This can’t continue.
Having said that, there’s no doubt it will. What’s Friday night fun without drama, right?
These games happen every week -- sometimes two, three or four times on a given week.
Because of this, those of us who aren’t teenagers (or 20-somethings) anymore would like to formally request a cease-and-desist on account of health reasons.
It was only Week 1, not even a full schedule of games. Already four contests left people pulling their hair out, kept Maalox in business, and players and coaches awake until the wee hours rehashing the good and the ugly.
This week, the theatrics fell on two newcomers to the East Valley -- Corona del Sol (Zane Zamenski) and Red Mountain (Ron Wisniewski) -- and a couple veterans who made aggressive, controversial calls at the final horn.
One worked, sort of. Desert Ridge coach Jeremy Hathcock called for a 2-point conversion while trailing 27-26 to Mesquite that worked (except for it being negated by penalties). Rich Milligan tried something similar at Apache Junction when the Prospectors pulled within 14-13 as the clock ran out. That didn’t work either.
As for the new guys, as coaching debuts go, it was worth writing home about.
Red Mountain began its new era in a track meet with Westwood, and that’s not a good idea. The Warriors’ winning percentage recently doesn’t shine brightly, but Greg Mendez has skill-position players who can run and move with anyone in town. Size and depth are the Warriors’ bugaboos, but they led bigger, deeper Red Mountain 32-10 at halftime. Yes, Westwood is that dangerous.
That’s when the comeback began, one bigger than any in school history. The Lions won 38-32 in the final minute, which left Wisniewski to joke he’ll quit if this continues, and which begs the question of what’s Red Mountain’s idea of can-you-top-this.
The Aztecs' matchup with Desert Mountain was far less aesthetically exciting at 3-3 going into overtime, but through a multitude of mistakes and missed opportunities by Desert Mountain, Corona seized its usage of the short field in overtime with two short TD passes and a defense — the game’s MVP — which held one final time.
The only newbie who had it easy (relatively speaking) was Kevin Allen at Valley Christian, as the Trojans went up to Flagstaff and steamrolled Globe in their coach’s debut on Saturday afternoon.
Then again, after Corona-Desert Mountain, Mesquite-Desert Ridge and Red Mountain-Westwood, who had a stomach left to absorb any more tension?
Forget about quitting, coach, if this continues most weeks for four more months, the heart may stop ticking altogether.
Not only did Chandler lose its starting running back in Oshae Hatcher for the season to a freak injury (more on that in a few minutes), but the Wolves have to play at Peoria Centennial this week. The 5A Division II powerhouse Coyotes are every bit as fast defensively as advertised, and while their offense doesn’t yet figure to be as powerful as Centennial has grown accustomed in the past five years, it’s never considered a “weakness.”
Even though the Wolves took it on the chin last year, 62-38, Chandler quarterback Brett Hundley made this game his coming-out party after taking over in the second quarter. It’ll be strength vs. strength again as Chandler still has a potent offense against Centennial’s defense.
Corona del Sol and Red Mountain have already given themselves victories and their respective new coaches happy ulcers in the process (see above). The schools will tangle on Brown Road in Mesa this time.
Two more highly-anticipated coaching debuts are coming. Basha (Bernie Busken) begins its quest to turn heads this season and remind us there’s more to that suburb than Hamilton and Chandler (this Insider, for one, hasn’t forgotten).
Former Mountain View stud, 1997 Rose Bowl nemesis (if you’re an Arizona State fan) and former Arizona Rattler Joe Germaine will lead a new era at Queen Creek against rival Higley. The Knights have one of the more electric players around in running back Kelvin Fisher. This should prove an excellent season-opener for both schools.
Gilbert Rivalry: Two consecutive years have meant two incredible finishes between Desert Ridge and Mesquite. Last year it was a kicker picking up a blocked field goal and returning it for a touchdown. This year, there was a 95-yard kickoff return, a questionable 4th-and-2 call, a receiver throwing a 60-yard touchdown, a recovered onside kick, a block in the back negating a reverse-field, would-have-been-game-winning two-point conversion, an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty and a 52-yard field goal that didn’t miss by much.
Special Teams: Who said there aren’t three phases to football? Hamilton’s Malcolm Holland returned a kickoff for a touchdown for the second time in two weeks. Chandler went nuts with a 96-yard kickoff return (Aaron Mayo), a 64-yard punt return (Paul Perkins) and a blocked punt for a touchdown (Jamel Vargas). Perry’s Andrew Jiminez returned a punt 78 yards, Desert Mountain blocked a field goal, and even San Tan Foothills got into the mix with a 75-yard return to set up a score.
Lineman with legs: That was 310-pound Mo Latu motoring his way into the end zone from 20 yards out for Perry after he fulfilled a lineman’s fantasy by picking off a screen pass by Casa Grande and scoring. Rumor has it that Latu (already a top two-way lineman in the Valley) has lobbied to play quarterback for a few snaps, but coach Preston Jones hasn’t caved in. Yet. Latu can block, tackle, and now apparently catch-and-run. How hard could completing a couple post patterns be?
Skyline’s track: It’s nobody’s fault, of course, but what happened to Chandler’s Oshae Hatcher during pregame warmups is the kind of thing that makes you wonder how football players can knock each other into next week and get up 80 times every week for four months. An hour before the game, the Wolves starting running back went to retrieve a ball on Skyline’s soft surface and his cleat stuck. Bam! A fractured ankle, an ambulance and a senior season practically down the drain. It’s a huge loss for Chandler on the field, and a bigger loss for Hatcher, a good kid who already came back from serious injury earlier in his high school career.
Discipline: Welcome to the other side of Week 1, where kids are out of place, forget snap counts, and the desire to hit someone else tips overboard. Even with a bye next week, Desert Vista coach Dan Hinds gave his team an earful (and more) this weekend after his team committed 14 penalties for 156 yards in the Thunder’s narrow victory against Tucson. That included four personal fouls (two during Tucson’s final drive which D.V. finally stopped at the 5-yard line to win the game). Desert Mountain, Pinnacle and Independence weren’t so fortunate, as mental mistakes and anxiousness cost them during key moments.