TUCSON - In its first official varsity season, Campo Verde made impressive strides to reach the playoffs.
Then came the playoffs.
The 16th-seeded Coyotes had to face top-ranked Sabino, which held six of its 10 opponents scoreless in the regular season. And like those other teams, Campo Verde struggled offensively against the Sabercats in a 42-6 loss Friday in the first round of the Division III playoffs.
Sabino (10-1) held the Coyotes (6-5) to 45 yards rushing
and 28 yards passing. The Sabercats turned an interception into a touchdown for a 21-0 lead before halftime.
"They did exactly what they did on tape, fly around," Campo Verde coach Max Ragsdale said. "They're a well-coached team. They do a great job, and it's a great program. It was definitely a tough task. We had to play excellent, and they had to help us. They certainly
didn't do that tonight."
The Coyotes scored their touchdown with 3:18 remaining on sophomore quarterback Luke Pineda's 7-yard touchdown pass to junior Sean Appel. But the extra-point was wide, and Sabino led 42-6.
The Sabercats have won 10 in a row and advance to face No. 9
Phoenix Thunderbird. With a quick, crushing defense, Sabino has held opponents to 3.6 points per game. The only team to score double digits against the Sabercats was Vail Cienega, which beat Sabino 17-16 in the season opener.
"Defensively, speed-wise, even when we make a mistake, we have so much make-up speed it just allows us to put people in a lot of bad situations," Sabino coach Jay Campos said.
While Sabino advances, Campo Verde will reflect on its first season playing a regular varsity schedule. The Coyotes went 6-6 and reached the playoffs as an independent last season.
"The seniors set a solid foundation we're going to build upon and get better every year," Ragsdale said. "It's awesome. We'll get better."
For Campo Verde, quarterbacks Pineda and junior Rand Hawk combined to go 5-of-15 for 28 yards passing. Pineda had the Coyotes' longest play of the night on a 27-yard run.
Sabino finished with 376 total yards. Quarterback Dallas Brown rushed for 135 yards and scored two touchdowns. Running back Cody Lloyd rushed for 70 yards and scored two touchdowns.
"They're a really well-coached, very disciplined football team," Campos said of Campo Verde. "Even when we got up on them big, they never laid down. Their best days are definitely in front of them, and I'm very impressed with the caliber of football they played."