All the extra effort Seton Catholic made this season to play one more football game means this.
“I guess we’re practicing Thanksgiving morning,” Sentinels coach Rex Bowser told his team Saturday after Seton trounced Show Low, 42-14, in the Division IV football semifinals on Saturday afternoon.
Seton will play for the state title next Friday at Northern Arizona University’s Walkup Skydome against No. 1 Lakeside Blue Ridge. The Sentinels lost to the Yellow Jackets in the semifinals a season ago.
“This is unbelievable,” wide receiver Matt Haggerty said. “This has been a dream of mind since I started playing Pop Warner football and it’s been do or die for our senior year.”
Seton won’t mind a little extra work now with a chance at a rare state championship. Saturday, the Sentinels' speed and size advantage was obvious as they dominated the Cougars along the offensive front and with their big wide receivers.
Leading 14-7, it became quite evident that Seton was the superior team as it scored on three straight possessions to open the second half. Bowser went with quarterback David Gesicki to open the half because of his running ability. Ryan Bresnahan had played the entire first half.
“We thought we wore down their defense in the first half,” Bowser said.
So all Gesicki did is rush for 51 yards and a touchdown in the second half. He also completed 8-of-9 passes for 127 yards and three touchdowns, all to Haggerty.
Gesicki should give Bresnahan plenty of credit for his work. It was Seton’s other quarterback who was stellar in the first half leading the Sentinels on two long scoring drives as his offense took it to the Cougars. Running back Eric Probst scored both touchdowns and finished the game with 78 yards on the ground on 17 carries. Bresnahan was 16-of-20 passing for 138 yards.
After rushing for a mere 18 yards in last week’s come-from-behind win over Cottonwood Mingus in the quarterfinals, Seton rushed for 187 yards Saturday. Bowser said the offensive line played with a chip on its shoulder Saturday after last week’s effort.
“We challenged them this week,” Bowser said.
But the most dominating part of Seton’s victory may have come from its wide receivers, led by Haggerty. Show Low’s small secondary didn’t look that part of a semifinal team against the big Seton receivers. All but one stands over six feet tall.
Haggerty caught 11 passes for 161 yards and three touchdowns. He was not shy about saying how talented the Seton receivers are.
“We have one of the best receiving corps in the state with our size and speed,” Haggerty said. “Every one of us is quicker than anyone else on the field.”
Haggerty’s touchdowns were 21 yards, 37 yards and five yards and he now has 19 touchdown catches on the season.
Bowser said last year's experience in the semifinals was a tremendous help to his team this year. The Sentinels were beaten soundly that day.
“They beat us up and took our lunch money away from us,” Bowser said. “When that happened last year to us it was an eye-opener.”
So Seton (12-1) got more physical this year and it has helped them dominate opponents. The Sentinels average over 45 points per game and have thrown for close to 3,000 yards this season
The Seton defense also must be mentioned as it held Show Low (11-2) to 14 points. The Cougars averaged 40 per game coming into the semifinals. The Sentinels limited running back Dallin Crandell to 55 yards Saturday. He came into the game with 1,061 yards on the season.
Seton Catholic 42, Show Low 14
Seton Catholic 0 14 14 14 - 42
Show Low 0 7 0 7 - 14
First downs 27 14
Rushes-yards 46-187 21-72
Passing yards 265 127
Passes 24-29-1 14-35-1
Penalties 4-30 5-35
Fumbles 0-0 0-0
SL – Tenney 4 run (Borrego kick)
SC – Probst 2 run (Garlid kick)
SC – Probst 3 run (Garlid kick)
SC – Haggerty 21 pass from Gesicki (Garlid kick)
SC – Haggerty 37 pass from Gesicki (Garlid kick)
SC – Haggerty 5 pass from Gesicki (Garlid kick)
SC – Gesicki 7 run (Garlid kick)
SL – Tenney 2 run (Borrego kick)