The 2009 season has been a role reversal for the Mesa Westwood and Mesa Skyline football teams.
That's a good thing for Westwood. Not so good for Skyline.
Westwood reeled off its third straight win with a precision performance in the first half Friday night and dealt Skyline its fourth consecutive loss, 45-14, in a 5A East Valley Region game at Skyline High.
Westwood had five first-half possessions and scored on each one to build a 31-0 lead at halftime. The Warriors' defense gave up just 48 yards and two first downs in its time on the field in the first half, making it an enjoyable evening for coach Greg Mendez and his staff. Westwood was 2-9 last season and never a threat to make it to postseason. Skyline was 7-5 in 2008 and reached postseason in 5A-II.
"That first 24 minutes, I'll take that any day of the week," Mendez said. "We moved the ball, and on defense we were flying all over the place. We played well."
Westwood (5-3, 3-1), which piled up 296 yards of offense in the first half, took the opening kickoff and marched 62 yards in seven plays to grab a 7-0 lead. The drive culminated with quarterback Juan Zazueta hitting tight end Deandre Barnes over the middle for a 42-yard touchdown with 9:36 left in the period. The Warriors looked sharper and fresher from the get-go in all phases.
A three-and-out, the first of three in a row for Skyline, set up Westwood for its second possession at its own 24. Running back Billy Sueing's 71-yard run to the Skyline 5 set up a 2-yard TD run by Kyler Mickelson at the 6:11 mark of the first period to make it 14-0.
The rest of the first half played out the same way, with kicker Keith Boomguard (27-yard field goal), Sueing (5-yard run) and Valencio Gray (13-yard run) adding TDs.
Skyline (2-6, 0-3), which has struggled running the ball most of the year, had to go to pass mode in the second period and inserted backup quarterback Chad Leonard and shifted starting quarterback Michael Bailey to receiver. The move got the Coyotes' offense moving, but their one promising drive fizzled at the Westwood 30 late in the second period.
Leonard continued at quarterback in the second half but was picked off twice in the third period by Westwood. Sueing and Zazueta came up with the interceptions, returning them 60 and 68 yards, respectively, for scores to make it 45-0 Westwood with 4:48 left in the third period.
"We're working hard at practice and preach doing our assignments," Mendez said. "The kids are responding. We like to think we control our destiny right now as far as making the playoffs goes."
Skyline scored twice through the air in the final period, with Leonard re-entering the game after the two picks. Bailey returned at quarterback and left with a leg injury, giving Leonard another chance. Leonard tossed touchdown passes of 25 and 6 yards to Clint Imlay and Tyler Sinsabaugh, respectively.
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Westwood opens the scoring on a 42-yard pass from Juan Zazueta to Deandre Barnes with 9:36 to go in the first quarter. 7-0 Westwood.
Westwood takes a 14-0 lead on a 2-yard TD run by Tyler Nickelson with 6:11 in the opening quarter.
Westwood tacks on a field goal with 11:54 to go in the first half to push the lead to 17-0 over Skyline.
Westwood's Billy Sueing scores on a 5-yard run and it's now Westwood 24, Skyline 0 with 7:07 left in the first half.
Westwood scores on a 13-yard run by Valencio Gray to extend the lead to 31-0 with 15 seconds to go in the first half.
Westwood's Billy Sueing returns an interception 60 yards for a touchdown to make it 38-0 Warriors with 9:32 to go in the third quarter.
A 65-yard interception return for a touchdown by Juan Zazueta extends Westwood's lead to 45-0 with 4:48 left in the third quarter.
Skyline finally gets on the board on a 25-yard touchdown pass from Chad Leonard to Clint Imlay with 11:53 left in the game. Westwood leads 45-7.
Skyline scores on a 6-yard TD pass from Chad Leonard to Tyler Sinsbaugh, making it 45-14 Westwood with just seven minutes to play.
Westwood (4-3, 2-1) vs. Skyline (2-5, 0-2)
Time: 7 p.m.
Address: 845 S. Crismon Road, Mesa
Key matchup: Skyline defense vs. Westwood offense. Warriors have excelled with big plays in most of their four wins, so Coyotes must force them to grind out scores.
Key stat: Skyline’s only win over a sister school in Mesa came against Westwood in 2006.
The intrigue: Skyline is trying to keep fading playoff hopes alive while Westwood is trying to further enhance a niche in postseason.