Sports Notebook: James Contes’ rushing-yards record adds to Aztecs’ homecoming victory

George Wright (25) explodes through the hole that Jordan Somerville (62), Beau Sitton (2), quarterback Evan Kinney (3) and Kion McKinley (7) helped create to ultimately rush for 35 yards to score Corona’s fifth touchdown against Cibola to go up 35-0 in the third quarter. — Photo by Kris Cartwright

Corona del Sol’s Aztecs bounced back from their loss at Desert Vista to win their homecoming game in style 48-7 over Cibola. Add to the stat books two new school records set by James Contes.

“I broke the school’s single-game record previously set at 294 rushing yards,” said Contes. He was around 282 yards in the fourth quarter when Coach Joseph found out about how close he was to the record.

“James Contes not only broke the single game record for rushing 306 yards on 21 carries against Cibola,” said Coach Tom Joseph. “His 97-yard touchdown broke the longest-run-from-scrimmage record.”

The Aztecs came out strong, almost as if it was a new team from the one that played Desert Vista the week before, giving up 48 points to the Thunder.

“The difference between this game and the game against DV was the physicality of the game,” said senior linebacker Aaron Simons. “We were pushed around against DV, and it was the complete opposite in the Cibola game. The line and the running backs did a great job even helping set a couple of school rushing records.”

It certainly appeared as if the Aztecs set out to prove they were an improved team over the previous week by scoring five touchdowns—three by Contes alone—before Cibola was able to put any points on the board. Altogether, the Aztecs scored seven touchdowns.

Maceo Brown received a 30-yard pass from quarterback Evan Kinney, one of the few pass attempts of the entire game by the Aztecs, to score a touchdown in the second quarter. James Wright scored on another big run for the Aztecs, a 35-yard rush into the end zone, at the beginning of the second half. Then RJ Rhiner avoided tackles to rush 15 yards and score the team’s last touchdown.

Isaac Niemtschk went 7 for 7 on point-after kicks to give the Aztecs reason to celebrate Homecoming.

“It felt great to win by that much in our homecoming game,” said Cassius Peat. “It was especially great to give our fans something to cheer about on this special night.”

This big win for the Aztecs may give them the confidence they are going to need to play their next two opponents: No. 3 ranked Mountain Pointe, a team coming off its first loss of the season, and currently No. 7-ranked Chandler.

Tempe High football

Will the Tempe Buffalo football team ever cease to amaze this season? Let’s hope not. They are like the Little Engine That Could, winning more games so far this year than the last three years combined, and the Buffaloes still had four games left to play as of press time.

Who’s the difference maker? It could be head coach Brian Walker in his fourth year. Or sophomore quarterback Emanuel Gant who so far has completed over 70 percent of his passes for over 1,500 total yards and an average of over 250 a game to a bevy of his favorite receivers: Massiah Smith, Sebastian Watkins, Jordan Wiatr and Raija Holt.

Gant, for instance, passed the ball 416 yards for four touchdowns in the Buffalos’ 62-20 wallop over Washington on Sept. 21, where Smith scored two receiving touchdowns ;Watkins and Wiatr scored one each.

Gant is not a one-dimensional quarterback by any stretch of the imagination. With his quick feet he averages close to six yards a carry when he keeps the ball himself instead of passing it off to Tempe’s three senior running threats: Wiatr, Holt and Johnathan Caraway.

The Buffalos’ ability to run the ball was never more evident than when six of their nine total touchdowns in the 63-28 rout of Apache Junction on Sept. 28 came from running the ball into the end zone.

Wiatr, who carried the ball eight times for 126 yards, scored two of his three total touchdowns on the ground. Smith ran in two more as did Wiatr, while Gant scored one rushing touchdown.

The defense has been stellar in the Buffalos’ wins this season, averaging close to 80 total tackles and two sacks per game. Oscar Carrizo has had monster games on defense against both Washington and Apache Junction, as has Nojeem Adebule. Carrizo had 10 solo blocks against Washington and nine against the Prospectors while Adebule had seven solo blocks in each game.

Jose Lemus has been finding a way to get to the opponents quarterbacks, recording a sack against both Washington and Apache Junction, while Trevin McKinney was in the right place at the right time in both games, intercepting a pass in each one. Isaac Chavez snagged two interceptions against Washington.

The Buffalos may have had a potentially harder time winning their game Oct. 5 when they were due to meet up with the 4-2 Campo Verde from Gilbert. Up next the Buffalos were scheduled to play Arcadia Oct. 12 and Seton Catholic Oct. 19.

Marcos de Niza football

Marcos rebounded from its uncharacteristic sketchy play in its first loss of the season, falling 35-27 to Tucson’s Ironwood Ridge, to trounce Camelback 50-0, Sept. 28. The Padres’ junior quarterback, Josh Eckley, had a superlative game, with his hand in three of the team’s seven total touchdowns.

The Padres scored 29 points in the first quarter, including a 20-yard pass from Eckley to Paul Elvira; a 3-yard rushing touchdown by Eckley; a 43-yard Eckley pass to Kamron Johnson; and a 53-yard rushing touchdown by Mauriece Lee. Jaron Jones completed three of three point-after kicks and Elvira ran in a 2-point conversion to end the first quarter leading 29-0.

The Padres scored two times in the second quarter—a 41-yard rushing touchdown by Lee and a 25-yard touchdown pass from backup quarterback Andrew Molina. After point-after kicks from Jones, Marcos went into halftime up 41-0.

Molina’s three-yard pass to Taylor Blankenship in the third was enough for the Padres to ease off a bit the rest of the game on offense—but don’t tell the defense. The defense must have set a zero-tolerance goal against the Spartans scoring any points because Camelback, which averages over 20 points a game, was not able to score a single point.

Ozo Cabrera and Derek Craig each had 10 total tackles while Craig and Kahan Johnson each had four solo tackles. Coleman Griffith, defensive player of the game, was credited with three solo and seven total tackles.

It must have felt like Craig was everywhere, though, to the Spartan offense, because he also had a quarterback sack along with Kharyee Davis and Rickie Becerra. Jacquese Moore did more damage to the Camelback offense by snagging an errant pass recorded as an interception for the Padres.

The Padres should have smooth sailing for a couple of games after their Oct. 5 meet-up with Gilbert for a non-conference away game before facing off against cross-town rival McClintock Oct. 12 and South Mountain Oct. 17. The Tigers, at 1-5, look like an easy win on paper, but it could be a different story on the field.

The Padres’ final regular season game, scheduled Oct. 26 against new coach Bill Patter’s 6-0 Chavez Champions, could turn out to be a nail biter with state playoff seeding ramifications.

Desert Twilight Classic Cross Country Meet

Corona’s cross country team has done well in its early season events, including one win for the boys team at the Ojo Rojo and a win for the girls freshman team at the Desert Twilight Classic resulting in the boys team being currently ranked No. 2 and the girls team No. 6 in the state. Team includes: Row 1: Hallie Swenson, Jake Whitney, Victoria Haun; Row 2: Alexis Brillo, Hannah Webber, Lauren Van Ryswyk, Emily Ferreira, Mason Swenson, Rosa Calderon, Nazhony Linguenthain, Anna Eischen, Jena Chalmers; Row 3: Olivia Van Vleet, Erin Wochner, Alexis Artiaga, Maddie Frias, Amy Marlar, Mackenzie Horder, Kennedy Volgt, Alyssa Lewis, Kelly Naumann, Amberly Ricks, Sidney Bussler, Grace Ashu; Row 4: Blake Fischer, Andrew Eversden, Nilesh Bissessur, Lucas Ykema, Patrick Cullings, Connor Poulin, Jonathan Mondine, Sammy Rodriguez, Alex Frantz, Bryant Needham, Alex Hart, Christian Conner, Nicholas Phillips; Row 5: Nathan Rodriguez, Ryan Normand, Chase Wile, Nicholas Creaseman, Andrew Truswell, Johnathan Lopez, Henry Eischen, Joshua Reyes, Tony Delareizi, Matthew Eckles.
Not in picture: Sammi Moore, Matt Johnson, Roni Cortes, Cody Jackson, Adrian Aldava, Adrianna Fill, Adrianna Flores. — Photo by Alex Zener

Corona’s freshman girls cross country team won the Girls Frosh Large School race at the Desert Twilight Classic hosted by Queen Creek but attended by several of the top Division I teams in Arizona.

“Our freshman girl’s class is especially good this year,” said assistant coach Ari Rodriguez. “We were pleasantly surprised when they won the Desert Twilight Frosh race because Desert Vista and Xavier usually win this category.”

Corona placed three runners in the top seven spots, with Maddie Frias crossing the finish line in second place with a time of 21:40:56. Alexis Artiaga was right on her heels finishing third at 21:41:00. Mackenzie Harder rounded out the trio in seventh place. Also earning points for the Lady Aztec freshman team was Alyssa Lewis (18th) and Nazhony Lingren-Thain (27th).

Corona’s Mile Split Girls Sweepstakes runners finished eighth with senior Hallie Swenson placing 33rd, Victoria Haun 37th, Mason Swenson 43rd, Sammie Moore 69th and Kelly Naumann 87th

“We are led by Hallie Swenson and Victoria Haun, our only senior girls this season, which means we have some younger runners on the team getting experience competing in these big races,” said coach Rodriguez. “Even with our youthful inexperience, our girls team was ranked No. 6 after the Twilight so we should be an even stronger team next year.”

“Matter of fact, three of our varsity girl runners are freshman,” said coach Rodriguez. “Mason Swenson, the younger sister of Hallie Swenson, is a standout runner taking our third spot. Alexis Artiaga and Maddie Frias have been a pleasant surprise, too, with both running varsity.”

Another surprise for the Corona cross country coaches is a varsity basketball player who decided to try cross country running before the basketball season started.

“A great addition to our team this year has been junior Sammie Moore,” said coach Rodriguez. “This is her first season running cross country and she has already helped us.”

Running in the Open category for Corona’s girls team was Grace Ashu finishing in 31st place followed by Kristina Nedlekova, Adrianna Flores, Erin Wochner and Hannah Webber.

Corona’s boys team placed fifth in the Boys Sweepstakes classification at the Desert Twilight Classic after taking first place at the Ojo Rojo the week before.

The Aztec’s top runner, Nathan Rodriguez, won the Ojo Rojo Cross Country meet Sept. 22 in Chandler,

Rodriguez has continues to improve his time every race. He did not disappoint at the Twilight by shaving close to 20 seconds off his top time of the year of 15:53.00, attained at the Ojo Rojo. He ran the Twilight in 15:35.10 and finished third currently placing him with the second fastest time in Division I this 2012 season

“After I crossed the line in first at the Ojo Rojo, I thought ‘That wasn’t too bad; I can go faster’,” said Nathan Rodriguez. “Even though I didn’t place first, I felt really good about my race at the Twilight. I learned a couple of things from that race I can work on by the state meet.”

Besides Rodriguez coming in third in the Boys Sweepstakes classification at the Desert Twilight, the Aztecs had Ryan Normand at 13th, Jake Whitney 32nd, Blake Fischer 80th, and Andrew Truswell at 100th.

“Ryan Normand is one of our standout returning runners,” said coach Rodriguez. “He struggled with injuries last year but we’ve gotten them under control and now his running has really improved.  He is currently our second runner, up five spots from his seventh place finish at the state meet last year.”

“Our only senior varsity runner, Jake Whitney, was our number one finisher at the state meet last year and is slowly moving back up to the front as he recovers from an Achilles tendon injury he sustained over the summer,” said coach Rodriquez.

The Aztecs took fourth in the Boys Large School Open category with the lead runner, Alex Frantz, taking ninth place, followed by Patrick Cullings, 19th; Andrew Eversden, 28th; Alex Hart, 41st; and Jonathon Lopez ,46th.

“Alex Frantz is another varsity runner from last year that we are looking to move up in the standings,” said coach Rodriguez. “He, too, was hurt over the summer and is starting to improve.”

Corona’s boys freshman team did not fair as well as the girls, placing 14th with Bryant Needham leading the Aztecs across the finish line followed by Josh Reyes, Connor Poulin, Aditya Parekh and Paul Da Rosa.

Marcos de Niza Girls Cross Country 

Marcos has a strong girls cross country team consisting of five seniors and two juniors who have consistently placed in the top 10 against Division I competitors, and the Desert Twilight Classic Sept. 28 in Queen Creek was no exception.

Competing in the Girls Large School Varsity classification, Holly Berns, Jessey Tenorio, Rachel Maher, An Tran, Megan Lubbers, Lidia Diaz and Caitlin O’Grady ran fast enough times to give Marcos eighth place, right behind Mountain Pointe.

McClintock Boys Cross Country

The McClintock Chargers ran with the big schools at the recent Desert Twilight Classic and took an impressive 12th place in the Large School Varsity class.

The chargers were led by Michael Rojas, who took sixth with a time of 16:55.95, followed by Emmanuel Hidalgo in 36th; Osvaldo Cervantes 69th; Ethan Clah 85th; Angelo Nevarez 93rd; and Guillermo Morales 95th  out of 137 runners.

Aztec Golf Team

With eight returning golfers from last season, coach Jennifer Ray is thinking the team may qualify a couple of kids for the state tournament this season.

Conor Prindiville, Alex Vogt, Austin Contreras, Daniel Seacat, Patrick Carlson, Cole Young, Marcus Schnieder and Jimmy Dixon are our returning golfers this season,” said coach Ray. “Our team is doing well this season but Conor and incoming freshman Jakob Patterson are probably having the biggest impact on the team’s success.”

“Conor, a junior, is our No. 1 golfer followed by Jakob,” said Ray. “Both have taken leadership roles on for the team.”

Prindiville had a state qualifying round at the Arizona Fall Preview while Alex Vogt shot a qualifying round of 37 at the Gilbert and Desert Mountain regular season meet.

In addition to Prindiville, Patterson, and Vogt, Josh Owen and Seacat round out the Aztec’s top five golfers while Schnieder and Tommy Dougherty have made tremendous improvements to their game according to Ray.

The Aztecs had won four straight dual matches before taking 11th in the Aquila Invitational Sept. 21-22. The Aztecs only have four more matches available this season to qualify for the state tournament both individually and as a team.

Lady Aztec Lacrosse

The Tempe Lady Aztecs Lacrosse Club Team compiled a 9-3 regular season record before losing in the first round of the playoffs to the Horizon Huskies, 6-13.

Six players, Holly Berns, Caitlin O’Grady, Jenna Castiglione, Brooke Prausa, Mason Kuluris and Karstyn Pollard, represented the team at the All-Star Game.

Midfield Berns led the team in almost all categories including shots at 62, points, 61, points per game, 4.69 and goals at 47. She was followed closely in the stat records by center O’Grady who took 60 shots at goal, had 58 points, 4.46 points per game and 39 goals for the Lady Aztecs.

Berns earned the distinction of being honored not only as an All-Star but also as an All-State and most distinctly as the Midfielder of the Year for all DI schools in Arizona. She was also voted as an All-American and honored by the US Lacrosse Association.

Chosen, in addition to Berns, to be All-State representatives were Zoe Browning and Kuluris.

Further information about the Tempe Lady Aztecs Lacrosse Team can be found at



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