Tempe Prep spent a little time Friday night diversifying its offensive portfolio.
The Knights, after building a comfortable first-half lead, worked on their passing game in the second half, and the results were overwhelmingly positive, as they scored another two touchdowns en route to a 38-20 victory over San Tan Foothills.
Tempe Prep, which beat San Tan Foothills by just one point last season, was looking for something resembling a balanced offensive attack with the Division V playoffs just two weeks away.
"We ground and pound. We are a running team,” quarterback Forest Redlin said. “The passing game is something we’ve been trying to get better at all year, and we’ve definitely improved. To get to the next level and reach our goal of winning a state championship, we have to be more balanced.”
Leading 24-0 at the half, Redlin was a perfect 4-for-4 passing in the third quarter, as he found Jack Otting-Crandall with a 17-yard touchdown pass to put the Knights up 31-0. Another completion to Otting-Crandall set up another score, a 4-yard run by Levi Hartzler to put Tempe Prep comfortably in front of the Sabercats, 38-0, late in the third quarter.
Redlin was 8-for-12 passing for 103 yards and one touchdown. As a team, Tempe Prep (7-2, 5-2) had averaged 271 yards a game rushing the football and just 62 through the air coming in, and Redlin had thrown more interceptions (three) than he had touchdown passes (two).
"Teams are going to crowd the box and make us prove we can throw the football,” Tempe Prep coach Thomas Brittain said.
The offensive numbers Tempe Prep put up Friday may not look that impressive (136 rushing yards), but the Knights were often in short-field situations thanks to their staunch defense. Four of Tempe Prep’s five scoring drives started in Sabercats territory.
The Knights' other score came on a 23-yard interception return late in the first half by Otting-Crandall, as he showed an ability to catch the ball on both offense and defense. That was the last of the 24 points Tempe Prep put up in the second quarter after Redlin scored on a 1-yard run and Hartzler on a 5-yard run.
San Tan Foothills' only offense came in the final quarter after Tempe Prep rested five of its senior defensive starters.
The Sabercats (5-4, 2-2) got touchdown runs from Ricky Wilson and quarterback Juan Lopez. Lopez also hit Tyrine Blaise with a 30-yard touchdown pass, his only completion of the game.
Tempe Prep 38, San Tan Foothills 20
San Tan Foothills 0 0 0 20 - 20
Tempe Prep 0 24 14 0 - 38
First downs 14 13
Rushes-yards 37-260 34-136
Passes 1-5-1 8-12-0
Passing yards 30 103
Penalties 3-30 4-45
Fumbles 0-0 0-0
TP – Redlin 1 run (Wiese kick)
TP – Wiese 23 FG
TP _ Hartzler 5 run (Wiese kick)
TP – Otting-Crandall 23 run (Wiese kick)
TP – Otting-Crandall 17 pass from Redlin (Wiese kick)
TP – Hartzler 4 run (Wiese kick)
STF – Wilson 3 run (pass failed)
STF – Blaise 22 pass from Lopez (Wilson run)
STF – Lopez 1 run (run failed)