In front of a rowdy homecoming crowd against a district rival, Campo Verde managed to squeak by Gilbert on Friday night to keep its undefeated season alive, 24-21.
Last year, the Gilbert Tigers ended Campo Verde’s undefeated streak when they beat the Coyotes 34-3 at home. This year the end result was very different.
“They came in with a leading rusher, pounding the ball very well and that was our goal we wanted to stop the run,” Gilbert coach Derek Zellner said. “We felt if we could stop the run and force them to throw that would give us an opportunity to put ourselves in position to win.”
Zellner said the Tigers came in this year with the same goal, but Campo Verde junior running back Caden Calloway had different plans.
The Coyotes rode Calloway all the way to the finish as he carried the ball 35 times for an astounding 278 yards, two touchdowns and one fumble.
After the game, Calloway credited the offensive line.
“Our line made every block, they were hitting hard and they were opening the holes,” Calloway said. “There was so much room to run and they made me look pretty good.”
“Caden, he’s a warrior, he’s a wrestler, he’s just a stud,” Campo Verde coach Max Ragsdale added. “He’s just a kid who’s humble and just goes out there and lays it on the line every week. He’s a great kid.”
On defense, the Coyotes forced four turnovers. Seniors Jayden Fletcher and Ryan Sunga stepped up and helped Campo Verde force three fumbles and one interception.
Sunga credited the defense’s stellar performance to a team effort.
“It’s our team chemistry,” Sunga said. “We’re all super close. We all understand what we’re doing and whether or not we’re communicating and that’s how we succeed.”
Ragsdale believes the team’s preparation during this week of practice helped the defense lock in during the game.
“We just prepared really well all week,” Ragsdale said. “Kids bought into it. We broke down a few times, but when you’ve got that good of a talent at quarterback, he’s gonna make you be bad.”
University of Arizona commit Will Plummer was a big reason as to why the Tigers kept the game close. Down three points on their last drive of the game, Plummer led the Tigers to Campo Verde’s 5-yard line. But on second and goal the Tigers ran a designed quarterback keeper for Plummer. Campo Verde junior Dylan Dewald forced a fumble to secure the win for the Coyotes.
Plummer finished the game completing 25-of-38 passes for 274 yards, one touchdown and one interception. Plummer was also active on the ground as he rushed 9 times for 16 yards and two more touchdowns.
Next week Gilbert (3-3, 0-1) will look to get back in the win column on the road at Williams Field (4-2, 1-0).
Even while undefeated, Ragsdale believes Campo Verde can still improve before looking to extend its undefeated season next week at Maricopa (3-3, 0-1).
“We got to get rid of some mental errors we had, both running and throwing the ball,” Ragsdale said. “Last year people called it (the San Tan Section) the SEC of 5A and it’s working out to be that way again. We just keep beating the hell out of each other.
“It’s going to be another tough task next week at Maricopa.”
CV 17 0 0 7 –24
GHS 0 7 7 7 –21
CV –Calloway 9 run (Olayo kick), 10:10
CV – Olayo 17 FG, 4:31
CV – Roderick fumble recovery, 4:09
GHS – Plummer 26 run (Uvaydov kick), 1:50
GHS – Plummer 3 run (Uvaydov kick), 2:33
CV – Caden Calloway 6 run (Olayo kick), 11:04
GHS – Plummer 10 pass to Smith (Uvaydov kick), 8:51