National notoriety, program bounce-backs, young guns, great revelations, gritty performances. A look at Week 3:
Peoria Centennial’s 13-7 win over Las Vegas Bishop Gorman should at least stir the national publications some to let them know the 2-0 Coyotes belong among the top teams in the country. Before the game, MaxPreps, through its algorithms, had Centennial ranked No. 440 in the nation, and it had Bishop Gorman, in its writers’ poll, ranked No. 25 nationally. “We think we can be a little higher,” said linebacker Dylan Wampler, who had an interception at the goal line in the final quarter to snuff out one of many Bishop Gorman scoring threats. “If that’s how they rank us, that’s how they rank us. We just have to do what we do and play our game.” Centennial is in 5A, the second-highest conference in Arizona. But over the last three years, Centennial has proven it can beat anybody in Arizona, no matter the conference.
Oro Valley Canyon del Oro is Ka’Deem Carey’s old stomping grounds. And he used to stomp on opposing defenses regularly in his days as the best running back in Arizona, before he became a college All-American at the University of Arizona. But sophomore Stevie Rocker did something Carey never did in his CdO career – he set a school record with a 99-yard touchdown run in a 55-26 win over Apache Junction. He also had a 66-yard scoring catch. He ran for 225 yards and three TDs on 16 carries in his coming out moment as one of the state’s top running backs. “Stevie is a dynamic player that is seriously improving at each touch he gets, so it is going to be scary how good this young man can be,” coach Dusty Peace said. “But more than anything, he is a great teammate and young man to coach.”
The best plays and moments from Week 3 of 2018 Arizona high school football.
Is Spencer Rattler going to have to earn his starting quarterback spot back at Phoenix Pinnacle? Joking. After rolling his ankle late in the first quarter of the Phoenix Mountain Pointe Week 2 win, Rattler will be back next week for a road trip against JSerra Catholic in California to lead the Pioneers’ high-powered offense. But what a job junior quarterback J.D. Johnson did in Rattler’s absence. Johnson passed for 401 yards and four touchdowns in a 49-35 win that kept Scottsdale Horizon winless against Pinnacle in the football series. Subbing for Rattler in the 56-34 win over Mountain Pointe, Johnson posted a 162.4 passer rating, which was higher than any one game Rattler or alum and current Michigan State QB Brian Lewerke ever had at Pinnacle.
Phoenix Brophy Prep sophomore quarterback Jalen Kitna started his varsity career in a 7-0 loss to Peoria Liberty with an 18.2 passer rating, completing 11 of 23 passes for 46 yards and two interceptions. He got better in his second game, completing 13 of 24 for 149 yards, two TDs and no interceptions in a 38-7 win over Surprise Valley Vista. On Friday, he really took off. In three quarters of a 63-17 rout of Tolleson, Kitna completed 13 of 17 for 220 yards and four TDs with one interception. He also ran for a TD. His TD passes were from 8, 7, 61 and 40 yards out. It can be tough playing for his dad, Jon Kitna, a former longtime NFL quarterback, who says Jalen’s even-keeled temperament helps him. Brophy began the season with a new offense, new coaches, nobody who played significant minutes on offense. “He really gets it,” Jon said of his son. “He is one of 11. He takes coaching really well.”
Casa Grande is 3-0, behind a 15-year-old freshman quarterback, Angel Flores, who has run for five touchdowns and passed for two. Flores, 6-foot-1, 215 pounds, who is from Texas, would play defense if coach Jake Barro would let him. “His leadership skills are unlike any freshman I have coached,” Barro said. “He has the demeanor and poise of a three-year starter. Our senior players have really bought into his leadership. He’s an all-around great kid. He’s all about the team.”
Douglas, Tombstone and Phoenix Arcadia are a combined 8-0 after going a combined 0-30 in 2017. Arcadia’s rise is well-documented with first-year coach Kerry Taylor quickly changing the culture with willing players who weren’t happy about scoring just 29 points all of last season. Arcadia (3-0) has 129 points and the season is just a third of the way through. Tombstone has already scored 82 points in its 2-0 start after scoring a total of 107 last year. Douglas (3-0) ran for 428 yards in a 42-26 win over 5A Tucson Empire. Douglas’ 3-0 start is the best in more than 30 years. Douglas also leads 4A in points scored with 151. Douglas had 156 points in 10 games last year when James Fitzgerald was in his first year leading the program.
Taking a hit
Mesa, off to an 0-3 start, lost starting QB Blake Roebuck midweek when he withdrew from school and transferred to Mesa Skyline, where he will sit out the rest of this season. Coach Kapi Sikahema turned to sophomore Gabby Mendoza to make his varsity debut against two-time defending 6A champion Chandler. Mesa lost 62-0, but Sikahema is going to keep everybody’s heads up. “I wish (Roebuck) well,” Sikahema said before the game. “When I said to the team in the classroom, ‘Gabby, you’ve got the reins,’ our whole team gave him a standing ovation. Our heads are held high. I’m excited. We have self-respect. When we get all of our kids, we’ll do some smashing.”
Under the radar
Junior running back Marc Jacobs is buried in Centennial’s deep running back depth chart. But when coach Richard Taylor needs some clutch runs late in games, Jacobs delivers. In Centennial’s game-clinching drive against Bishop Gorman, Jacobs had an 11-yard run, followed by a four-yard gain. He added a seven-yard gain, before Tawee Walker broke free from 9 yards out to give the Coyotes a 13-0 lead with 1:36 left. After Walker, the Coyotes like to run Jeiel Stark and Jaydin Young. But Walker and Young are valuable parts of the secondary on defense, so, when the game is getting late, and Taylor needs an extra boost in the offense, Jacobs comes through. He gave Centennial some late punch in Week 1 against Queen Creek Casteel.
Around the state
Goodyear Desert Edge gave Tucson Salpointe Catholic a tough go, before the Lancers clinched a 28-21 win with Mario Padilla’s two interceptions in the last two minutes. Lathan Ransom also had two interceptions for the Lancers, who only had half a game (the Dobson rout last week was called at halftime because of lightning), while Desert Edge came in 2-0 with eight full quarters of action. But the Scorpions were without injured running back Milton Rodgers, who makes a big difference.
Phoenix Greenway is great at starting out great. Now 2-0, the Demons were led by Tyler Duncan, who was 17 of 22 for 281 yards and six TDs in a 54-6 win over Phoenix Sierra Linda. Last year, he threw for 2,327 yards and 29 TDs
Gilbert Higley senior QB Spencer Brasch, a Cal commit, is averaging more than 300 yards passing in a 3-0 start. He had 324 yards and five TDs passing and ran for 101 yards and a TD in a 36-14 win over Marana Mountain View.
Phoenix Christian LB Chris Aguilar has returned three interceptions for TDs in his 2A team’s 3-0 start. He had two in the first quarter of a 56-7 rout of American Leadership-Ironwood.
Scottsdale Chaparral junior WR Tommy Christakos had two TD catches in a rout of Avonodale La Joya, but he set a school record with his leg – kicking a 53-yard field goal, longest in school history.
Glendale Cactus is now 2-0 in the Joseph Ortiz coaching era after beating Glendale Ironwood 43-14, as QB Conner Cordts was 12 of 21 for 240 yards and four TDs.
Gilbert Campo Verde remained undefeated, behind senior Matt Leazier, who had 19 carries for 209 yards and two TDs in a 44-7 win over Glendale Raymond S Kellis. Leazier has 560 rushing yards in three games.
Rascheed Sterling has helped Phoenix Barry Goldwater get off to a 2-0 start with 174 yards and four TDs in a 52-0 rout of Phoenix Central. Goldwater had 474 rushing yards in the game. Sophomore Earnest Greenwood, who is 5-6, 145, ran for 114 yards and two TDs on just three carries.
Eagar Round Valley blocked a point-after kick to hold off Eloy Santa Cruz 20-19 in a 2A game. After Round Valley scored the go-ahead touchdown with four minutes left, Santa Cruz returned the kickoff for a touchdown, but the extra point was blocked.
Thatcher, the No. 1 team in 2A, beat a traditional 3A power for the second week in a row, this time dominating Show Low 60-6, as Quinten Turley ran for 187 yards and two TDs. Tight end/defensive end Cole Motes returned an interception for a score and batted three passes down. Last week, Thatcher had little trouble beating 2016 3A champion ALA-Queen Creek 30-10.
Week 4 Game of the Week
Peoria Liberty (3-0), riding an emotional 49-43 win over rival Peoria Sunrise Mountain, travels to play Mesa Desert Ridge (2-1), which became the King of Crismon Road again with a 17-14 win over Mesa Skyline. It was the renewal of a rivalry that was dormant since 2014. Liberty is playing this season for senior offensive lineman Zack Hunzinger, who is battling bone cancer. Desert Ridge lost numerous players who transferred out. But the Jaguars are holding up so far, playing arguably the most difficult schedule in 6A.
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