By Joshua Iversen
Scottsdale Notre Dame Prep scored early and never looked back to kick off their season with a 28-10 win over Brophy Prep. This was the first football game the schools have ever played against each other, and it set the tone for what should be a competitive rivalry for years to come.
The Saints, led by senior quarterback Tyler Schweigert, scored a touchdown in each quarter while their strong defense held the Broncos at bay.
Brophy star quarterback E.J. Warner, son of Hall of Fame quarterback Kurt Warner, left the game near the end of the first quarter with an apparent right leg injury. The junior did not return to the game. He was replaced by junior Landon Wagner, who scored the Broncos’ only touchdown on a four-yard pass to senior Cole Orkild late in the fourth quarter.
Junior Gavin Smith was the star of the night for the Saints, as the wide receiver/defensive back tallied two interceptions on defense and two touchdowns on offense. Schweigert, who threw for four touchdowns, targeted Smith and senior wide receiver Damien Owens all night with much success.
Linebacker James Jaquint and defensive lineman Brady Blessing were a force on defense. The seniors kept Brophy out of the end zone all night, including a first-quarter sack by Blessing and two fourth-quarter red zone stops by Jaquint. The pair also teamed up for a big third-down tackle to stop a Brophy push in the third quarter.
Highlight of the game
A fourth-down bobble by the Broncos had the Saints threatening again, already leading 6-0 early in the second quarter. Schweigert found Smith for a short pass and Smith booked it down the sideline for a 46-yard touchdown, doubling their lead.
But Smith wasn’t done. Just a few plays later, this time on defense, he leapt high in the air to pick off an errant pass from Wagner and return it to the Brophy 36-yard line.
Then, late in the third quarter, Smith did it all over again. With Notre Dame leading 12-0, he intercepted another pass by Wagner, this time taking it out of bounds at Brophy’s 9-yard line. A few plays later, Schweigert found him in the end zone for a 4-yard touchdown pass.
Quote of the game
Notre Dame head coach George Prelock on the all-around team win: “To have everyone contribute just shows that it’s a complete team effort. That’s what this game is about. After what everyone’s been through and everything like that, a lot of guys are just about winning and doing what’s right for one another and playing as a team, being a family.”
The Brophy Prep Broncos are home next week, taking on the Saguaro Sabercats at 7 p.m. The Notre Dame Prep Saints stay home, hosting the Valley Vista Monsoon, also at 7 p.m.
Higley holds on for victory over Mountain Pointe
By Brad Falduto
After riding the arm of Kai Millner, Gilbert Higley needed a defensive stand to hold off host Phoenix Mountain Pointe, 26-18, in both teams’ non-region season opener Friday night.
After stalling on a drive, Higley punted and Mountain Pointe took over at its own 18-yard line with 1:33 left. The Pride drove into Higley territory before the Knights’ defense stiffened, taking over on downs with 38 seconds remaining.
Higley did lead 18-6 before the Pride came back to tie the game. Higley went back on top for good late in the third quarter on a 3-yard run by Sutter.
Millner completed 15 of 28 passes for 123 yards and a touchdown. He also ran 11 times for 54 yards.
Quarterback Amire Boyd-Matthews of Mountain Pointe completed 8-of-11 passes for 55 yards and a touchdown. He also rushed for 149 yards.
Sutter rushed 11 times for 58 yards and a score.
Highlight of the game
After a bad shotgun snap in the fourth quarter, Boyd-Matthews scooped up the ball and scampered 68 yards before being caught at the 4-yard line. A penalty pushed Mountain Pointe back and they ended up failing to score on the drive.
Quote of the game
With the season delayed by Covid-19, Higley coach Eddy Zubey expected a tight game with plenty of mistakes: “It was gritty,” Zubey said. “It was a battle. It went back and forth. It was important for many reasons but just to get momentum on (the season) is big.”
Higley will travel to Queen Creek Casteel and Mountain Pointe will play host to Peoria Centennial Friday night at 7.
Sunrise Mountain forces six turnovers in win
By Howard Schlossberg
Stephen Hoffman might have said it best in describing just how good he and his Sunrise Mountain teammates might be this year.
“Dangerous,” he said succinctly, after Friday night’s impressive 48-7 win at Cactus to open the season.
The Class 5A Mustangs forced six turnovers to turn away several challenges from host Cactus out of the 4A ranks. They included Hoffman’s two interceptions, including a game-breaking 85-yard return for a score.
Defensive teammates Andre Ocada and nicked-up Trevor Vesely joined him in harassing slippery Cactus quarterback Will Galvan.
On the other side of the ball, Trevor Ward threw 3 touchdown passes and ran for one more in efficiently running an offense that looked in midseason form for Sunrise Mountain.
Sunrise Mountain made several on on both sides of the ball. Hoffman took thwarted a 10-play, 60-yard drive by Cactus with his on-the-fly pick and sprint for a touchdown to make it 14-0 when it looked like Galvan was about to tie it up.
Ward and Tommy Arnold took it from there, moving the ball almost at will against a game but outmanned and smaller defense. Ward directed three TD drives in the first half, two of which were finished off by Arnold and the other on Ward’s 30-yard dart to speedy Ezekiel Marshall.
Arnold and Marshall took turns scoring in the second half as Sunrise Mountain built the final score.
Hard to argue with Arnold’s impressive 16 carries for 86 yards and two TDs, while Ward hit on 7 of 14 for 146 and three scores, the pair to Marshall and one to Chase Birdsong.
The defense took turns piling up turnovers and delivering field position to Ward and Co. Hoffman had his pair of interceptions, and Elijah Anderson and Micah Scott added another pick each.
Beyond ‘dangerous,’ Hoffman called the Mustangs’ effort a tribute to study, focus and belief.
Coach Steve Decker cited the defensive effort.
“We have 4 stars in the secondary,” he said in commenting on Hoffman’s big night. “The defense set the pace for sure.”
Cactus Coach Joseph Ortiz said he knows he has a talented team and he looks forward to squaring off against 4A competition, where Galvan’s ability to click to Justin Gomez and Antonio Pratt will make an even bigger impact.
“We had chances early,” he said. “We have to play with discipline. Sunrise Mountain is a really good team.”
Cactus is home to archrival Peoria while Sunrise Mountain host Mesquite.
McClintock rolls over rival Tempe
By Koki Riley
In their season opener against their crosstown rivals, Tempe McClintock took care of business on Friday night in a 36-6 victory over Tempe.
After a scoreless opening quarter, McClintock jumped out to a 7-0 lead early in the second and never looked back.
Three second quarter touchdowns, including a back-breaking score with 31 seconds remaining in the first half, put McClintock in the driver’s seat heading into the break.
A safety and another touchdown in the third quarter put the game to bed, as the Chargers also forced two fumbles and an interception on defense.
McClintock senior wideout Ben Roberts led the way for the Chargers with three touchdowns, two through the air and one on the ground.
Senior Jaden Mason’s big night on the ground, which included a 41-yard touchdown run, capped off an eventful offensive night for the Chargers.
With a steady short-passing game and rushing attack led by Mason, McClintock put the game to bed in the fourth quarter after a 41-yard run from Mason gave McClintock the 35-0 lead.
After the game, McClintock head coach Corbin Smith was happy, but not satisfied following the Chargers win.
“We’ve been waiting for this for a month and a half,” Smith said. “Quite honestly, we were a little sloppy. We have some work, a lot of work to do.”
McClintock’s next game will be at Scottsdale Desert Mountain. Tempe will hit the again next week road again to face San Tan Combs.
Yuma Catholic edges Phoenix Christian on late touchdown
By Anthony Perez
After Phoenix Northwest Christian moved up to the 4A Conference earlier this year, it looked like Yuma Catholic was going to be left without a rival. It didn’t take long for it to find its newest rival, though, as junior Austin Priest caught two crucial touchdown passes to help lead Yuma Catholic (1-0) to a 28-20 road win over Phoenix Christian (0-1) in Week 1 of 4A Conference play Friday night.
Priest picked up his first score off a 12-yard pass from sophomore quarterback Richard Stallworth on Yuma Catholic’s first drive of the game to help tie the it up at 7-all. With the visitors clinging to a one point lead early in the fourth quarter, Stallworth found Priest again, this time for a 24-yard catch, which gave Yuma Catholic a 28-20 advantage, putting the game away for them.
Phoenix Christian senior Howard Russell was responsible for all three of his team’s scores — most notably, a 65-yard punt return just 2:35 into the game that gave his team an early 7-0 lead.
Highlight of the game
Following Russell’s 6-yard touchdown run with 6:01 left in the third quarter, Phoenix Christian’s extra point was blocked. Yuma Christian would score on the ensuing drive, taking a 21-20 lead, a lead they would not relinquish.
Quote of the game
“He came through when it mattered most. We just thought he did a good job defensively and offensively. He didn’t get a whole lot of rest, but he definitely came through with a big boy touchdown there at the end and focused and got it done.” – Yuma Catholic Head Coach Rhett Stallworth on Austin Priest’s performance Friday night.
Yuma Christian will face Tucson Pusch Ridge Christian Academy in their home opener next Friday, while Phoenix Christian will head to Chandler to face Valley Christian next Friday.