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AZPreps365 Cornerby AIA365.com Staff
Top-Seeded Centennial Hosts #10 Willow CanyonSep 20, 2012
The top-seeded Centennial Coyotes continue a tough three-game stretch this week against teams in the top-10. The Coyotes, now ranked 23rd in the nation by Maxpreps, host 10th-seeded Willow Canyon Friday night in a big Division II, Section I matchup in Peoria. The game will feature two of the high powered offenses in the state, and country.
Centennial (4-0) has rolled past its first four opponents and ranks in the top-five in the nation in scoring, putting up 249 points while holding opponents to just 52. The Coyotes cruised to a 70-20 victory at third-seeded Apollo last Friday, making it the first time in school history the team has scored 70-plus points in back-to-back games. The road gets even tougher now for Centennial, which travels to fifth-seeded Ironwood Ridge (4-0) next week. The Nighthawks take on second-seeded Marcos de Niza Friday in Tempe, so next week's contest could be a one-two matchup between Centennial and IR should both teams win.
Jalen Ortiz leads a balanced rushing attack with 31 carries for 309 yards and five TD's. The senior also has a receiving score to his credit. As a unit, the Coyotes have racked up 1,151 yards and 21 touchdowns on the ground. Centennial senior quarterback Tre' Grant has made it look easy through the four lopsided victories, throwing for 528 yards and seven touchdowns. He's also ran for 140 yards and a score and has been able to sit most of the second half in each game due to large leads.
Asked how his Wildcats will try to limit the high-powered Coyotes offense, Wildcats head coach Mike Hudnutt said “they (the Coyotes) have several weapons and we will try to slow them down. We have to control the clock when we have the ball and not give them very many opportunities to score.”
Willow Canyon is off to it’s best start since opening 5-and-1 in 2007. Coach Hudnutt said “we expect to improve each week. Our first goal is to win each week and have an opportunity to return to the playoffs. Our team needs to stay focused on the task at hand each week and improve. If we can do that good things will happen.”
The Wildcats (3-1) boast a solid running game as well. They have gained 1,031 yards and 16 touchdowns as a team. They are led by senior Antony Thompson, who has 695 yards and 12 TD's on 55 carries. That includes his 201-yard, five touchdown performance in last week's 47-22 victory at Tempe McClintock. The Wildcats' lone loss was in Week Two to Surprise Valley Vista, which is seeded third in Division I and currently undefeated at 4-0.
The Wildcats are 0-and-4 all-time against the Coyotes, including a pair of losses last season. Centennial crushed Willow Canyon, 41-7, in the regular season in Surprise and then blanked the Wildcats, 30-0, in the opening round of the playoffs in Peoria. Hudnutt said “we believe that playing the best only makes you stronger. We had the opportunity to play them twice last year and that will only make our program stronger. They are a great program that has proven themselves year in and year out.” Kickoff Friday night is set for 7 pm.
By Thomas Jenkins