New state rushing record & major upsets in prep football

The raw excitement that is generated by high school football was spread across the state last night.   A heart-stopping upset of a ranked team in the final minute of the game out west in Glendale…an emotional win up north in Flagstaff that was a long time in coming…an offensive display that set a state record out in Mesa.

Something for everyone in Week 9.

Let’s start with the upset victory by Ironwood High School (8-1) over Deer Valley High School (7-2), which was undefeated and ranked No. 2 in Division II going into the contest.

Not only was it a one-point victory that wasn’t finalized until the final six seconds of the game, but it was one of the most explosive offensive performances this season.  Matt Paparella took the ball the final 16 yards of an Ironwood drive to score the winning TD for a 69-68 victory.

The crowd had just recovered from a Deer Valley interception that gave them the lead with three minutes left in the game.  Chris Landrum made the pick and returned it 59 yards for the score.

Do the math.  That’s 137 combined points, generated by 19 touchdowns.  And well over 1,000 yards of total offense.

Could it have been any sweeter for Ironwood?  Actually, yeah.  It was Homecoming.

Meanwhile… up north.  Emotions poured over after Flagstaff High School won just its second game in two years by upsetting Coconino High in a squeaker, 15-14.

The excitement in the Skydome hit a fever pitch when Flag’s running back, Cody Philpott, ran the ball in from the two with just 11 clicks left on the clock.  And then they went wild when head coach, Ed Campos, went for the two-point conversion that would win the game, instead of settling for the tie.  Dillon Gifford pushed it in for the win.

That decision was a bold move by a coach trying to spark a turn-around of a moribund program that has been on the wrong end of many a blow-out over recent memory.

Coconino was pretty solid, lead by running back Luke Daulton who had 195 yards rushing.  But credit the Flagstaff defense, which created six turnovers: four fumbles and a couple of interceptions.

And down the hill, on the Valley’s east side, it was a high-octane show going on for the fans in Mesa.

The center of the storm was Joey Counts, the running back who led Desert Ridge High School to a 63-14 romp over visiting North Canyon High School – and set a state big-school record in the process.

Counts piled up 403 yards rushing before Desert Ridge coach, Jeremy Hathcock, assigned him, and the rest of the starting unit, to watching from the sidelines just after the second half started.  Counts, who was up to 317 yards by halftime, took his seat after leading the Jaguars on an 83-yard touchdown drive.

The previous state record for single-game rushing yards was 380, set three years ago.

The fumble recovery by Desert Ridge linebacker Nathaniel Rodriguez, which he returned 80 yards for a score just before the half ended, was just icing on the cake, as the Jaguars ran up a 56-0 lead at the half.

Hathcock and his staff installed a new offensive formation prior to the game, which accounted for a good share of the yardage gained last night.

It’s a good guess that Boulder Creek High School will see a lot of it next week when the two teams meet in Mesa.