As the old sports cliche goes, players don’t win games, teams do. To the Queen Creek Bulldogs, that philosophy isn’t just bulletin board material used to bring ego-driven athletes back down to earth; they live it and breathe it.
After the Bulldogs’ 26-6 victory in a 4A-II nonregion match-up Friday night against visiting Buckeye, it was nearly impossible to pick out a star of the game. And once the star was chosen, he refused to allow himself to stand out among his other teammates.
Nine different Bulldogs ran the ball and amassed 347 yards on 51 carries with only one run going longer than 20 yards. They pounded the ball with a steady patience and utilized their superior conditioning and depth to wear out a tired Hawks (1-4) defense.
“We spread the wealth,” said coach Curt LeBlanc. “We won’t have one kid whose statistics will be off the charts. We have a lot of athletes who we can utilize and manipulate.”
The Bulldogs (3-1) maintained a fast pace all game long, going with a hurry-up, sometimes no-huddle offense, even when they led by 14 in the fourth quarter.
“Conditioning is a strength of ours,” said LeBlanc. “We can tire out the opponent and it allows us to get big plays because we can get a big push.”
Iggy Castro ran eight times for 47 yards and made two key interceptions on defense to help pave the way for the Bulldogs, who responded well after losing their first game of the season last week against Apache Junction. He did not seem to mind when he ran the second pick back 30 yards, just to see the return nullified due to a penalty.
“I was a little frustrated,” admitted Castro, “but I figured, ‘Hey, more yards for our offense.’ ”
His team attitude was rewarded, as LeBlanc called for five rushing plays for Castro on the ensuing drive, including one he broke for a 15-yard gain.
LeBlanc also took advantage of two quality quarterbacks. Returning senior starter Richie Edwards threw just two passes in the game, one of which went for a touchdown, and sophomore Adam Brzeczeck completed 6-of-12 passes for 75 yards while running the ball 10 times for 65 yards.
Brandon Elcox scored two touchdowns and Jake Goddard added a 31-yard scoring run of his own for the Bulldogs.
Up next for the Bulldogs is the start of region play at Tempe High next week.
“Despite last week’s loss, we’re on track,” said LeBlanc. “We’re happy. We’re good.”