Playing without a half-dozen key contributors hasn't stopped Seton Catholic. Neither has bad snaps or other teams' defenses.
With a backup quarterback in David Gesicki who's played most of the season, a starting running back who was on JV three weeks ago and a sophomore replacement along the offensive line, the Sentinels continue to do right in the last month after a 55-8 trouncing of Higley on Friday night.
Granted, the schedule hasn't been overly challenging, but since the Sentinels' lone loss of the season against Tempe Prep in Week 3 (when Ryan Bresnahan suffered a broken hand and Gesicki became the team's QB), Seton has outscored its next five opponents 272-29 as it heads into an interesting matchup at Tempe High next week.
In the process, Higley's playoff aspirations took a big hit.
The senior Gesicki has been an unknown because he sat behind a record-setter in Bresnahan for two seasons, but the 6-foot-4, 200-pounder showed off his strong arm (243 yards passing and ) and mobility (56 yards rushing) while the Sentinels constantly cut through Higley's defense.
It was Seton's night when a botched PAT snap after a touchdown turned into an easy 2-point conversion pass from Matt Haggerty to Antonio Campanella.
"They dominated," Higley coach Eddy Zubey said, further disconcerted that he felt his team was prepared and ready to play despite the distractions of fall break.
Gesicki and Haggerty connected eight times (all in the first half) for 103 and two touchdowns. Haggerty also had a 32-yard interception return for a score in the second quarter as Seton (7-1 in Div. IV) took a 42-0 lead by halftime.
In between, the sophomore Campanella went from JV player to starting running back on varsity with both of Seton's top two rushers out with injuries, and Campanella showed his quickness as he ran for 70 yards and three touchdowns.
"Anything (Higley) threw at us, we seemed to pick up," Seton coach Rex Bowser said. "The boys up front set the tone."
Bowser said he's hoping "three or four" kids will return to action by Week 10, and whether Bresnahan - who could practice again in about a week - is ready and able remains to be seen.
As he did earlier this week, Bowser reiterated that he'll cross that choice when necessary, a conundrum further muddled because both QBs were/are playing well.
Bowser wasn't complaining, aware of the unlucky QB problems (injury and transfer to Tucson) that Higley has had the past two seasons.
At the end of August camp, the Knights put Mythias Young at quarterback. He and Thomas Bush have had solid success running the ball this season, but couldn't get past Seton's line of scrimmage with any consistency. Bush led Higley with 95 yards rushing, but Higley threw two interceptions, including the one Haggarty returned for a score.
Meanwhile, against top competition (Williams Field, Queen Creek and Seton) Higley (3-5 in Div. III) has been outscored 160-14 during this three-game losing skid.
Seton Catholic 55, Higley 8
Seton 20 22 7 6 -- 55
Higley 0 0 0 8 -- 8
First Downs: Seton 16, Higley 8
Rushing: Seton 22-215, Higley 27-131
Passing: Seton 19-23-243, Higley 1-6-12-2
Fumbles: Seton 1-0, Higley 2-2
Penalties: Seton 3-45, Higley 2-25
SC: Haggerty 15 pass from Gesicki (kick blocked)
SC: Haggerty 30 pass from Gesicki (Garlid kick)
SC: Campanella 8 run (Garlid kick)
SC: Sullivan 1 run (Garlid kick)
SC: Haggerty 32 INT return (Garlid kick)
SC: Campanella 8 run (Campanella pass from Haggerty)
SC: Krick 15 pass from Gesicki (Garlid kick)
SC: Campanella 9 run (kick blocked)
Hig: Cook 28 run (Bush run)
Mark Heller is the East Valley Tribune sports editor. He can be reached at email@example.com or (480) 898-6576.