Blogs / Features
Don KetchumStaff Writer, AIA365.com firstname.lastname@example.org
Joy for Desert Mtn., pain for Chaparral on last playSep 14, 2012
By Don Ketchum
How much pain can a football team endure?
Scottsdale Chaparral’s Firebirds would prefer not to have to answer that question.
They had their guts ripped out for the third time in four games on Friday night (Sept. 14), falling to host Scottsdale Desert Mountain 28-21 when Chaparral’s Tyler Whiley was stopped at the goal line by several defenders after catching a short pass on the final play of the game.
Chaparral dropped to an uncustomary 1-3. Its other two losses, to Tucson Salpointe Catholic and Tempe Marcos de Niza, came on decisive plays in the closing moments. The setback to Marcos de Niza also came on the final play of the game.
“These character-building games no longer fly. To have one in a season, maybe, but three in the first four games?’’ said first-year Chaparral coach Dave Huffine.
Division II Chaparral has won three straight state championships, and he knows opponents out there are looking for a new king.
“Nobody in the state feels to bad for us right now,’’ Huffine said.
“The guys fought hard in the second half. You can see by their reaction that they put a lot of heart and soul into this – they care a lot.’’
So does Division I Desert Mountain, which remained unbeaten at 4-0 after winning the latest battle of Shea Boulevard schools.
“We have talked about this for a year and a half,’’ Desert Mountain coach Tony Tabor said. “We know that to be the best, you have to beat the best.’’
Desert Mountain trailed 14-6 late in the first half, but managed a tie at intermission after quarterback Kyle Allen got away from a couple of defenders and threw to running back Adam Cooper near the right sideline on a third-and-8 play from the Chaparral 10.
Cooper kept his legs moving and bowled over a defender to get into the end zone with 1:31 left. Allen found receiver Mark Andrews with a bullet pass for the two-point conversion to make up for an earlier missed PAT that hit the left upright.
The momentum changed quickly in the third quarter when Desert Mountain recovered a fumble on the opening kickoff. After a penalty against Chaparral, Cooper scored on a 3-yard run. Cooper would score his third TD of the night, on a 12-yard run with 2:56 left in the third to make it 28-14.
Chaparral then went on an 80-yard, 11-play drive that was capped by Justin Paniagua’s 4-yard run.
But it was running back Malcolm Thomas, inserted into the lineup at the start of the drive, who did most of the work. Generously listed at 5-feet 5 and 150 pounds, scooted for 37 yards on six carries on the drive.
“No. 13 (Thomas) – we couldn’t find him,’’ Tabor said.
Thomas was again a major factor in Chaparral’s last drive. The Firebirds were backed up to their 8 after a long punt by Andrews, but kept the ball moving. Thomas rushed for 25 yards and Panaigua 35 as Chaparral got closer to a possible tie of the game.
Chaparral was at the 5 and called its final timeout with 2.1 seconds left. Quarterback Brad Schenker got the ball to Whiley, but he was unable to reach the ball over the goal line.
“We were all jumping for joy. We thought we got the ball in,’’ Huffine said. “But it didn’t happen. Now we have a tremendous challenge for all of us.’’
The defensive stand, and the whole game, showed how far the Desert Mountain program has come.
“Coming from behind in the first half and holding on at the end – those were things we wouldn’t have done in the past,’’ Tabor said.
Allen completed 10 of 20 passes for 113 yards, four to the 6-6 Andrews, a fellow junior. They connected for a 2-yard pass for the Wolves’ first TD on the first play of the second quarter.