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Posted: Saturday, December 8, 2007 1:19 am | Updated: 7:45 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

The 2007 Centennial Coyotes were too talented and too focused. In an all Desert West Region 5A Div-II state championship battle the top seeded Coyotes (13-1) scored on four of their first five possessions against No. 6 Westview (10-4) on their way to a 26-7 victory Friday at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale. Click here for a photo gallery The heroics would be shared by family members as cousins Jeff Hughes, a senior and junior John Hughes had Westview seeing double. In leading Centennial to their second straight championship the duo combined for four touchdowns and three interceptions. "That family has so much athletic talent it's unbelievable," senior teammate Adam Shipley said. "Some of the things they do are unbelievable. I'm jealous, but I'm glad they're on my team." Junior running back John Hughes was the story of the first half scoring twice on a pair of incredible individual efforts. A 99 yard kickoff return for a touchdown on the game's opening play was called back due to a block in the back penalty, but it was a sign of things to come in what was a spectacular half of football from the junior who capped the game's opening 24 minutes by intercepting a Albert Lizarraga's pass as the half came to a close. "I think even though we had a penalty that play sent a strong message that we were ready to play," said the junior about the kickoff return. Centennial opened the game's scoring when John's older cousin Jeff was on the receiving end of a 28-yard touchdown pass from senior quarterback Scott Burgett on 3rd-and-21. "That was a big play, because it was a third and long," Burgett said. "It was big for us to get that first score." Westview, which lost 20-14 to Centennial during their regular season matchup, initially showed that they might be capable of getting into a shootout with the Coyotes, using a 53 yard halfback option pass to set up a 2-yard Reggie Nicholson touchdown which gave the Knights a 7-6 lead at the 9:03 mark of the first half. It would be a mirage though as a potent Westview running game was brought to a halt by the Coyotes defense. Westview, which reached the finals on the strength of Nicholson, who rushed for 1,825 yards and 26 touchdowns through the Knights first 13 games and Brian Conley who rushed for 1,733 yards and 20 touchdowns found few holes against the Centennial defense. On 25 carries the two Knights backs combined for a pedestrian 115 yards. "Our goal was to stop the run," said Shipley, one of the Coyotes linebackers. "Our coaches put us in the right positions all night. Once we stopped the run and made them pass it was a big advantage for us." Taking full advantage Centennial intercepted Knights quarterback Albert Lizarraga three times, with Jeff Hughes coming up with two picks in the second half. Field position would be a big factor in the first half. After their lone non-scoring drive of the first half Coyotes punter Ben Werft's 45-yard effort pinned Westview at their own 2. When the Knights failed to move the ball the Coyotes took advantage of good field position going 27 yards in five plays. Facing a 4th-and-4 from the Westview 10 Burgett had trouble with the shotgun snap as it went through his hands. Scrambling to his left the senior quarterback picked up the ball and tossed a short pass to John Hughes in the left flat. It was then that Hughes did his first of two Houdini-like acts. Pinned in near the sideline the junior cut all the way across the field weaving his way through the entire Westview defense to score in the right corner of the end zone. After going with a largely vanilla playbook in the first matchup with Westview the Coyotes more closely resembled Baskin Robbins 31 flavors as they threw everything but the kitchen sink at the Knights going with five wide receiver formations on numerous occasions throughout the game. The philosophy was simple. "We've got so many weapons, " said Burgett who finished the night 11-of-17 for 205 yards and three touchdowns. "When we're going good nobody can stop us. John, Jeff, Jarrell (Barbour) they've got unbelievable moves. Every time I get them the ball I expect at least 10 yards and you always have the chance that they'll score. I think we put Westview on their heels with all the looks we showed them." Alternating touchdowns it would be Jeff making the score 20-7 early in the second capping a five-play drive with a 3-yard touchdown run. While Jeff Hughes would be the primary ground gainer for Centennial throughout the season it would be a 27-yard catch from Burgett to that would set up the score. "We planned to pass it more tonight," said the senior who finished with three receptions for 70 yards and a score. "It was just a matter of Scott making the right reads and getting the ball to his play makers. I was glad I got a chance to make some plays tonight." John would cap the game's scoring right before the have when he once again ran through the defense for a 27 yard touchdown making a cut that left three Knights defenders in the dust before running past the remaining Westview players, again cutting all the way across the field in the process. Centennial coach Dick Taylor who improved to 35-1 in three seasons at the 5A Div-II level expressed pride in his team's approach. "These guys love to compete with one and other," he said. "Our practices this year were unbelievable." Despite the talents of the players on the Coyotes roster team success has been the overriding priority. We're not trying to create stars, we're trying to win championships," he said. "A lot of teams have players that put up bigger numbers than our guys do, but if they're lucky enough to get here (the championship game) they're pretty beat up. We create depth by using a multitude of guys." While all the players celebrated gleefully perhaps none enjoyed the experience as much as senior Kendrick McBride who transferred to Centennial this season after spending the last couple season on losing teams at Kofa High School in Yuma. "I can't even say what I'm feeling, I've never been this happy in my life," he said.

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