The new kids on the block are pretty good.
Let’s make this clear: It has nothing to do with early 1990s boy bands. None. Zero.
It has everything to do with Williams Field and Perry.
Last year’s first foray into a real varsity football schedule was a success for both teams, especially Williams Field. The Black Hawks lost to conclude the regular season and in the first round of the 4A Division II playoffs, but a 9-win season should yield only adulation.
That included a big win against Notre Dame, similar to what the Black Hawks did again Friday night in their 21-16 win against the Saints. This time, the Black Hawks won without starting running back Alex Howard (529 rushing yards, 8 TD) who sat out the game for what Campbell called “pretty minor” school-related disciplinary reasons. Howard will play next week.
Notre Dame remains a bona fide contender in 4A-II, and Williams Field is again after only 1 1/2 seasons of varsity competition.
“I always laugh when playoffs are team goals, or this is where you want to be at ‘X’ point, but how do you know?” Campbell said. “It’s constantly moving. It’s not something you can project. Every coach wants the program to be this far at this point but it’s too much and too far out to project. It doesn’t make sense to try.
“I didn’t know one kid when I got the job, so how would I know where we’re supposed to be? If we didn’t have these kids at this time, who knows.”
Playing the hindsight game, there’s no doubt Campbell and Perry coach Preston Jones entered into a favorable situation. If for no other reasons than the population boom and subsequent attendance boundaries that were drawn along the San Tan area through Chandler and Gilbert. The schools’ openings also meant most of the kids were sophomores and juniors getting gobs of varsity experience last season.
Perry followed a similar route to last season in 5A-II. The Pumas won big early but struggling in the difficult East Valley region games and winding up as a sacrificial lamb to Chaparral in the first round of the playoffs.
That changed Friday night when the Pumas beat Marcos de Niza, 23-17.
Campbell scoffed at setting tangible competitive goals coming into a new program, but Pumas coach Preston Jones and his team have made it no secret this year’s goal is to host a playoff game. Being in the Chandler district has helped in terms of both student populations and resources, but the Pumas still lacked the size andspeed of Marcos.
On paper, that is.
In reality, the Black Hawks and Pumas both established themselves as legit, and the Pumas win feels more impressive considering the beating they took last week (50-0) at the hands of Chaparral.
The Firebirds are in a world of their own, but two new schools down south have made in-roads at warp speed, and Friday’s wins only reinforce that time needed to build is forever intangible, but beating some of the best only winds the clock forward.
“We never said where we have to be or have to do,” Campbell said. “It’s game 6 on the schedule. Yeah, it’s a great team and awesome to get the win, but it can’t make or break the season. If the kids buy into it then we’ll be successful, but it wasn’t like putting a timeline or deadline would do any good.”
Works Goes Home
McClintock starting tackle Richard Works was back home resting Saturday, a day after he suffered a back/neck injury trying to block on a running play in the Chargers game against Queen Creek.
Works took a knee into his helmet when a Queen Creek player tried jumping over the pile, and the angles caused his head to snap — “It was clean, there was nothing malicious whatsoever about the play,” Chargers coach Mike Gibbons said.
Works never lost consciousness, but with weakness and numbness on the right side of his body, he was on the field about 45 minutes before being taken to Scottsdale Osborn Medical Center. Works’ MRI and CAT scan tests came back clean, and they sent him home late Saturday morning.
It’s way too early to tell when Works would resume football activities or be back in the lineup.
“He was a jabber-jaw again (late Friday night),” Gibbons said. “He was jawing away and asking about the game. “...We’re blessed. It could have been catastrophic.”
Red Mountain missed one big test a couple weeks ago in falling to Brophy, but the Lions will get another when high-powered Chandler — fresh off its bye week — comes to Power Road. Two losses in the Fiesta Region pretty much eliminates hope of a region championship.
Desert Ridge takes it high-powered offense to Ahwatukee for a East Valley region matchup with Mountain Pointe, also coming off a bye week. The Marcos de Niza loss to Perry on Friday just made this region more interesting. Perry and the Pride unbeaten and Marcos and D-Ridge with one loss each.
Cactus Shadows hosts Saguaro in what’s easily the best game in 4A and a big-time Desert Sky matchup, with a meeting between East Sky contenders Arcadia and Notre Dame (at Scottsdale Community College) not far behind.
Desert Vista: The Thunder should beat Corona del Sol next week, and then it gets real dicey in the final three weeks (Chandler, Red Mountain, Brophy), but even those games should yield enough points to make the Thunder playoff contenders. D.V.’s results haven’t matched its talent the past few years, but after a 2009 swallowed quickly by injuries and off-the-field issues, the (finally) healthier Thunder (4-2, 1-1 Fiesta) have doubled last year’s win total, won a region game which they didn’t last year and have been sharp after halftime.
Higley: Speaking of a year making a difference, Higley was basically the 4A-II version of Desert Vista’s struggles last season. An 0-3 start to the season included narrow losses to Queen Creek and Apache Junction, but the Knights have won three straight in convincing fashion. After Tempe next week, the schedule gets daunting again (Notre Dame, Williams Field), but with the dynamic Kelvin Fisher healthy this season and a pretty good defense, Jim Beall’s group hasn’t looked this good since the 2006 team that went to the 4A-II championship game.
Corona del Sol: It was going to be an uphill from the start after what happened surrounding the program this summer, and, yes, the Aztecs lost a lot from last year, but the Aztecs are getting blown out of the water against good — not great — teams. It hasn’t been competitive since they beat Desert Mountain in the season-opener. There is talent on this team, especially up front, but, fair or not at this particular juncture, it’s hard to wonder about the kids’ mentalities or if another change is coming.
Notre Dame’s offense: Credit Williams Field for making the plays (and not giving up the big ones) to win this doozy of a game, and the Saints are still a really good team with a chance to make another deep playoff run. This Flashbacker wasn’t a math major, but 460 yards of offense yielding 16 points isn’t a good ratio, and in a 21-16 game, it was all the more frustrating for Scot Bemis’ team.