Overcoming adversity is a common thread in prep football

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                </div>The roller-coaster ride of emotions that has come to symbolize the waning weeks of the high school football season in Arizona continued in Week 9 as the Corona del Sol […]<!-- AddThis Sharing Buttons below -->
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The roller-coaster ride of emotions that has come to symbolize the waning weeks of the high school football season in Arizona continued in Week 9 as the Corona del Sol Aztecs pulled off a huge upset over Desert Vista High School exactly one month after the Corona administration stunned players and parents by firing its head coach in the middle of the season.

After Tom Joseph was dismissed following an 0-4 start to the schedule, Corona lost its next two games by a combined score of 65-6 under interim head coach Tim Kelly.  A win over Dobson High in the third game brought a lift to the team’s spirits, but Dobson, which is 2-7 right now, wasn’t the kind of quality opponent needed to salvage what was left of the season.

But last night’s 41-28 win over Desert Vista was a huge affirmation for a group of players that didn’t give up and continued to work hard after their world was turned upside down.  The Thunder were ranked No. 13 in the Division I power rankings and needed the win to keep their playoff hopes alive.

And it’s just the latest in a weekly roll-out of feel-good stories that have showcased the positive side of prep sports.

In Week 8… South Mountain High School ended  a reign of frustration that had lasted three years by breaking a 30-game losing streak with a 26-13 victory over Apache Junction High School.

A once-proud program got just a tiny taste of what it had been like when it played for the 5A state title in 1993 and then re-surged again with a 10-3 season in 2007 followed by an 8-3 campaign.  But since then, the Jaguars have struggled to field good teams after their talent pool began to thin following family migrations to other parts of the Valley and a decline in the economic base followed.

Unfortunately, things have returned to what has become normalcy with a 49-3 loss last night against McClintock High.  It was a huge fall from the cloud they were riding on – and, to make matters worse, it was on senior night.  But that one win over Apache Junction will be a great memory, and a source of pride  the players will carry with them long after high school.

In Week 7… Florence High School was faced with playing a game just days after the sudden death of its head coach, 38-year-old Steve McKane.  McKane’s father, Bill, who had been serving on his son’s coaching staff, took over as interim coach and fought through the shock of losing his son to lead the Gophers to an emotion-charged 26-23 win in overtime against Combs High School.

Florence entered the game at 3-3 and ranked No. 4 in Section 4 of Division IV.  The win over Combs, the No. 3 team in that section, kept their playoff hopes alive.

And to make the game all the more surreal, it was Homecoming night for Florence.

So Corona del Sol (2-7, 2-2) becomes this week’s feel-good story, thanks to a powerful ground game and a stingy defense that held Desert Vista (4-5, 1-2) to just 22 yards rushing.  The Aztecs capitalized on an interception and fumbled kickoff in the opening minutes of the game to run up a 27-7 lead at the half, and kept the pedal to the metal the rest of the way.

And maybe this victory will be an opportunity for yet another feel-good moment, as the school takes up the task of making a permanent head-coach hire at the end of the season.

Kelly, who has been coaching in the program for two decades, has been passed over more than once for the head-coaching job.  Maybe he’s finally proved he can handle the job.