It wasn’t until after the Phoenix St. Mary’s junior varsity game last Thursday that the real action got started.
The Knights had just defeated Phoenix Central on the road and were about to pull the buses out of the stadium when a car and its two passengers plunged upside down into the canal near 7th Street that separates Phoenix Brophy from Central High.
St. Mary’s players began screaming from the bus, while Knights JV coach Ray Pacheco and assistant Joe Ortiz Jr. jumped a high fence and ran down to the canal.
“I thought they were screaming about the game,” Pacheco said.
Without nearby lights and battling murky water, Pacheco waded into the canal, thankful it was only four or five feet deep with little current.
Though upside down, the car’s headlights were still flashing, providing the only light.
“We could hear them pounding on the doors and the roof, and rocking back and forth,” Pacheco said.
Pacheco managed to find the doors and busted opened the car doors from the outside as the water rushed inside. He pulled a man and woman — both in their 30s — from the car and pulled them out of the water before police and paramedics arrived.
Pacheco said the ordeal lasted two or three minutes, and both passengers had bumps and were bleeding, but were otherwise fine.
With his clothes drenched, he got on the bus to his players’ roars of approval.
“Victory!” he shouted when he got back on the bus, a reference to the movie “300” which he used in his pregame speech to the team.
“It was a quiet ride back to school,” he said.
Pacheco has worked for 28 years at the Department of Public Safety, and recalled another incident in the early 1980s in which he pulled a man out of a burning semi-truck lying on its side.
“I’m not a hero,” he said. “All in a day’s work.”
MORE ST. MARY’S
St. Mary’s quarterback Phillip Losada has been injury plagued throughout high school, and there’s a chance his latest injury will end his prep football career.
The senior, who has twice had surgery after tearing his ACL, went under the knife for a third time Thursday, this time to repair cartilage damage in his knee. All three surgeries have been on the same knee.
Losada suffered the latest injury two weeks ago in his first varsity start on a non-contact play against Anthem Boulder Creek.
Knights coach Pat Farrell said it is unknown how long Losada will be out.
“We’ll see what the doctor recommends,” he said, “but it will be an extended period of time.”
MARCOS DE NIZA
While Harrison Evens is usually the first player mentioned in conversations about Tempe Marcos de Niza, the Padres showed last week their first-class talent level extends far beyond their star running back.
Evens, who scored three times in Marcos’ season-opening win, was kept out of the end zone Friday against Glendale Ironwood and touched the ball only five times. Still, the Padres racked up 63 points, the most they have scored under fourth-year coach Roy Lopez.
“We have a few weapons,” Lopez said. “With (quarterback) David (Viel) and (running back) Donald (Richardson) and Harrison, our 1-2-3 punch, they’ve been feeding off each other for awhile.”
Richardson accounted for four touchdowns, two on passes from Viel, and Viel also ran for three scores.
Lopez said his game plan wasn’t to keep the ball out of Evens’ hands, but with Ironwood paying so much attention to him that’s just how it worked out.
“When they bracket him, put three guys on him or shift over the whole defense, we’re going to take advantage,” Lopez said.
“We didn’t rest him. We just took what they gave us. . . . It was good to spread it around, to see that we could do some different things.”
Still at the helm
Chandler quarterback Payton Lacivita, who suffered a mild concussion in last week’s loss to Mesa Dobson, was cleared to play Wednesday and will start against Phoenix Desert Vista tonight. Two other starters won’t play — linebacker Ammon Samia and defensive lineman Terry Williams. Both have shoulder problems.
Chandler Hamilton coach Steve Belles isn’t pulling the plug on his two-quarterback rotation after Gerell Robinson’s tough start against Peoria Centennial last week.
“It was one of those things,” Belles said. “It ended up being JP’s (Peters) night. We are not going to abandon it. Even if JP is quarterback, Gerell can help us at receiver.”
Robinson has completed 9 of 16 passes for 194 yards and two touchdowns. He also has 103 yards rushing and 141 yards receiving on seven receptions. Peters is 19-for-28 passing for 303 yards and four TDs.
DOBSON’S ONLY LOSS
Mesa Dobson starting linebacker and special teams standout Nathan Horgash suffered a lacerated liver in the team’s win over Chandler last week. Horgash was released from the hospital Wednesday. If he returns this season it likely would not be until November if at all. Horgash started at linebacker and also returned punts and kickoffs.
The Arizona Cardinals named Dobson coach Tom DeMassa as its coach of the week for games played Sept. 6-8. Dobson defeated then-No.2 ranked Chandler, 39-0, last Friday. The Cardinals player of the week was Maricopa running back Matt Fierros, who carried 14 times for 279 yards and five TDs in a 45-40 win over Phoenix Bourgade.
Gilbert will play its game against Sierra Vista Buena tonight without running back Parker Heywood, who suffered a concussion early in last week’s loss to Tucson Salpointe. Heywood is the team’s leading rusher with 151 yards on 22 carries.
Tribune writers Les Willsey and Matt Paulson contributed to this report.