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Aztecs look on bright side of opening-game loss to Dobson

By: Chris Kamper

September 1, 2007

This represents Chris Kamper’s fourth season of writing game summaries for the Corona del Sol Aztec football team. Kamper says his philosophy in writing the articles has been “to keep them positive, attempt to accurately capture the game highlights and recognize as many of the players as possible.”

He adds: “ I try my best to keep stats during the game, however please remember that the stats I report, while they may be close to accurate, are not ‘official’ game stats.”

Our Aztecs kicked off the 30th anniversary season Aug. 24 against our neighbors to the east, the Dobson Mustangs. The Mustangs have not been on our non-conference schedule for a few years.

Going into the game, the Aztecs had an 8-8 record against Dobson during our 30-year history of Aztec football. While players and fans were hopeful for an Aztec victory to commence this anniversary season, the celebration will have to wait. The visiting Mustangs galloped away with a 26-16 win on this hot August night.

The game started with promise for the Aztecs. After receiving the opening kickoff, under the direction of sophomore QB Chase Cartwright, the punishing running of senior tailback JR Hamm and a 46-yard run off a well-executed reverse by receiver Kirby Pellant, the Aztecs drove deep into Mustang territory.

But a QB sack on fourth down thwarted the Aztec drive and the Mustangs retook possession. The Mustangs proceeded to drive deep into Aztec territory, but a fumble- causing hit by linebacker Vincent Bonanno stalled the Mustang drive at the Aztec 20 yard line.

The Mustangs quickly intercepted a short Aztec pass and strolled in for a touchdown at the 4:58 mark of the first quarter. The Mustangs couldn’t complete the point-after-touchdown, but were on top, 6-0.

The Aztecs took the ensuing kickoff and responded with an effective, time- consuming drive to the Mustang 10 yard line. From there, Cartwright completed a 10-yard toss to Brandon Stern for the Aztecs’ first TD of the 2007 season. Pellant converted the PAT and the Aztecs were in the lead, 7-6, as the first quarter came to a close.

In the second quarter, after a change of possessions, Dobson mounted a long drive that resulted in a TD on a nine-yard run at the 1:54 mark. After converting a two-point conversion, the Mustangs were back on top at halftime, 14-7.

The Aztecs kicked off to the Mustangs to start the second half. The Aztec defense forced a quick “three and out,” forcing a short Mustang punt.

The Aztec offense took over with good field position at the Mustang 45 yard line and efficiently drove the ball to the Dobson 15 yard line before two untimely Aztec penalties stalled the drive, and the Mustang offense again took over on downs at its own 25 yard line.

The Aztec defense again rose to the occasion, highlighted by a Wyatt Cahill QB sack, forcing a Mustang punt deep in their own territory. But the punt was blocked by Aztec Lucas Starkey and the ball was kicked out of the back of the end zone by the Mustangs, resulting in a safety and two points for the Aztecs.

The third quarter came to a close with the Mustangs still in the lead, 14-9, but momentum had shifted to the Aztecs.

The Mustangs responded to the Aztec comeback with a long, time consuming drive to start the fourth quarter. Dobson scored at the 8:46 mark to increase its lead to 20-9. After receiving the Mustang kickoff, the Aztecs quickly gave the ball back to the Mustangs on a pass interception deep in Aztec territory. The Mustangs converted the turnover into another TD at the 3:55 mark to increase their lead to 26-9.

This game appeared to be over, but the Aztecs vainly tried to get back in it. Senior QB Nick Aldini hit senior tight end Joey Kamper with a long pass down the middle for a 58-yard TD reception to narrow the score to 26-16 with 2:31 left in the game. The Aztecs could not recover the onside kick. The Mustangs were able to run out the clock and preserve their victory.

The Aztecs were in the game until the fourth quarter when the turnovers and untimely penalties were finally too much to overcome.

On defense, the Aztecs were led by Trevor Stapp with 11 tackles, Evan Altheide and Eric Benson with seven tackles each, and Kyle Schmella, Austin Cartwright, Wyatt Cahill and Tyler Giannonatti, each with six tackles.

Ryan Nolan, Vincent Bonnano, Joey Kamper, Lucas Starkey and Elijah Chiang each contributed two or more tackles.

On offense, the Aztecs were led by Hamm, with 132 yards rushing on 21 carries.

Even though this was a tough opening-game loss for the Aztecs, there were a number of positives to build upon.

The Aztec offense totaled over 200 yards rushing, and the QBs threw two TD passes. The Aztec defense and pass coverage allowed only two Mustang pass receptions.

Best of all, the Aztec special teams all played great.

Our Aztecs will need these positives and more as they were due to take on the highly ranked Mesa Red Mountain Lions at 7 p.m. Friday, Aug. 31, at Red Mountain.



Photo by Kris Cartwright


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