Centennial opened the new season against a battle of defending state champions and showed why it is the favorite to win its fourth title over the past five years.
While Centennial dominated with a 42-19 win over Casteel, which made the two-section jump, team members felt they needed more than what they did in the season opener Aug. 17.
“We took this game personally,” quarterback Jonathan Morris said. “We’re going to take every game personally. We’re going to try to beat everyone by as much as we can.”
While the team cruised to the victory, senior A.J. Jackson was upset the team did not give Centennial head coach Richard Taylor his 62nd career shutout.
“We should have played a lot better than we did. I’m personally not proud of my performance tonight. We shouldn’t have let them score,” Jackson said.
The Coyotes opened the game scoring on their first possession of the game, when transfer running back Tawee Walker broke a tackle and scored on a 5-yard run.
Walker, who transferred from Mojave (Nevada), had three touchdowns in his first game as a Coyote as the team broke out to a 35-0 lead. Walker scored on a 73-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter, as well as runs of 13 and one yards in the victory.
“They didn’t respect us,” Walker said. “I heard some people were doubting us, like they were going to beat us. We knew what was going to happen. We kind of struggled at the start, and that was partially my fault because the plays are designed for me to let my blocks develop and slow down.”
Walker continued, “I am the type of running back that likes to just run through holes. My last team, I would just run, I wouldn’t wait. But coaches here got in my head and told me to slow down and let my blocks develop. After that, we were on a roll.”
The Coyotes defense was strong through three quarters, holding Casteel out of the end zone until midway through the fourth quarter when the Colts erupted for 19 points.
Centennial’s Jaydin Young caught a 58-year touchdown pass in the final minutes to seal the Coyotes’ scoring.
Centennial (1-0) has a bye next week before hosting Las Vegas (NV) Bishop Gorman (0-0) Aug. 31 at Centennial High School and the players know they will have to do more to defeat a national power such as Gorman.
“When you’re a state championship team, you have to play like one, and tonight I don’t feel like we were at that caliber,” Jackson said. “If we go out against Gorman like we did tonight, we’re not going to win.”
LIBERTY 7, PHOENIX BROPHY PREP 0
The Lions’ defense held Brophy Prep to 130 total yards offense as Liberty struggled, but held off the Broncos for a 7-0 season-opening victory Aug. 17 at Liberty High School.
Senior Eli Pittman took the second half opening kickoff 53 yards to set up quarterback Jonah Guevara connecting with Jake Robinson on a 28-yard completion to put the Lions at the Broncos 3-yard line.
On the next play, the Lions Jace Accurso took a direct snap and rumbled up the left side on a 3-yard touchdown run in the third quarter for the winning touchdown.
The Liberty defense was able to hold Brophy Prep to 130 yards, but the Lions offense was not much more effective, as it racked up just 200 yards total offense. Guevara threw for 116 yards and Robinson caught four passes for 66 yards.
Liberty (1-0) travels to Glendale Copper Canyon (0-0) Aug. 24 at Copper Canyon High School.
SUNRISE MOUNTAIN 42, PHOENIX CENTRAL 8
The Mustangs’ offense was outgained by the Bobcats 243 to 203, but the Mustangs cruised to a 42-9 season-opening victory at Sunrise Mountain High School.
Senior quarterback Keegan Freid completed eight of nine passes for 71 yards and four touchdowns, all in the first half, in leading the Mustangs. Sophomore quarterback Callin Knapp completed four of eight for 57 yards and a touchdown in relief as senior Nathan Duran caught two touchdown passes and Jared Trimble and Ezekiel Marshall each grabbed a touchdown pass.