Cactus wins first round over Moon Valley 71-8

Facing off against No. 12 Moon Valley in an emotional rematch, No. 5 Cactus dominated from the opening kick off in cruising to a 71-8 first-round 4A playoff at Cactus High School Nov. 3.

Damaria Norris rushed for 241 yards and three touchdowns, as six different Cobras scored on five of their first seven possessions in jumping to a 36-0 halftime lead. The offense moved the ball at will.

The rematch was two weeks after Moon Valley’s Carlos Sanchez died from a head injury during the Oct. 20 Cactus 41-27 victory at Moon Valley High School. The Moon Valley player was honored before the game when his family was presented a $4,000 scholarship in his honor.

“It has been a really long two weeks,” said Cactus head coach Larry Fetkenhier after the win. “I am proud of the way my guys played and I think this was the healthiest this team has been all season and it showed on the field.”

Cactus will travel to No. 4 Tucson Salpointe Catholic Nov. 10 for a 7 p.m. quarterfinal battle.

In getting to the quarterfinals, the Cobras rushed for 381 yards as a team, with Norris (three rushing), Mahal Lee (three passing, one rushing), Garrett Monroe (one rushing), Anthony Flores (one rushing) and Isaac Gilliam (one rushing) each scored in the victory.

Cactus got on the board first when, three minutes into the game, Lee connected on a 22-yard touchdown pass to Zach Cullop and Norris added a two-point conversion for an 8-0 lead. Six minutes later, Norris added his first touchdown when he took a hand off and rumbled up the middle; the rout was on.

Norris scored on runs of 4, 10 and 48 yards and Lee connected on touchdown passes of 22, 17 and 17 as the offense totaled 500 yards, while the defense shut down the Rockets and prepares for the quarterfinal matchup against Salpointe Catholic.

“We’re very confident,” said Norris. “We’re not cocky we just know we need to get better and we are all ready for this next game, and want to keep it forward.”

CENTENNIAL 28, SUNNYSLOPE 2 - After a slow start, Centennial broke through in the second quarter and pulled away behind a strong rushing game in defeating Phoenix Sunnyslope 28-2 in the first round of the 5A playoffs at Centennial High School.

Zidane Thomas rushed for 129 yards and three touchdowns touchdowns as the Coyotes’ offense struggled to get rolling early.

Sunnyslope took a lead late in the first quarter, when Centennial quarterback Rueben Beltran rolled to his right and was sacked in the end zone by Sunnyslope’s Jaran Whitfield to put the Vikings up 2-0.

Midway through the second quarter, the Coyotes finally got on the board when AJ Jackson took a punt at his own 39-yard line and cut up the middle before racing 61 yards down the sideline for a touchdown.

Thomas scored three times in the third quarter on runs of 19, 2 and 10 yards to seal the victory for the Coyotes (9-1) and send them to the semi-finals to face No. 10 Scottsdale Chaparral (7-4) Nov. 10 at Centennial High School.

LIBERTY 28, CAMPO VERDE 7 - Liberty quarterback Ryan Bendle passed for 271 yards and three touchdowns, two to Jett Kinsch, as the Lions cruised past Campo Verde 28-7 in the 5A first round.

Kinsch added a 28-yard touchdown run in the first quarter and he caught four passes for 90 yards, including a 28-yard touchdown pass in the third quarter that sealed the victory.

The Liberty defense was dominant, holding Campo Verde to 227 total yards and intercepted two passes by Eli Pittman and Colby Rooker. John Clark, Braxten Crouteay, Dylan Cutting and Ryan Pitts each had a sack, as the Lions had four sacks of two Campo Verde quarterbacks.

Liberty (10-1) hosts Tucson Ironwood Ridge (8-3) Nov. 10 at Liberty High School.