According to the respective coaches from Red Mountain and Mesa High, the reason their teams are heading in opposite directions is easy: execution.
The Mountains Lions have it and the Jackrabbits do not.
"It looks to be that simple," a disappointed Mesa coach Kelley Moore said.
Red Mountain's execution led it to a definitive 38-13 victory over the visiting Jackrabbits (0-4) as it had six different players score. Marcus Brantly rushed for 172 yards on nine carries and Mason Thorman added three touchdown passes, 137 yards passing and scored once to lead the balanced Mountain Lions (2-2) attack.
"We had some big plays passing, but it was because our running game controlled things," Red Mountain coach Ron Wisneiwski said. "We were able to controll the line of scrimmage and the clock with our running game."
The hosts scored on their final three possessions of the first half for an 18-0 lead, and then added another score on the first series of the second half to go up 25-0.
Brantley had consecutive runs totalling 73 yards on a late scoring drive in the first half to give Red Mountain the comfortable cushion. His 42-yard run set up the final score of the first half, a 33-yard pass from Thorman to Aeron Carr. The Mountain Lions covered 90 yards in three plays to take the 18-0 lead with 1:21 left in the second quarter.
Mesa responsded with an 80-yard kickoff return from Tyus Smith, but the possession ended with a failed 31-yard field goal attempt.
Red Mountain then went 64 yards in six plays to open the second half, capped by a 1-yard pass from Thorman to Kory Ho.
"After last week's game, we just came together so much better at practice," said Brantly, who had 94 yards in the first half on just four carries. "We know if we can play like we practice we can win every game."
Mesa's glimmer of making it a game in the second half came and went early in the fourth quarter.
The Jackrabbits made it 25-6 on a 14-yard run from quarterback Jeremy Noble. Mesa then pinned Red Mountain deep in its own end and forced a punt from the Mountain Lions' 5-yard-line. The Jackrabbits took over at the Red Mountain 45, but on a fourth-and-five play from the 20, receiver Bryan Hutchinson slipped a yard short of the first down. Three plays later Red Mountain scored on a 4-yard run from Cougar Garcia, set up by a 62-yard Brantley run, for a 32-6 lead with 8:47 to play.
Noble later added a 43-yard touchdown run and finished with 92 yards rushing on 12 carries. Red Mountain's Cody O'Brien scored on a 38-yard run on the game's final play.
"We were scared of their big-play ability, so to control their running game was big for us," Wisneiwski said after his team allowed less than 200 yards for the game. "We wish we were 4-0, but we feel like we are heading in the right direction."