Joseph Ortiz has learned patience throughout his coaching career, knowing the right time and place would occur to be a head football coach if he just waited.

Ortiz had big shoes to fill at Glendale Cactus, taking over for Larry Fetkenhier, who is tied for second in Arizona for all-time high school football coaching wins.

Ortiz then had to wait another day to start his head coaching career, after lightning and rain sent his Cactus team back home last Friday night from Tucson Catalina Foothills.

Cactus got back home at around 11 p.m. The players and coaches returned to Tucson the next day for a 4 p.m., game. The ride home this time was more enjoyable after leaving Catalina Foothills with a 36-12 win.

“It was fun,” Ortiz said. “I told them, we’re playing on Saturday just like colleges.”

Ortiz said it helped his team to have already been to Catalina Foothills the previous night, going through pregame before the persistent lightning never let the game start.

“They were mad,” Ortiz said. “They wanted to play. I told them, ‘You have to fight through adversity.’ At the end of the day, it was a benefit for us. We got to do pregame there. We got used to the locker room. We used it as an advantage.”

Catalina Foothills coach Jeff Scurran, who is leading one of the youngest teams he has ever coached, said he was impressed by Cactus’ perseverance.

“It was their opening game and they were hungry,” Scurran said. “After our first upset win (over Sierra Vista Buena in Week 1), I think our youngsters were complacent. We had trouble just lining up correctly.

MORE: Arizona high school football schedule, picks for Week 3

Short order

Tucson schools Sunnyside and Desert View are only getting four days rest between Week 2 and Week 3 games. After Sunnyside beat Desert View 20-13 on Monday night, both are back in action on Friday with Sunnyside traveling to play Tucson Rincon and Desert View on the road to play Nogales. The monsoon storm that swept through Tucson on Friday night caused the Sunnyside-Desert View game to be delayed three days.


Katherine Fitzgerald and Richard Obert preview the best Arizona high school football action for Week 3.
Diana Payan, The Republic |

Rattler status

Phoenix Pinnacle senior quarterback Spencer Rattler said he expects to be back next week after rolling his ankle late in the first quarter of last week’s win over Phoenix Mountain Pointe. He said he will not be playing Friday against rival Scottsdale Horizon.

RELATED: With Spencer Rattler injured, No. 1 Pinnacle to rout of Mountain Pointe

Fire delay

Salome’s 1A football game with Fort Thomas on Friday night was halted with nine minutes left in the third quarter because of a lightning strike to a power line that caused a fire to an electrical box connected to the Salome stadium lights. Salome had just taken a 30-26 lead before the lights went out. That game will be completed at Chandler Prep in mid-October. That could have big playoff implications. Both schools are ranked among the top 10 by azcentral sports in 8-man football.

On the road

Five-time defending state champion Scottsdale Saguaro (1-1), coming off a loss to Henderson (Nev.) Liberty, is playing Saturday in La Mesa against Helix (1-1). Saguaro hasn’t lost to an Arizona opponent since Sept. 4, 2015, when it lost to Phoenix Pinnacle 20-12. The Sabercats are 2-3 against out-of-state competition since 2016, but 35-0 against in-state competition since the Pinnacle loss.

Weekly honors

The Week 2 Arizona Cardinals Coach of the Week honors went to Phoenix Arcadia coach Kerry Taylor, and Scottsdale Notre Dame Prep running back/receiver Jake Smith was named Arizona Cardinals Player of the Week.

Despite bus troubles on the way to Deer Valley, Taylor’s Titans improved to 2-0 with a 40-21 win. Arcadia has outscored its first two opponents 89-21 after getting outscored  472-29 during an 0-10 season in 2017. Taylor, a former Chandler Hamilton High, Arizona State and Cardinals wide receiver first year as head coach of the Titans.

Smith, who is committed to playing football at Texas next season, ran for 237 yards and two touchdowns, caught eight passes for 117 yards and three scores and returned a kickoff 79 yards for a touchdown. He had 480 all-purpose yards.

Editor’s note: Richard Obert is a voter for this weekly award.


To suggest human-interest story ideas and other news, reach Obert at [email protected] or 602-316-8827. Follow him at