The Apache Junction Prospectors start a sophomore quarterback and a freshman wide receiver/ tailback. They also have a first-year coach in Bruce Binkley.
Normally, this would be the part where a writer mentions growing pains and says something about, “Wait until the kids grow up.”
But not with this football team. Simply put, Apache Junction isn’t acting its age.
The Prospectors improved their record to 2-1 with a 52-29 victory over Estrella Foothills, setting the stage for this Thursday’s 7 p.m. Cox Game of the Week at undefeated Poston Butte, the No. 2 ranked team in the 4A Conference.
It’s a daunting assignment. Poston Butte has outscored its three opponents by a combined score of 158-35. But Apache Junction won’t be cowed; it already has experience taking on a tough opponent, having played defending 4A champ Mesquite and Oregon-commit quarterback Ty Thompson in the season opener.
Plus, as young as the Prospectors are in some spots, they have veterans and leaders to lean on in linebacker/running back Brody Bullard and wide receiver Cameron Garcia.
“I feel like our team is way better than we were week one,” Bullard said. “We’re a whole different team.”
Apache Junction showed that against Estrella Foothills, dominating both sides of the line of scrimmage. The defense picked off Estrella quarterback Ty Perry three times. The offense didn’t commit a turnover.
Except for a bit of a third-quarter nap when Estrella Foothills scored two quick touchdowns to cut AJ’s lead to 33-21, the Prospects were never seriously threatened.
“Our offensive coordinator Dave Moser did a great job tonight … there were a lot of areas that we thought we could attack, and we did,” Binkley said.
Apache Junction got contributions from its usual suspects. Sophomore quarterback Gavin Limongello threw for 220 yards and two touchdowns and rushed for 133 yards and two scores.
Freshman weapon Isaiah Savoie had 13 carries for 13 carries for 126 yards and three touchdowns.
“I don’t look at them as younger dudes,” Bullard said. “I look at them like my peers.”
That’s exactly how Savoie looks at it.
“I don’t feel like a freshman,” he said. “I feel like a teammate.”
Garcia had the biggest play of the game, a 96-yard touchdown reception just before halftime to give AJ a 33-7 lead.
“That play that Cameron made is a 14-point swing,” Binkley said. “That’s just a great job. We wanted to run the ball to kind of set them up and we did, and their safety jumped and Cameron went over the top. That’s great players making great plays.”
Apache Junction moved up to No. 18 in 4A with the win. A victory over Poston Butte would jump the Prospectors much higher in the rankings.
Editor’s note: Scott Bordow is the director of communications and community engagement for Apache Junction Unified School District.