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Les WillseyStaff Writer, AIA365.com firstname.lastname@example.org
Queen Creek FB has ingredients for Division III title runOct 11, 2012
Queen Creek's football team has managed to do what a lot of good, even great teams struggle with at least once during a season -- not lose focus.
The Bulldogs, who were 10-2 last year and Division III quarterfinalists before bowing to eventual champ Saguaro for the second year in a row, are toying with an unbeaten regular season. At 7-0 heading to Friday's game at Poston Butte, one thing Queen Creek coach Joe Germaine is most proud of is the steadfast attention his team has paid to every opponent.
"After the win over Perry I was concerned," Germaine said. "They're a Division II team, and we won at their place. It was easy to have a letdown the next week. We came out the next week and had a great performance. Having a letdown hasn't been an issue. Not yet. We're trying to keep it that way."
Germaine doesn't believe it will be a concern down the stretch. Queen Creek's final three opponents all have winning records (Poston Butte, Camp Verde and Williams Field).
Aside from its ultra-focus week-in-and week-out, success for Queen Creek is manifest in its maturity. Many of the players have produced improved seasons and many played extensively last year as sophomores and juniors. There's a confidence that's visible.
"I think they're for real, I hope they're for real," Perry coach Preston Jones said. "They beat our (tails). They're physical and you can tell they're not intimidated. They execute. They're not fancy, just do their stuff well. I think they can compete with the top teams in their division."
Four of Queen Creek's starting offensive linemen from 2011 returned (seniors Cody McGhee, Shane Till, Chris Ervin and Dalton Tebbs). They've been the key to big games for running backs Matt Guida and Marcus Still, who began upturns in their production the final half of 2011. Guida has rushed for better than 1,300 yards while averaging just 10 carries a game. The line also has protected quarterback Carson Jones. Jones has a TD-interception ratio of 12-2 In all two-thirds of Queen Creek's starters from last season returned.
"Our offensive line has played great," Germaine said. "Those guys are the ones helping make it happen for Matt and Marcus. Carson has really improved this year after getting starts in our last six games (eight counting playoff contests)."
Queen Creek's defense has also been stout. The Bulldogs have five shutouts and allowed 29 points total. With the competition picking up the next few weeks that stinginess may not last, but it's a good sign.
The players who are juniors and seniors this year have had the benefit of learning Germaine and his coaching staff's expectations the past three years. That's meant less time introducing or refining schemes and the like.
"I think we have improved year to year," Germaine said. "The kids coming through the program have seen what we do at the freshman and JV levels. The credit to the improvement goes to the kids. They have to pick it up and follow through."
One caveat to Queen Creek's prowess is its schedule. While the Bulldogs domination each game has been undeniable, success by their conquered foes is meager. Only Perry (5-2) among the first seven opponents has a winning record; the other six are a combined 8-34.
"We have some tough opponents coming up," Germaine said. "Hopefully our mindset and maturity allows us to look at who we are playing now and worry about the next team the next week."