Week 8 high school football roundup: Salpointe, Boulder Creek, Corona del Sol finish strong, playoffs await – The Arizona Republic
Here is a roundup of some key games in Arizona high school football Friday, Nov. 20. Story will be updated throughout Friday evening.
The AIA will announce playoff seeding Saturday, check azcental.com for more information:
Salpointe Catholic surges past Desert Mountain
By Lorenzino Estrada
It was a successful road trip for Tucson Salpointe Catholic, defeating Scottsdale Desert Mountain 31-3 to remain unbeaten on the regular season.
The Lancers now wait to find out where they will be placed for the playoffs.
Both teams started the game off slow, with early penalties stalling drives and giving the opposing teams excellent field position. It wasn’t until Tucson quarterback Treyson Bourguet connected with wide receiver Julian Robles on a diving catch to set up a field goal that the scoreless tie was broken.
Scottsdale would answer back with a field goal after keeping its drive alive with a fourth down conversion by wide receiver Morgan Freeburg. But the Wolves’ offense struggled, as quarterback Aiden Cerullo struggled to complete numerous passes.
The Lancers of Tucson would extend its lead following the Wolves’ field goal with a one-play, 60-yard touchdown catch and run from wide receiver Kam Gambrell. Soon later, running back David Cordero got in on the big-play action with a 67-yard touchdown run.
The second half would also prove to be fruitless for the Wolves offense, as Cerullo threw a pick-six to Lancers defensive back Antonio Martinez. Tucson Salpointe Catholic would put the game out of reach by the end of the third quarter with a Bourguet quarterback sneak at the goal line to make it 31-3.
Tucson Salpointe Catholic ends the regular season at 6-0, while Scottsdale Desert Mountain finishes 4-2.
Salpointe’s Julian Robles affected every aspect of the game, with multiple catches on offense, big hits on defense and a few returns to set up the Lancers with excellent field position.
With the game tied at three, Tucson’s Bourguet connected with wide receiver Kam Gambrell for a one-play, 60-yard touchdown catch and run.
Eric Rogers, Tucson Salpointe Catholic head coach: “That’s (Scottsdale Desert Mountain) a phenomenal football team,” Rogers said. “We knew we had to prepare the best we could all season long. I thought the kids had the best week of practice we’ve had all year. We were hoping to come up here and reap the rewards.”
Cisneros leads Boulder Creek over Sunnyslope
By Anthony Perez
If Phoenix Sunnyslope (5-1) had any hopes of beating Anthem Boulder Creek (7-1), they were going to need to contain senior Jacob Cisneros, who came into Week 8 action with 1,042 rushing yards on 127 carries. Unfortunately for Sunnyslope, failed to contain Cisneros who scored three of his team’s five touchdowns en route to a 35-3 Boulder Creek win Friday night in Anthem.
Cisneros started his Week 8 performance with a pop, scoring two of his touchdowns on the ground in the first quarter. His first one came from 16 yards out with 6:19 to play in the period, and his second came from 15 yards out with 2:18 left in the quarter. Cisneros then helped give Boulder Creek a comfortable 28-3 lead when he punched in his third touchdown of the night on the ground in the third quarter.
Sunnyslope’s lone score came off the leg of sophomore kicker Kyle Cunanan, who hit a 33-yard field goal on the last play of the first half.
Leading 21-3 midway through the third quarter, Boulder Creek was driving down the field before a fumble handed the ball and some much needed momentum to Sunnyslope. But the Vikings were unable to score though on their next drive and turned the ball over on downs. On the following Boulder Creek possession, Cisneros picked up his third touchdown of the night – and his 27th of the season – to help give the home squad a very comfortable 28-3 lead.
“It’s a great win for our program, our school and our community. We’re not going to sit here and look at the bracket and where we are and things like that. That’s not what we do. We’re more worried about what we’re doing rather than the brackets and all of that. Tomorrow we’ll watch the show, wherever we land, we’ll land, and whoever we play, we’ll play, but we’re more focused on us and getting better each week.” – Boulder Creek coach Tony Casarella on what’s next for his team.
Corona del Sol shuts down Mountain View
By Brad Falduto
Getting defensive was the key as Tempe Corona del Sol completed an unbeaten regular season Friday night.
Coming up with two big goal-line stances, the Aztecs didn’t give up an offensive score on their way to a 28-7 victory over host Mesa Mountain View in 6A play Friday night. The victory moved the Aztecs to 8-0 while Mountain View lost its second straight to fall to 6-2.
The Aztecs stopped the Toros at the 1-yard line late in the third quarter before intercepting a pass for a score at the 3 in the fourth quarter
Quarterback Quade Swearingen led the Aztecs offensively with rushing scores of 18 and 7 yards, the first coming on a keeper around the left end and the second around the right.
Corona del Sol junior running back Anyale Velazquez rushed 25 times for 82 yards.
Mountain View’s only score came in the second quarter when Matthew Clark picked off a pass at the 50 and returned it for a touchdown.
Highlight of the game
With Mountain View down a touchdown in the fourth quarter and backed up on its own 3-yard line, Tudor Georgescu hit quarterback Zac Majorczak as he threw. The ball fluttered up in the air, Aztecs lineman Elijah Sayers snagged it and fell into the end zone.
Quote of the game
Corona del Sol coach Jason Becktold talked about how the Aztecs’ job is not finished: “There is a lot of fight in our (players). Now we got in the playoffs last year and ran into Red Mountain. They remember that. Players are back and ready.”
Both teams must wait to learn the playoff pairings.
Notre Dame rallies, downs Horizon
By Howard Schlossberg
You could feel Notre Dame’s confidence growing with each possession Friday night at Horizon, with a 5A playoff spot on the line.
After almost getting blown out in the first quarter, the Saints, regrouped and rallied for a 33-24 win that puts them in playoff position.
Fortunate to only be trailing 8-6 at halftime after gaining just 67 yards in total offense, the Saints’ Tyler Schweigert came out in the second half, forgot about his season-long sore hand and threw for 196 yards and a touchdown in the second half.
Trailing 8-0 after the game’s opening possession by Horizon, Notre Dame scored the next 3 TDs, grabbed a 19-8 lead and never looked back, holding off Horizon when the Huskies pulled within 19-16.
So many, but the game pivoted on crucial special-teams errors by the host Huskies, when they fumbled one punt to allow the Saints a short field and a quick TD in the second quarter. Notre Dame then caught a break when Horizon’s punter touched a knee to the ground at his own 13 trying to handle a difficult snap.
One play later, Schweigert hit favorite target Gavin Smith, Notre Dame’s Mr. Do-It-All, for 13 yards and the go-ahead score.
Schweigert, who drew praise from Smith and coach George Prelock, wound up 14 of 24 for 203 and 2 TDs. At one point in the second half, he hit 6 of 7 for 105 yards. His 14 completions included six to Smith for 2 TDs and 67 yards.
Luke Nash did not have a double-digit yardage run but his 48 yards were rough, tumble and critical, as was his late TD. Farrell had 4 catches for 56 yards and a TD.
Horizon’s Skyler Partridge played his heart out, throwing for 86 yards and a score to Avery Lambert, but he was harassed by the Saints pass rush all night.
Horizon’s Omar Muse popped the 63-yarder but was otherwise held in check (16 carries, 114 yards). And Matthew Klopfenstein had 5 catches for 62 yards.
Notre Dame finished the regular season 4-2; Horizon 3-3. The AIA will announce playoff brackets on Saturday.
Russell dominates in Phoenix Christian play-in victory
By Joshua Iversen
In a rematch that looked almost nothing like the original, Phoenix Christian blew out River Valley 56-27 to clinch their spot among the 3A Final Eight.
Last week’s meeting between the two teams was a much tighter affair, with River Valley hanging on for a 35-33 win. But in Friday night’s play-in game, the Dust Devils fell behind early and never had much of a chance to claw their way back.
The one constant between the two games was Cougars running back Howard Russell. The senior was phenomenal last week, rushing for 356 yards on 36 carries, but outdid himself in the rematch, scoring seven of his team’s eight touchdowns.
Initially, it looked like both defenses had learned from last week’s matchup, the game remaining scoreless into the second quarter. But the Cougars broke through first when, on fourth-and-15, senior quarterback Adrian Fleming found Russell right at the goal line for a 30-yard touchdown.
Russell and the Cougars scored twice more in the second quarter to end the half with a 21-0 lead. Phoenix Christian found notable success with their kickoffs as the Dust Devils had difficulty cleanly fielding their squib kicks all night.
River Valley scored twice in the third quarter, but each time they did, Phoenix Christian answered right back. Russell was unstoppable, scoring on a pair of rushing touchdowns in the fourth quarter, each north of 60 yards.
Russell was the standout for the Cougars, but Fleming had a strong game himself, knowing when to hand it to his star running back and when to mix it up. He went to sophomore Angel Gutierrez and senior Zachary Cline a fair amount as well, Gutierrez having a particularly strong first half.
Junior Jose Herrera had a pick-6 on River Valley senior quarterback Amaro Contreras late in the fourth quarter, making him Phoenix Christian’s only scorer outside of Russell. Sophomore Jerahmia Smith had a sack late.
Russell’s Dust Devil counterpart, junior Zach Hammett, had a much quieter night despite scoring three touchdowns. But senior Richard Vega was Contreras’s primary running back, and he was effective, scoring a touchdown of his own. Junior Michael Dulin had a sack and played well on both sides of the ball.
River Valley opened the second half with a quick score to make it a 21-7 game. On the first play of their drive, the Cougars fumbled and the Dust Devils recovered, swinging momentum heavily in their favor.
But that lasted all of one play. On the first play of River Valley’s own drive, Contreras was sacked and lost the ball. It was recovered by the Cougars, who ended up gaining a few yards on the exchange.
Then, Russell really took over. He was given the ball on every play of the drive but one and stormed across the field, culminating in what was then his fourth touchdown of the game.
Russell, on his performance: “Honestly, it feels pretty good. I feel like I got my message across. [Hammett] was kind of out there tweeting, saying he was the best running back in the state and in 3A especially, and I just felt like I had something to prove. I came into these past few days with a little bit of a grudge. So it feels pretty good.”
Casteel clinches playoff with win over Red Mountain
By Ben Stapley
Casteel clinched a playoff spot and a region title with a come-from-behind, 20-19 win over host Red Mountain Friday night in a 6A regular season finale.
13th seeded Casteel (5-3, 3-1) captured the Fiesta region title and will head into the state playoffs in its first year of 6A competition. Red Mountain (3-4, 1-2) which lost in overtime in last year’s 6A state championship game, will miss out on the post season.
Down 19-7 at halftime and late in the 3rd quarter, Casteel senior quarterback Dane Christensen engineered two scoring drives that included touchdown passes of 12 and 15 yards. Christensen finished with 102 yards passing and 3 touchdowns to lead the Colts into the playoffs.
“It’s the greatest feeling in the world, Christensen said afterward. “We like to put ourselves in a hole early, but we came back and got the win and now we’re region champs and going to the playoffs.”
Red Mountain built its 19-7 lead behind Senior quarterback Evan Svoboda, who threw a 7-yard TD pass and rushed for another. Sophomore receiver Ja’Kobi Lane hauled in an 11 yard touchdown reception for Red Mountain just before halftime, as Casteel trailed by 12.
Casteel senior Jayce Knutsen finished with seven receptions and caught two of Christensen’s three touchdown passes.
Highlight of the game
Trailing 19-13 midway through the 4th quarter, Casteel face a 4th down and goal from the seven yard line. Christensen rolled right and threw a perfect strike to Isiah Newcombe in the corner of the end zone.
Both teams combined for 5 turnovers in the 3rd quarter. Three of of Casteel’s five wins have come by one point.
“Red Mountain’s a great football team, and they had control most of the game. But our guys never quit, and that’s been our motto all year.” — Casteel quarterback Dane Christensen
Casteel entered the game as the 13th seed and will likely play a road game in the 1st round of the 6A playoffs. Brackets will be released Saturday. Red Mountain finished the season 3-5.
Highland defeats Higley behind 2nd-half surge
By Damian Adams
The Highland Hawks wasted little time scoring quickly in its game at Higley Friday night, but the Knights responded right away to set the tone for what appeared to be a tight game ahead.
In the end, Highland managed to pull away, winning 33-22.
After Higley’s first score, Highland continued marching down the field with no issue for another touchdown. The Hawks only had one trip up offensively, a turnover that led to a Higley defensive touchdown.
This did not stop the Hawks’ offensive momentum, as they ended the first half with another touchdown drive and led 19-15 at halftime.
The Hawks scored two more touchdowns after halftime.
Highland’s running back Max Davis scored four touchdowns, including a 64-yard touchdown run at the end the third quarter, that put the game out of reach.
Highland prepares for the playoffs. Brackets announced Saturday.