When Kenny Mitchell transferred from Higley to Williams Field before this season, it took time for him to get fully integrated into the game plan.
It’s safe to say the implementation is complete.
Mitchell caught a 46-yard touchdown pass, ran a punt back 74 yards for a score and returned a kickoff 92 yards for a touchdown - all in the first half - as the No. 2 seed Black Hawks defeated No. 7 Amphitheater, 62-35, in the 4A Division II quarterfinals at Williams Field.
“I just saw nothing but end zone,” Mitchell said of the returns. “That’s all I was looking at.”
Williams Field advances to play No. 3 seed Notre Dame in the semifinals next Friday on a yet-to-be-determined neutral field. The Black Hawks beat the Saints, 21-16, on Oct. 8.
Notre Dame will need to figure out a way to slow down the Black Hawks offense, which was masterful against the Panthers. Williams Field started off throwing, as quarterback Tom Ross had 177 yards passing at the half. His favorite target was J.D. Layton, who caught nine balls for 131 yards and a touchdown.
Amphitheater brought its safeties into the box and forced the Black Hawks to score through the air, which they did with ease. Ross finished with 227 yards passing, three touchdowns and an interception.
Ross hit Mitchell on the opening drive for the score and added a 50-yard pass to Tyler Polanco late in the first quarter for a 28-7 lead. Amphitheater wouldn’t threaten the rest of the way.
“When Tom is as on as he is, and the guys are catching the ball, it’s going to make for a good night,” Williams Field coach Steve Campbell said.
Williams Field running back Alex Howard ran for 99 yards and three touchdowns in the first half, but didn’t play in the second half after taking a hit to the chest. He is expected to be fine for next week’s game.
In addition to his three touchdowns, Mitchell was the team’s second-leading rusher with 39 yards on six carries. He said he would have had a rushing touchdown, too, if a cramp didn’t force him from the game in the second half.
“I couldn’t really do much,” Mitchell said. “I had to come out.”
Williams Field was beaten by Amphitheater in the first round of the 4A-II playoffs last season by one point in overtime. The defense allowed 35 points in that game as well, but in this one, the Panthers got much of their scoring once the game was in hand.
Williams Field had a 49-13 lead at the half, and the defense recovered two fumbles and had two sacks in the contest.