACK - Tyrese Green (McClintock)
The 5-8, 165-pound senior running back found the end zone four times on the ground and once more on an 88-yard kickoff return (to start the game).  Green finished with 166 yards on his 20 carries.  He had 292 all-purpose yards as the Chargers rolled to a 42-6 victory at Vista Grande.  McClintock scored all of its points in a first half that saw it post 280 yards.  It was the first win for new head coach Corbin Smith.
Next Up:  McClintock (1-0) is at Marana (0-2) this Friday.

WIDE RECEIVER - Dylen Bieber (Liberty)
The 5-9, 165-pound receiver torched the Boulder Creek secondary with five catches for 159 yards and three touchdowns.  His longest reception was 60 yards and he did it all without the use of gloves.  Liberty avenged a narrow defeat to Boulder Creek last season with a resounding 42-7 win.  I had the chance to see Bieber and his new QB Ryan Bendle during the Arizona Christian passing tournament in Scottsdale back in June.  It was an event the Lions won.  The results from Friday show that Liberty wasn't just a good 7-on-7 team.
Next Up:  Liberty (1-0) is on the road at Arcadia (0-2) this Friday.

DEFENSIVE LINE - Tyler Ayre (Westwood)
The junior defensive end tallied three sacks and had four tackles for the Warriors as they bounced back from a season-opening loss with a 30-26 victory in Glendale against Copper Canyon.  Ayre (6-4, 230) was part of an inspired Westwood defense that stopped the Aztecs from getting in the end zone early in the game after having it first-and-goal at the 1.  One of Copper Canyon's touchdowns came after the Aztecs capitalized on a fumbled Westwood punt return and another was on a CCHS punt return.  The Warriors snapped a seven-game losing streak with the victory.
Next Up:  Westwood (1-1) is at home in Mesa against Perry (2-0) this Friday.

LINEBACKER - Jeremiah Hollen (Mesa Mountain View)
The 6-1, 170-pound junior was the star of the YurView televised game last Thursday with a pair of touchdowns.  In the first half, Hollen alertly scooped up a Valley Vista fumble and went 20 yards untouched to the end zone.  He had a team-high 10 tackles in the Toros' 31-7 win in Surprise.  Hollen helped MVHS put the game away in the third quarter with a short touchdown run.
Next Up:  Mountain View (1-0) is at home in Mesa against Corona del Sol (1-1) this Friday.

DEFENSIVE BACKS - Dylan Stevenson & Quinton Powell (Pinnacle)
Last year, the knock on Pinnacle was its defense.  This season, the Pioneers have jumped out to a 2-0 start and have allowed just 10 points.  Against Basha last Friday (in a 49-3 win), Stevenson and Powell (both cornerbacks) defensed a combined five passes and frustrated the Bears into completing just 14 of 35 passes (40 percent) for 120 yards.  The longest pass Basha completed all night was just 15 yards.  Stevenson (6-0, 165) is a senior and Powell (5-8, 155) is a junior.
Next Up:  Pinnacle (2-0) is at home in North Phoenix against Chandler (1-1) this Friday.

SPECIAL TEAMS - Brayden Narveson (Desert Mountain)
The 6-1, 185-pound senior kicker booted a 58-yard field goal in the Wolves' 51-26 win over Mesa.  The Iowa State commit is currently ranked as the #6 kicker nationally by 247Sports.  At a camp, the kicker rated five stars by Kohl's Kicking, previously hit a 62-yarder.  Narveson also kicks off and put seven of his nine attempts into the end zone forcing the Jackrabbits to start from their own 20.  With all of the offense, DMHS was only forced to punt two times in the game.  Narveson averaged 43.5 yards on those punts.
Next Up:  Desert Mountain (2-0) is on the road in Scottsdale at Notre Dame this Friday.

TEAM - Buena
The Colts snapped a 22-game losing streak Friday with a 14-7 victory at Flowing Wells.  The school, in Sierra Vista, had not seen the win column in a game since October 24, 2014 (when current seniors were freshmen).  Running back Lawrence Prior and sophomore QB Jovoni Borbon scored first-half touchdowns.  The Colts' defense held on in the last 24 minutes to give head coach Joe Thomas (hired before the 2015 season) his first win at BHS.  Buena lost to the Caballeros a year ago, 48-13.
Next Up:  Buena (1-1) is at home in Sierra Vista against Sunnyside (1-1) this Friday.


PHOTO CAPTION:  Cienega quarterback Jamarye Joiner competed at the U.S. Army National Combine last January in San Antonio.  The invited athletes were tested in drills such as the 40-yard dash, 20-yard shuttle, vertical jump, broad jump, three-cone shuttle, and power pushup.  In the shuttle, Joiner posted one of the best times (7.2 seconds) in an event similar to barrel racing.  Last year, he led Cienega to an undefeated regular season and a 5A semifinal appearance.  If the Bobcats can go one step further in 2017, they will play the title game at Arizona Stadium in Tucson.  The AIA announced the UA venue will host the 4A, 5A, and 6A games (to be played Dec. 2) on Monday.

 

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Week One: Chaparral 24 Horizon 20

Firebirds' defense stifles Horizon down stretch to get first win

WEEKLY BLOG:  8/25/17

For the second week in a row, the Chaparral Firebirds grabbed an early lead and held it deep into the fourth quarter.

This time, the defense made the plays in the final minute to preserve a victory.

When Horizon's fourth-and-three pass from the Firebird 36-yard line was tipped by a receiver and fell harmlessly to the ground, all of Chaptown could finally exhale as the game was won.  Chaparral (1-1) prevailed 24-20 in a game played at Arcadia High School.

The contest was moved from Chaparral due to the new artificial turf not being completed yet.  It is expected to be finished in time for the Firebirds' next home game on Sept. 15.

Just seven days ago, Chaparral took a 27-7 lead into the fourth quarter at Desert Mountain before the Wolves scored on the last play of the game to edge CHS 28-27.

"We didn't want to put our defense in that position again," Chaparral head coach Thomas Lewis said.  "(Defensive Coordinator) Conrad (Hamilton) does a great job.  They were up for the challenge, and they made the plays when it counted."

Chaparral's defense didn't allow a point in the fourth quarter on Friday and surrendered just 99 second-half yards in the win.

Most of the fireworks happened early in this one.  On the Firebirds' second play from scrimmage, sophomore running back Darvon Hubbard exploded through a hole on the left side of the line and took off en route to an 83-yard touchdown.

"It was a counter," Hubbard, who just moved to Scottsdale three weeks ago from Ohio, said.  "The line said they were going to open some holes for me.  I trust them and that's what they did."

Horizon (1-1) gambled on fourth-and-one from its own 42-yard line on its next possession and was stopped as junior Nate Robinson made the tackle.  Chaparral quarterback Davis Chauhan took advantage of the short field hooking up with Deavon Crawford for a 29-yard gain and then found sophomore Tommy Christakos in the left corner of the end zone for a 14-0 lead.

But the Huskies came right back with their rushing offense, which incorporates inside zone, the triple option, and the veer.  Nash Giffin took a handoff up the middle and cruised down the field, finally being dragged down at the 1-yard line.  From there, quarterback Isaac Enriquez (who had 100 rushing yards) took it in for a score on a keeper to cut the deficit in half.  The junior signal caller kept plays alive all night with his scrambling ability.

Later in the first quarter, a Huskies' punt from their own 20-yard line was blocked by junior Alex Monson.  Chaparral made quick work of that one, scoring in just two plays with Hubbard finding an opening and running it to the right side for his second touchdown of the game.  He finished with a game-high 125 yards.

Lewis was particularly impressed with his special teams.  It was the second straight game that Monson blocked a punt.

"That's the key of the game," Lewis said.  "Monson put us in a position to win the game."

Monson also plays cornerback in the secondary for the Firebirds.

"Coach just told me to go up edge and see what I could get," Monson said.  "I did what I had to do and put the offense in good position."

Horizon drew closer in the second quarter.  Giffin, who finished with 106 yards, took a pitch and sprinted 35 yards down the right sideline for a touchdown.  The Huskies later recovered a fumble at the Chaparral 30 with just 24 seconds remaining in the half.  Junior kicker Cole Johnson drilled a 45-yard field goal to make the score 21-17 at the intermission.

In the first half, the Huskies ran more plays and led in yardage (253-179), but trailed on the scoreboard.

Turnovers plagued Horizon's ability to rally in the third quarter.  The Huskies lost two fumbles in the period (and four for the game).  As for the scoring, Christakos and Johnson exchanged field goals from just over 40 yards.

Linebacker Braxen Tessler had a tremendous game for the Firebirds and likely led the team in tackles.  He plays next to his older brother, Zien.

"Braxen loves contact," Lewis said.  "He's an emotional leader on the defensive side of the ball.  He and his brother feed off each other."

On the Horizon side, 6-2, 220-pound defensive lineman Jonah Brownell impressed.  The captain was around the ball throughout.

In the fourth quarter, neither team was able to take advantage with penalties, a missed field goal, or fumbles halting offensive progress.

"They were bringing double-edge blitz," Horizon head coach Ty Wisdom said.  "It was causing our offensive linemen some fits."

Monson said the coaches reminded the players throughout the week of the need to finish and execute after last week's lead dissolved.

"We knew we'd come after them with a few blitzes," Monson said.  "We just played man coverage behind."

Chaparral has next week off before heading to California on Sept. 8 to play Valencia (0-0).  Lewis welcomes the early bye as he has five kids on the roster that weren't able to practice during the week with bronchial infections.  Also, a few players are banged up in the season's first couple of weeks.  Finally, sophomore transfer quarterback Jack Miller will have his appeal heard by then.  Miller is currently set to sit out the first five games of the season when his hardship appeal was denied.

Horizon will regroup and have its home opener next Friday against Paradise Valley (0-2).  Wisdom knows there is a long ways to go in the year and the time is now to make adjustments.

"We're going to correct our mistakes," Wisdom said.  "At the end of the day, we want to be playing our best football in October.  This team will have a chance."

Firebirds 24, Huskies 20
  1 2 3 4 F
Horizon  7 10 3 0 20
Chaparral   21  0 3 0 24

First Quarter:
Chap - Darvon Hubbard 83 yard run (Tommy Christakos kick), 11:09
Chap - Christakos 9 yard pass from Davis Chauhan (Christakos kick), 7:29
Hor - Isaac Enriquez 1 yard run (Cole Johnson kick), 5:27
Chap - Hubbard 13 yard run (Christakos kick), 1:20
Second Quarter:
Hor - Nash Giffin 35 yard run (Johnson kick), 5:27
Hor - Johnson 45 yard FG, 0:00
Third Quarter:
Chap - Christakos 43 yard FG, 7:05
Hor - Johnson 41 yard FG, 2:20
Fourth Quarter:
No Scoring


PHOTO CAPTION:  Chaparral senior linebacker Dalton Hein (left) and junior linebacker Zien Tessler (right) gang up to bring down a Horizon ball carrier Friday night at Arcadia HS.  The Firebirds held Horizon to just three second-half points and held on for a 24-20 victory in a non-region game.  Chaparral will next play in Valencia (near Los Angeles) on Sept. 8.  Horizon and Chaparral are both 1-1 on the season.

 

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Zero Week: 8 Shining Stars

Hamilton's Jordan scores 5 TDs in opening win at BC

STAT BLOG:  8/21/17

The 2017 season has begun!  For more than 50 6A and 5A schools, things got under way with what is commonly known as "Zero Week".  Most teams that have now played a game will have a bye week at some point in the season.

And I missed it.

For just the second time in the eight-plus years of running this site, I had prior out-of-town family commitments that relegated me to following the action in a hotel room last Friday.   Fortunately, with today's technology, I was able to keep pretty close tabs with what was going on.

So, I started wondering what to do with this space with no game recap from last Friday.  I figured it would be a good idea to look back on what I did miss (and you may have missed), and spotlight some of the great performances that occurred.

The plan is to make this a regular feature that will be up each week following the Monday Night Football game.  We'll take a look at eight different categories and find a standout performer or team for "8 Shining Stars".

QUARTERBACK - Jordan Porter (Cholla)
The 5-10, 180-pound signal caller burned Douglas while throwing for 416 yards and five touchdown passes.  When he wasn't lighting it up through the air, Porter was doing damage on the ground with a team-high 173 yards and three more TDs.  Best of all, the Chargers equaled last season's win total in a 59-28 victory on the road.  In a penalty-filled game, Cholla never punted.
Next Up:  Cholla is home in Tucson against Amphitheater this Friday.

RUNNING BACK - Jawhar Jordan (Hamilton)
The 5-11, 185-pound Syracuse commit found the end zone four times on the ground with 215 yards on just 13 carries.  He added a fifth touchdown on a 27-yard reception from a shovel pass.  When he wasn't scoring TDs, Jordan was getting the Huskies in position with a 33-yard punt return to the 20-yard line early in the game.  After the game, Jordan said he had been battling the flu throughout the week.  A 42-28 victory in Anthem at Boulder Creek was just what Hamilton needed following its tumultuous offseason.
Next Up:  Hamilton is home in Chandler against Queen Creek this Friday.

WIDE RECEIVER - Jacob Cowing (Maricopa)
The 5-7, 140-pound receiver did a job on the Willow Canyon secondary with eight receptions for 275 yards and a pair of touchdowns.  It was a balanced offense for the Rams with QB Alec Smith and the ground game of Cam'Ron Sanders and Kemo Atkins that started the season with a resounding 45-13 home win.  Maricopa repeatedly made the Wildcats pay for trying to cover Cowing one-on-one.  In his entire sophomore year on the varsity, Cowing had 112 yards in 2016.
Next Up:  Maricopa is on the road at Paradise Valley this Friday.

DEFENSIVE LINE - Osman Shariff (South Mountain)
The senior defensive end tallied three sacks and had six tackles for the Jaguars as they rolled to a 34-7 win over Maryvale.  Shariff was part of an inspired South Mountain defense that kept the Panthers out of the end zone until the fourth quarter, when the game was already decided.  The victory came by the largest margin for SMHS since the 2010 season.  It's also the first time since 2008 that the Jaguars have begun a season at 1-0.
Next Up:  South Mountain is at home in South Phoenix against Trevor Browne this Friday.

LINEBACKER - Anthony Ross Jones (Basha)
The 6-2, 215-pound senior made 15 tackles (eight solo) and forced a fumble as the Bears won their first game under new head coach Rich Wellbrock at Westview by a 27-20 score.  Ross Jones had two TFL's and also had a pair of pass deflections.  Basha allowed a touchdown by the Knights in the game's early moments, but then shut the hosts down through the game's first three quarters.  It was the first win by the Bears in the four meetings against Westview.
Next Up:  Basha is at home in Chandler against Pinnacle this Friday.

DEFENSIVE BACK - Dominique Hampton (Centennial)
The 6-2, 185-pound cornerback and Washington commit made two interceptions against Desert Edge and took them each back to the house from 65 and 85 yards.  Hampton alone outscored the Scorpions, who were plundered in a 49-0 defeat in Peoria.  Centennial scored 42 points in the first half and forced a running clock for the entire second half.  Desert Edge is known for its talented offensive line, but the Coyote defenders showed they have learned by practicing against the CeHS offensive unit.
Next Up:  Centennial is on the road at Apollo in Glendale this Friday.

SPECIAL TEAMS - Jake Smith (Notre Dame)
The 6-1, 185-pound junior makes this space on his 88-yard kickoff return against Shadow Ridge.  Smith went diagonally across the field outrunning Stallion defenders at midfield before making his way to the left sideline and breaking away from the chasing pack.  It was one of three touchdowns for him on the night (one rushing and one receiving).  Notre Dame broke open a contest that was 10-3 at the half for a 40-10 victory.  It was the first game for new Saints' head coach George Prelock.
Next Up:  Notre Dame is at home in Scottsdale against Desert Edge this Friday.

TEAM - Desert Mountain
The Wolves trailed 20-0 at the half and 27-7 after three quarters against its fellow Scottsdale District school.  Down 27-22, the defense forced a punt and Desert Mountain took over at its own 20.  Junior QB Kedon Slovis led the Wolves down the field in the final minute.  Chaparral intercepted a pass and ran it back 105 yards for a pick-six as time ran out. . . BUT there was a flag on the play for roughing the passer.  That gave DMHS an untimed down at the Firebirds' 15-yard line.  Slovis connected with Max Walker in the end zone to complete the comeback.  Slovis passed for 289 yards and had three TDs in his first varsity start.  Nick Hill paced the Wolves with a rushing touchdown and 109 receiving yards. 
Next Up:  Desert Mountain is at home in Scottsdale against Mesa this Friday.


PHOTO CAPTION:  Hamilton running back Jawhar Jordan gets some running room in a game from last season.  Friday, he kicked off his senior campaign with the Huskies in a big way with five of the team's six touchdowns in a 42-28 victory over Boulder Creek.  He committed to Syracuse over the summer and is rated the #49 running back in the country by 247Sports' composite ratings.  The Huskies play their first home game this week against Queen Creek (also 1-0).

 

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