Williams Field provides excitement in a week that needs it

        This was not one of the nail-biting, upset-filled weeks of Arizona
high school football that we’ve come to expect this season.  Four of
the top-ranked five teams in 5A-I didn’t even play, and No. 1 Hamilton
HS had no trouble running its unbeaten record to 7-0 with a 45-2 win
over Salpointe Catholic HS.  Meanwhile, the top teams in 5A-II rolled
through Friday’s games with three shutouts and combined 208-26 scoring.
The one game that would be considered an upset was Williams Field HS
ending the 28-game winning streak of No.1-ranked Notre Dame Prep in
4A-II. The 32-30 game had lots of offense, come-from-behind drama, and
the feel-good storyline of a new school stepping up to take down the
big dog on the block. 
    An interception by Eric Rendon
that he returned 70 yards for a score just before halftime lit the fire
under Williams Field.  But the drama wasn’t over, as Saints QB Will King hit Skyler McCurdy
for a 35-yard score just six seconds before the half expired to put
Notre Dame up 21-12.  In the second half, a 71-yard touchdown score
from QB Tom Ross to Brandon Warren, and another TD by Alex Howard,
who punched it in from the one, was enough to give the Blackhawks their
seventh win in as many games. King racked up 282 yards on the night,
but it was his two interceptions that made the difference.
other round of excitement and ‘upset’ of note was in 2A, where No. 2 
Northwest Christian HS slipped past No. 1 Valley Christian on a late
score and now stands at the top of the Central Region standings. 
Credit Northwest’s QB Nathan LaBarbera, who scored five touchdowns, four on rushing yards.  Running back Casey Jahn accounted for the other Crusade score, finishing the evening with 154 yards.
    In stadiums elsewhere, a few nagging questions were answered in games that were not as high-profile…
    If there was any question about how Saguaro HS would respond after having their 37-game winning streak broken last week by Canyon del Oro (Tucson) in a devastating 44-0 loss, it’s no longer a question as the  Sabercats piled up 61 points at the expense of Moon Valley HS.  Austin Armstrong got things rolling early with an interception that he returned 30 yards for the first score of the game.  After that, everyone seemed to get their hand in the scoring effort: a 2-yard run by Danny Cork, Teddy Ruben with two scores from inside the 10 and another from 42 yards out, Bobby McGinty punching it over twice on goal-line opportunities, from the one-yard line and the two-yard stripe, D.J. Foster with two short-yardage scores, and an 86-yard score off an interception by Chase Cromwell.
    Another question that looms each week is when Paradise Valley, top-ranked at the start of the season, would end its 3-game losing skid, which began when running back Jake Brown went down with an ankle injury.  The answer: this week.  The Trojans beat Greenway HS, but had to score 42 points to do it; the 42-37 outcome gives PV a good shot at getting back to the top of the Black Canyon region. 
   The return of Brown this week had something to do with the Trojans’ revived offense, but it was Tyree Parker that did the most damage against the Demons.  Parker ran for 233 yards and four touchdowns, while Brown contributed another TD and 169 yards on the ground.  Greenway tried to counter with the running of Marshall Galbraith, who scored three times in the losing effort.
    Cactus Shadows HS, ranked No. 2 in 4A-I, was challenged by No. 5 Apache Junction HS, which almost pulled off a come-from-behind effort before losing 35-28.  Cactus Shadows looked like a top-ranked team in the first half, as QB Dillon Classen threw four touchdown passes, racking up three of them on consecutive drives.  But it was Tommy Murphy and Zach Sexton that put the game away late, Murphy setting up the Sexton two-yard dive by pulling in a 36-yard pass from Classen.
    There were some great individual efforts spread around this week… Mike Benjamin powered Basha to its win over Highland HS with 283 yards rushing… Mountain View HS rode the arm of Brad Heap to a 28-0 shutout of Mesquite HS as Heap went 15-of-18 for 173 yards and two TDs… Stephen Solomon scored five times in a Joseph City HS win over Fredonia HS… Ben Grams ran for 196 on just 8 carries, for better than 24 yards per attempt to carry Arizona Lutheran HS to a 62-8 win over Bourgade HS… Jenson Cruse scored twice while rushing for 235 yards to power Scottsdale Christian’s 38-6 rout of Camp Verde… Devontae Kellybrew, Mesa HS fullback, who scored once and racked up 143 yards on 15 carries…Jake Hirschi, who scored three early touchdowns to help Arcadia HS to its fourth win of the season, over Maricopa…  R.J. McGill‘s two touchdowns in the fourth quarter for St. Mary’s to give the Knights a come-from-behind win; McGill had three TDs on the night and 143 yards rushing… Brian Scates was a workhorse for Prescott HS, carrying 24 times for 170 yards and one of three touchdowns his team tallied in the third quarter enrute to a 27-0 win over Sunnyslope HS… Josh Ganados went up and down the field, accumulating 339 yards in a 9-for-14 performance, while scoring five touchdowns as Thunderbird HS rolled over Cortez, 48-6… and kudos to the Desert Vista special team units that blocked three kicks in a losing effort to Mesa HS.