The 27-13 upset pulled off by Casa Grande Union High School in Friday night’s 4A football match-up with previously undefeated Marcos de Niza High, is an unexpected setback for the Tempe school.
But it could prove to be an even bigger setback for the Padres’new head coach, Paul Moro.
A win against Casa Grande, which was a .500 program coming into the game, would have given the coaching legend 331 career wins to tie Vern Friedli‘s state record and move one victory closer to becoming the all-time winningest prep football coach in the state.
Moro won 13 state championships at Blue Ridge High School, a small school in the White Mountains community of Lakeside, and compiled an incredible 319-52 record in his 30 years directing that program. The Yellow Jackets ruled small-school football during his three decades there, making it to 16 state championship games and winning 13 of those.
The small community was stunned when he unexpectedly resigned his position at Blue Ridge after the 2013 season to take over the head-coaching job at Poston Butte High School in Florence.
In his first year at Poston Butte, he picked up seven more wins, but his 2015 team was plagued with injuries and a very challenging schedule that was too much for a squad of largely inexperienced players. The result: an 0-10 finish.
Moro moved to Marcos de Niza after that disastrous season and began winning again, starting this season 4-0 before falling to Casa Grande.
The Cougars held the No. 2-ranked Marcos, which had been averaging almost 44 points a game, to two scores. The CG defense allowed just 84 yards rushing and pulled down three interceptions.
The Padres’ offense couldn’t seem to get on track, and their defense didn’t have an answer for CG quarterback Brock Hall, who threw for 191 yards and four touchdowns. Nazareth Greer, Marcos’ senior quarterback, responded with 268 yards of his own on 17-for-35 passing.
Hall, also a senior, tossed two TD passes to his junior wide receiver Cameron Gardner in the first half to take a 12-6 lead at intermission, and then hit senior wide receiver Trevor Russell twice for two more scores in the second half. Russell led all receivers in the game with 139 yards on seven receptions.
Marcos’ two touchdowns came on a four-yard run by Zyare Moss late in the first half and a nine-yard pass from Greer to Jesse Guzman with four minutes left to play in the game.
The game against Casa Grande may turn out to be Moro’s best chance of at least tying that state record this season. The final five opponents on the Marcos de Niza schedule have a combined record of 21-7. All but one have won four games apiece.
And that daunting task begins Thursday when the Padres will take on No. 1-ranked Saguaro High in a game to be televised as the Cox 7 Game of the Week. The Scottsdale school is undefeated after six games and averaging 420 yards and almost 40 points a game.
As if all this weren’t enough, there was one other reason the loss to Casa Grande really hurt.
That was the Padres’ Homecoming game for this season.