Aztecs boost school’s quest for $10k fitness grant
Three of Corona’s varsity football players joined in the effort to help Kyrene del Milenio Elementary School win a possible $10,000 Fuel Up for 60 grant sponsored by the NFL and National Dairy Council.
James Contes, Carter Colton and Dylan Huch volunteered to help the school one day during a week-long event. Concept of the program is to get kids active for 60 minutes a day while eating a healthy diet.
Milenio teamed up with the Arizona Cardinals but also asked local high school football players to come in during the day to read to the students and work with them during lunch recess to help achieve their 60 minutes of exercise.
Besides demonstrating specific skills, the three Aztec athletes ran stations where the kids passed, caught, punted, place-kicked and ran agility drills.
The teens also participated in reading to the students during this spirit week where students were encouraged to wear their favorite jersey one day, create and perform touchdown dances another day, and participate in a Wackiest Cardinal Fan Day yet another day—all tied into nutrition.
Participating from Desert Vista’s football team were Kaleb Germinaro and Matt Young.
Under new head coach Tom Joseph, the Aztecs have tightened up their defense, steadied their offense and created a unique special-teams unit to produce the team’s best record since 2008 after defeating Gilbert Highland 28-10 on Sept. 16.
After a scoreless first quarter, partially due to Corona’s 5-foot-10 defensive back Maceo Brown’s touchdown-saving tackle on Highland’s Imani Washington, both teams managed to score in the second quarter.
The Hawks scored first but the Aztecs answered with a touchdown of their own when sophomore wide-receiver Tevin Mayfield caught a 38-yard pass from quarterback Kyle Busk to tie the score 7-7 with nine minutes left in the second quarter.
The Aztecs and Hawks both had opportunities to score again before the end of the first half but neither could put together a decent drive, or their momentum was squashed by penalties.
For instance, Corona started at their own 30, put together some good plays including a crushing block by Andrus Peat to open up a spot for senior Matt Seall to rush for 19 yards to the Hawks’ 26-yard line only to be called for holding. The Aztecs went for it on a fourth-and-10 with 3:30 left but gave the ball up to Highland when the pass was incomplete.
The Hawks were called for several penalties including a false start on their own fourth-and-one, and a hit to Corona’s quarterback’s head that resulted in a first down just when they may have gotten the ball back.
Tied 7-7 at the half, the turning point may have been when the Aztecs special teams didn’t fall for a trick pouch kick the Hawks tried during their second half kick-off.
Carter Colton sprinted up from Corona’s second line fast enough to not only catch the ball but scurry straight up the heart of the defense 65 yards for a touchdown to start off the second half. Colton received some good blocks from his teammates but the one by Kyle Niemtchk was probably crucial to his ability to get past the Hawks’ defense.
Zach Von Allworden’s point after kick gave the Aztecs a 14-7 lead they never relinquished as their defensive line stopped the Hawks offense from scoring anything other than a field goal in the third quarter. To emphasize this point, the Aztecs sacked Highland’s quarterback five times, three by Peat.
Coach Joseph must have reemphasized his ground game at halftime because the Aztecs came out of the locker room rushing the ball more instead of passing like they did at the end of the second quarter. At the end of that quarter, the Aztecs had seven straight incomplete passes.
Dominic Mercurio not only gained 95 yards rushing, all in the second half, but was instrumental to the Aztecs’ third touchdown when he rushed for 36 yards on a fourth-and-two to the Hawks’ three-yard line. Matt Seall caught a touchdown pass from Busk with three minutes left in the third quarter to make the score 21-10.
The Aztecs were able to take advantage of their outstanding offensive line personnel including Corona’s other highly recruited player, Avery Moss, and several Hawk penalties to score a final touchdown on a time-consuming drive after getting the ball at their own 17.
Busk somehow managed to complete his pass to junior running back James Contes for a 16-yard gain just before he was hit late by a Highland defensive player. The resulting penalty moved the Aztecs into Highland’s red zone.
With eight minutes left, Corona put in a trick play that worked to perfection. Mercurio took the handoff at the goal line and threw it across the field to Busk for the Aztecs’ final touchdown and 28-10 lead, with almost six minutes left.
The Aztec defense recovered a Highland fumble on the ensuing kickoff and then intercepted a Highland pass when the Hawks got the ball back after a 45-yard field goal attempt by Von Allworden missed just left after going the distance.
“It felt good to us, as a team, to get off to such a great start of 3-1 this season,” said Andrus Peat. “It’s definitely been a confidence booster, but we also realize we have a tough schedule ahead of us.”
Corona’s only loss at press time came in its first game against Bashan, where the Aztecs had a hard time matching up with Basha’s athletes. The Bear’s offensive strategy also appeared to consist of passing the ball instead of trying to run against Corona’s hard hitting defensive line including Peat and Moss.
The Basha game, though, did show off Mercurio’s ability to run the ball where he not only got in a long touchdown run but compiled 164 yards on 23 carries. Mercurio continued to demonstrate his rushing abilities when he returned a kickoff for a touchdown against Westwood and got sizable numbers, 86 yards on 20 carried, including a first-quarter touchdown in the Aztecs’ second season win against Dobson, 33-6, Sept. 9.
Other highlights of the first three games include the play of Moss who has stepped up on both sides of the ball at defensive end and tight end this season. He was in the backfield all night against Westwood, who lost to the Aztecs 44-14 on Sept. 2, and caught a touchdown pass against Dobson.
Junior defensive back James Vaifale, who intercepted an errant pass by the Dobson quarterback and ran it back 39 yards to score a touchdown, has been playing well, as has senior defensive back Nick Woods. Woods had a key interception at Dobson when the game was still close.
Junior backup quarterback Billy Clemens appears to be someone the Aztecs can count if needed. He started, and played the first two quarters, in the Dobson game because Busk missed practice. He attempted only three passes but completed all three and then ran for a touchdown in the second quarter.
Although the Aztecs are greatly improved over last year, they still have room to make adjustments if they hope to defeat any of the teams on the rest of their 2011 schedule.
“We are not content with just three wins,” said Peat. “There are still a lot of mistakes we need to take care of if we want to continue winning and moving forward.”
Corona was scheduled to play Desert Vista at home Sept. 23 and then at Yuma Cibola Sept. 30 and Mt. Pointe Oct. 6 before their next home game, Oct. 14 against Chandler.
Corona’s swim and dive team is steadily improving over the season, heading into the Brophy/Xavier Swim and Dive Invitational that was scheduled for Sept. 23-24.
The boys team is 1-2, having won its meet against McClintock but losing to Mt. Pointe.
Although the girls team has not won a meet this season, there have been some high spots. Chloe Hacker has consistently taken first in the girls one-meter diving competition.
Results from the past two meets, at McClintock and Mt. Pointe, have shown that some of the best results have come from freshman swimmers.
On the boys team, freshmen Nick Quon and Neon Stern made a splash on the 200 Medley relay when they took first place at both meets with teammates Chris Tate and Nick Wilson.
Quon took second in the 100 Butterfly at Mt. Pointe; Stern was second in the 100 Freestyle at both meets.
Freshman Nicole Holly had a first place finish at both in the 100 Butterfly while she took first at McClintock and third against Mt. Pointe in the 200 IM. Holly took first in the 100 Free at Mt. Pointe while another freshman, Amy Hong, took first in the same race at McClintock.
Fellow freshman teammate Myah Kamina took second at both meets in the 500 Freestyle.
The teams will know more how they stack up in the state after the Brophy/Xavier meet, results which will be reported in the next edition.