November 5. 2004
Things are different this time around, but when Fountain Hills meets Queen Creek for the second time this season, will the result be different? The two teams will find out when they face off in the first round of the 3A state playoffs today at Queen Creek.
The Bulldogs won the first meeting between the two teams, 29-27, when the Falcons could not convert a twopoint conversion in the final minute. In that first meeting, Queen Creek was riding a six-game winning streak, while Fountain Hills was coming off its first loss of the year, a 24-0 defeat at topranked Coolidge.
Now it’s Fountain Hills riding a win streak, albeit a modest three games, and Queen Creek coming off losses in two of its final three games.
"Our kids are fired up to play them again," said Fountain Hills coach Jim Fairfield. "We had just got done playing Coolidge the week before and we were beaten up. Now, we’ve won our last three games and they’ve lost two of three."
Queen Creek dropped from a topsix seed to a tie for seventh after its surprising loss to Seton, 14-13, in the regular season finale. The Bulldogs were tied with Show Low and Fountain Hills for the seventh seed in the playoffs. After Show Low won the tiebreaking coin flip, Queen Creek was given the eighth seed, and the home-field advantage, due to its earlier win over Fountain Hills.
"It’s tough to beat a team twice in a year," said Queen Creek coach Curt LeBlanc. "I think out of all the games in 3A, ours has to be one of the most exciting."
The Bulldogs moved the ball effectively on the ground in the first meeting, with Bryson Penrod rushing for 111 yards. Queen Creek pounded the middle of the Fountain Hills defense with quick-hitting running plays.
"We didn’t have our middle linebacker, and a starting defensive tackle, and those two guys would have made a big difference," said Fairfield. "They are probably going to try to run the option a little more."
Fountain Hills will need to shore up the middle of its offense, as well as the defense. Queen Creek’s Andy Wickizer made several big plays from his nose guard position, including a sack on a key third-down play and a fumble recovery.
"He caused us a little problem last time," said Fairfield. "We adjusted to keep him out."
Fountain Hills will likely stay with the same offensive game plan as in the first meeting. The Falcons hope to eliminate the mistakes that ultimately cost them the first time around.
"We’re not looking to change anything," said Fairfield. "We ran the ball very effectively in the second half and we’re just going to focus on that.’’