After getting past the first round over Sahuarita Walden Grove, Peoria head coach Will Babb wasn’t sure what to say about his team’s performance Nov. 3 at Peoria High School.
“Yeah, not sure what to take from this game, it was just a strange game,” said Babb. “Where do I start? We played well; we just had too many foolish penalties and those mistakes will hurt us next week if we don’t clean them up.”
Junior running back Juwaun Price rushed for 202 yards and three touchdowns and senior quarterback Nate Dobson totaled 195 yards (102 passing, 93 rushing) and one touchdown as Peoria cruised to a 33-7 win over Walden Grove.
Peoria (8-3) travels to face defending 4A champion Scottsdale Saguaro Nov. 10 at Saguaro High School.
Walden Grove (7-4), who was playing in the school’s first playoff game, struggled offensively as the Panthers’ defense slowed down a Red Wolves’ offense that had averaged over 338 yards a game by holding them under 200.
“(Walden Grove) is a decent team and they were aggressive and they played hard and I was impressed,” Babb said.
The Panthers got on the board first when, with just over eight minutes left in the first quarter, Dobson drove the offense to the one-yard line, where he raced up the middle for a touchdown.
Early in the second, with the game tied at seven, Sonatane Zabala scored on a one-yard run with eight minutes left in the first half to take a 14-7 lead.
The game stayed that way until less than a minute left in the first half, Price took a handoff and raced around the left side and 90 yards down the sideline for a touchdown to give the Panthers a 20-7 half-time lead.
“Our offense looked better than it shows, because we would get a big gain and a foolish penalty would put us back for a first and long and that is tough,” Babb said. “We have to cut those down and make sure we play our game, or it will be tough, no matter who we play.”
Price added touchdown runs of 28 and 25 in the second half to secure the win, as the Panthers totaled 395 yards. Aaron Owsiany caught a 48-yard pass and Cameron Torres grabbed two passes for 36 yards, while Jonathan Jones and Shane Marshall each had a sack while the defense shut down Walden Grove.
“We have to get better, that is for sure, if they want to do what they think they can do (in the next round),” Babb said. “Nobody picks us to win, but we still have to show up and play and, we are Peoria and we want to honor the kids who played before us and show that we are still a strong program.”