When Route 1 gets you there so fast, it's hard to take the scenic drive.
Time and again Friday night, Desert Edge send 220-pound junior tailback Jeryll McIntosh behind an offensive line that averages around 270 pounds. And on most of those 27 carries, Ironwood had no answer for all that straight-on size and speed.
McIntosh finished this battle of unbeaten 5A West Region I rivals with 260 yards and two touchdowns. That combined with a dominant defense propelled Desert Edge (4-0) to a 41-7 rout.
"Jeryll is a horse and he says, 'Coach, give me the ball,' When a player's asking for the ball, I'm going to give it to him," Desert Edge co-coach Mark Carter said. "It helps that we have a dynamic receiving corps and a phenomenal quarterback. You almost have to pick your poison (against us)."
While McIntosh finished the first half with 161 rushing yards, Ironwood (3-1) entered halftime with 41 yards of total offense. Entering the Oct. 23 game, the Eagles were averaging 44 points a contest.
Start with the senior defensive tackle tandem of 295-pounder R.J. Roberts and 250-pounder Max Garcia and sprinkle in senior cover corners Steven Ortiz and Cliffonte McDowell. That's the foundation of a dominant defense, and the Carter twins are unleashing it in their first year in Goodyear.
"Our goal coming into the season with the type of dynamic defense we have is I wanted to bring pressure at least 65 percent of the game. If you study analytics, most teams blitz about 35 to 40 percent. We're taking it up a notch because high school kids don't see blitzing that much," Marcus Carter said. "And we have defensive backs that we can put on an island."
Junior quarterback Adryan Lara spotted junior receiver Richard Kulik alone in the end zone for a 24-yard touchdown to start the scoring. Back-to-back dashes of 37 yards for McIntosh and 55 yards for Lara set up a one-yard McIntosh score on the next Scorpions drive.
The home team seemed primed to add to its lead before half as McIntosh broke loose for 47, then was stopped at the 1 on his next carry. Following a false start and second-down incompletion senior linebacker/tight end Bubba Mannino-Faison and senior defensive end Steinar Christianson pushed Desert Edge back to the 30.
Sacks by Christianson and junior tailback/linebacker Elias Hernandez closed out another threat and Ironwood entered the half trailing 14-0.
"We have to try to address some of the depth issue we have on our team. We have 16-18 that really take most of the quality snaps for us. We're not very deep," Ironwood coach Christopher Rizzo said. "But if there's one think I've got to take away from that, we've got to do a better job of coaching from top to bottom. It falls squarely on our shoulders. It's our job to make sure our team comes out here prepared and knows exactly what to expect. I just don't think we did a good job of that and that falls firmly on me."
Kulik cut in and Lara hit him in stride for a 41-yard gain on the second play of the second half. Then the Washingston State commit, who was quiet in the first half, threw a near-perfect post to senior Andrew Patterson for a 40-yard score and 21-0 Desert Edge lead.
Ironwood senior quarterback William Haskell, a San Diego State commit himself, returned fire. His frozen rope down the sideline allowed senior Nehemiah Lindo to complete his skinny post and race to a 57-yard touchdown.
So the home team returned to Route 1. McIntosh carried five times for 63 yards on the final drive, capping it with a two-yard score.
Senior slot receiver Junior Shima's kickoff return set up the Eagles with a short field. But Haskell exited the game on this drive with an injured ankle, and senior tailback/safety Elijah Sanders could not punch it in from the Wildcat.
Sanders also came out of the game late in the fourth, and Haskell was on crutches with ice on his right ankle. But Rizzo said both of their exits were more of a precaution than a long-term injury.
"We don't really have a backup quarterback on our roster. We're fortunate to get as far as we did with Will not taking a serious injury. Next week we have a couple sophomore transfers that will be eligible (Isaiah Meza and Connor Monahan)," Rizzo said. "That will be a huge lift off our shoulders because you kinda have to protect a guy like Will. If something goes down offensively, you don't have much left. Elijah was more tired because he never comes off the field for us."
Junior slot Fabian Lopez capped the Scorpions night. He caught an 18-yard out for a touchdown.
Then Lopez gave McIntosh a breather and carried three times for 29 yards and a two-yard score.
"We want our kids to play fast and free. If you make a mistake, do it at 100 percent. It's our job as coaches to correct it," Mark Carter said.
The Scorpions have an answer and it’s name is Jeryll Mcintosh! @DEdgeFootball feeds the running back all the way down the field for a score. #AZPreps365— AZPreps365 (@AZPreps365) October 24, 2020
3Q 1:35 // 28-7 Desert Edge pic.twitter.com/On13pB72ui