Opening loss doesn’t dampen Aztecs’ resolve

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No. 20, Jalen Bryant, carried the ball eight times against Highland, scoring the only rushing touchdown.
No. 20, Jalen Bryant, carried the ball eight times against Highland, scoring the only rushing touchdown.

 By Alex Zener

Corona’s football team started its first game of the season strong but fell flat in the second half, losing to Highland 27-18.

It was just the opposite in the Aztecs’ second game of the season when they rallied midway through the second quarter to score 30 unanswered points, defeating La Joya 30-14 on Aug. 26.

Against Highland, the Aztecs scored on their first drive when Kobee Marion caught a 35-yard touchdown pass to score Corona’s first points of 2016 season and put Corona up 7-0.

The Hawks answered back with seven of their own. The first quarter ended tied 7-7.

Jalen Bryant proved that the Aztecs have more than one running back when he plowed through the Hawks’ defensive line to score a touchdown in the second quarter and give Corona a 14-7 lead.

Highland went into halftime with the momentum on its side after scoring a second touchdown to tie the score 14-14.

The Hawks started the third quarter with two touchdowns in the first four minutes to double the score and go up 28-14.

Both Highland and Corona could not sustain any offensive output after Austin Delaney scored a field goal for the Aztecs midway through the third quarter.

In addition to those three points, he made both of his PAT kicks to score five out of Corona’s 17 points.

Kaden Riforgiate, in addition to forcing the Highland fumble in the first quarter that ultimately led to the touchdown by Byrant, had three solo and four tackle assists.

But he just doesn’t play defense. As the punt kicker, he kicked an 81-yard punt. If he could consistently kick like that he may want to look for a college scholarship as a kicker.

Other positive aspects of the Highland game included Austin Helt’s performance at quarterback, completing 16 out of 24 attempts for 147 yards spreading the ball around the field to a total of seven receivers.

Jacob Kress had five receptions, Ricky Pearsall and Kobee Marion had three receptions each. Jacob Goodwin had two receptions and Jalen Bryant, Griffin Baker and Cameron Brice each had one.

The defense had some great moments as well with 60 total tackles, 43 of them solo tackles. The team was led by Jacob Clemens with 12 solo and Kaden Carte with 10 solo tackles, while Evan McQueen and Parker Christenson were each credited with a quarterback sack.

The Aztecs had a hard time getting started against La Joya Community in their second game of the season. Fortunately, the Fighting Lobos had the same problem.

This game had it all: interceptions, fumbles, onside kicks, blocked punts, two-point conversions, untimely penalties, and a safety. But it was not boring, for Corona fans that is, with plenty of good offensive and defensive plays mixed in.

Corona, except for Brandon Gavel’s interception on the Lobos’ first play of the game, had no consistent offense until midway through the second quarter when Brice was able to break away for a 60-yard touchdown run to put the Aztecs up 7-0.

Corona would go on to score 23 more unanswered points.

First was a touchdown pass from Helt to Baker with two minutes left in the half to go up 14-0.

Next, La Joya’s punter stepped on the backline when punting the ball, giving the Aztecs two points for a safety and the ball.

On the ensuing kickoff, Goodwin returned the kickoff 65 yards to add another seven points, giving the Aztecs a 23-0 lead.

Lastly, Brian McCluskey blocked a Lobo punt that ultimately led to a touchdown pass from Helt to Bryant. The Aztecs went up 30-0.

Then the wheels came off with eight minutes left in the game.

The Lobos intercepted backup quarterback Tim Martin’s first pass and ran it back to the Aztec 14-yard line.

La Joya scored, Corona fumbled on the kickoff return. La Joya recovered on the Aztec 45. With two minutes left, the Lobos scored their second touchdown of the game.

What else could go wrong? Corona fumbled again and La Joya took possession.

Corona’s defense took over, Riforgiate intercepted a pass, and the Aztecs celebrated a big win for the team.

The Aztecs needed this win against the Lobos to boost their confidence when they face off against Mesa Mountain View at home Sept. 2, against Cezar Chavez on Sept. 9 and at home against Perry Sept. 16.

 

Alex Barcello made his decision Aug. 26 on his third (and official) visit to the University of Arizona: he’ll be playing for the Wildcats.

Citing his closeness and connection to coach Sean Miller, the coaching staff and players, Barcello will forgo his last two official visits: Indiana and Virginia. He visited Stanford and Butler earlier this month.

The 6’2” 175-pound point/shooting guard was looking for the perfect fit when he narrowed down his choices earlier to Stanford, Butler, Indiana, Virginia and Arizona.

Miller first offered Barcello a scholarship his sophomore year, when he was on his way to winning his second straight state high school championship as a major player for the Aztecs.

It’s that intense driving desire to win, not just every game, but to win a national college championship that both coach Miller and Barcello share which may have been the tipping point in his decision.

Barcello will be the first in-state scholarship freshman since 2011. The last freshman from the state of Arizona was Nick Johnson, whose hometown is Gilbert.

It should be fun for Corona, and especially Barcello fans who have followed and watched not only his growth as a basketball player but his maturity as a young man to follow his college career at Arizona—on TV anyway because, unless you are a University of Arizona student, the Wildcats are typically sold out way in advance to season ticket holders.

 

Editor’s note: Due to a last-minute editing error, we said inaccurately in our last edition that Barcello is playing for the Oakland Soldiers, a club team. As stated in the current report appearing above, Barcello is in his senior year at Corona del Sol High School.

Tempe H.S. Football — The Buffaloes won their first game of the season 36-24 at home against Estrella Foothills after falling behind 0-14 before sophomore quarterback Nathan Clayton was able to connect with junior receiver Stevie Maddox for a 65-yard touchdown pass to pull within seven.

Tempe kicker Jonathan Ibarra added three points on a made field goal and Donnell Card ran in from five yards out on another possession to give the Buffaloes a 2-point lead at 16-14.

Tempe recovered a fumble on the Wolves 2-yard line presenting the perfect opportunity for Card to rush for his second of three touchdowns in the game and give the Buffaloes a nine-point lead at 23-14.

Tempe’s offense can certainly give credit to the defense for keeping them in the game with four well-timed fumble recoveries and two interceptions.

Seniors Damian Triana recovered two Estrella Foothills fumbles while Card and Deandre Hughes each had one. Hughes and Triana were each credited with an interception.

The Wolves would go ahead by one point at 24-23 after a 90-yard kickoff return and a field goal but by then Tempe’s offense seemed to have found some sort of rhythm with Card scoring his third touchdown and Camari Mitchell catching a 25-yard touchdown pass from Clayton to score another just before the end of the game.

The leading tackler was Moses Ruiz with 11 total blocks while My-King Johnson had nine and Derrieon Wheaton eight. Sophomore Louie Parra was credited with one sack.

Special teams led by Kaden Chong and Mitchell each had a blocked punt plus Johnson blocked a field goal.

The Buffaloes were not so lucky in their 7-35 loss against Catalina Foothills in Tucson led by quarterback Rhett Rodriquez, son of the University of Arizona head coach Rich Rodriquez.

Rodriquez, a four-year starting quarterback who has an impressive record at Catalina, has committed to play at Arizona.

Tempe fell behind early but this time was not able to recover under the Falcons offensive onslaught. The Buffaloes only points came off a 64-yard rushing touchdown by sophomore running back Juwan Jefferson.

Up next, Tempe has a chance to recover in a home non-conference game against Buckeye Sept. 2 before playing at Yonkers, Sept. 9 and at Apache Junction Sept. 16.

 

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