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AZPreps365 Cornerby AIA365.com Staff
Nationally Ranked Centennial Cruises AgainSep 22, 2012
The Centennial Coyotes jumped into the "Maxpreps Xcellent 25" this week and they showed why Friday night. Centennial, the top seed in Division II and ranked 23rd in the nation by Maxpreps, cruised to a 56-23 rout of 10th-seeded Willow Canyon to remain perfect on the season and setup a huge showdown with Ironwood Ridge next Friday in Tucson.
Even with another double-digit victory, Centennial head coach Richard Taylor was not happy with the special teams giving up a pair of 90-yard kick returns for touchdowns. "Not good at all, that was not a good performance," Taylor said. "Just very sloppy.....I was pretty happy up to the point the score was 28-0, then I thought the wheels came off for us. We did pretty good simply because we have pretty good talent."
The Coyotes (5-0) were without a pair of defensive starters, as defensive end Marcus Farria and linebacker Wes Westbrook missed with injuries, but the defense continued to impress. Willow Canyon (3-2) managed just 26 yards rushing as a team and junior quarterback Tristan Madden completed just one pass for seven yards on the first offensive series. He finished 1-of-8 with two interceptions, including a costly pick at the 10-yard line that setup an easy score by sophomore Dedrick Young that put the Coyotes up 28-0 midway through the first half.
Centennial quarterback Tre' Grant threw for 255 yards and five touchdowns, but did throw his first pick of the season and was sacked for the first time. The senior also ran for 56 yards on six carries. Taylor said "I think he (Grant) played very well being pressured most of the night......(there were) way too many white jerseys in the backfield when we were trying to pass."
Centennial's leading rusher Jalen Ortiz suffered an apparent elbow injury on the first offensive series and sat the rest of the night with ice on the elbow. Junior Matt Rodriguez and the plethora of running backs still racked up 198 yards rushing for the Coyotes, who have now outscored their opponents 305-75 this season. Rodriguez had 85 yards and two TD's on 10 carries, while Young ended with seven touches for 40 yards and two scores.
Centennial has posted big wins over third-seeded Apollo and 10th-ranked Willow Canyon in back-to-back weeks, but the Coyotes now travel to Ironwood Ridge this Friday. It will be a battle of unbeatens and could be a 1-2 matchup when the new rankings are released this week. The Nighthawks entered Friday seeded fifth, but pulled off a huge 35-27 upset win at second-seeded Marcos de Niza in Tempe and will likely supplant the Padres in the rankings.
Taylor said "if we play like that next week, it's going to be a long bus ride home." He added, "we're going to have to get a whole lot better to make the game interesting."
Antony Thompson returned a kickoff 90 yards for a TD just before halftime and Gaetano Florio took the opening kick of the second half 90 yards for a score to make it 35-17 and give the Wildcats some life. However, the offense just could not get anything going. Coming off a 201-yard and five TD performance at Tempe McClintock, Thompson was held to just 44 yards on 18 carries.
Willow Canyon's other score came on a 25-yard fumble recovery by Florio that made it 49-23 late in the third quarter, but Centennial answered in less than three minutes with Young's second TD of the night to put the game out of reach. The Wildcats travel to Glendale to face Ironwood (3-2) next week.
By Thomas Jenkins