Garrett Garcia, Apache Junction High School wide receiver, takes to the air to snag a pass against the Arcadia Titans.
By Isaac Robertson | Intern at AJUSD
It was a big game for both teams heading into the end of the regular season. Both the Prospectors (ranked No. 6) and the Titans (ranked No 16) were 5-3 heading into the match up on Nov 4. This was the second road week in a row for the Prospectors as they were looking to bounce back from a tough loss to the ALA Eagles the previous week.
The Titans, who had not let up more than 21 points for the entire season, were looking to stop the Prospectors’ dominant offense. When asked about how he wanted to deal with this great Titans defense, Coach Bruce Binkley simply stated, “We’re going to score more than 21.”
And on a chilly Phoenix night, the Prospectors kicked off to the Titans at 6:58 p.m. Some great defense by the Prospectors forced an early punt for the Titans as they struggled to move the ball past mid-field. Unfortunately for the Prospectors, a botched hand off resulted in a fumble recovery by the Titans. The Titans, who capitalized on the phenomenal field position, called a QB run for Barylen Rooney who took the ball 2 yards into the end zone for a touchdown. On their next offensive drive, the Prospectors fumbled the ball. The Titans were able to scoop it up and take the ball at midfield. However a great defensive play by Apache Junction halted the Titans and forced them to settle for three points. Issac Delacruz was able to split the uprights and extend the Titans’ lead.
A big scare occurred at the beginning of the Prospectors’ following drive, as star Quarterback Gavin Limongello was tackled awkwardly and appeared to suffer an injury. However two plays later he came right back out onto the field and fired a pass to receiver Garret Garcia for a big gain. This would put an end to the first quarter.
As the temperatures started to drop, the second quarter began and some great defensive plays by Arcadia forced the Prospectors to turn it over on downs near the end zone. However, some great defense dominated the second quarter, as neither team was seemingly able to put points on the board. That was until the two-minute warning when the Prospectors utilized their biggest playmaker Isaiah Savoie as he constantly plowed over the Titans’ defense and set the Prospectors up in a great position to score. With only 35 seconds to go in the half, Limongello created the play of the game. He seemingly dodged and broke free of every pass rusher the Titans through at him, until he was able to scramble away and fire a 22-yard touchdown pass to an open Carlos Juarez. This concluded the half as the Titans kneed the ball out on their next drive.
After some halftime festivities, the second half was underway with the Prospectors taking possession. Carlos Juarez seemingly carried over the momentum from his touchdown and made an impressive sliding catch for a 26-yard gain to start the drive. After some powerful running from Isaiah Savoie, the Prospectors entered the goal line. Savoie once again got the ball and powered up the middle for a seven-yard touchdown that extended the lead to four points after the extra point.
Star running back Quintyn Isabell from the Titans put the team on his back as he single-handedly drove the Titans to the red zone. But once again, the Prospectors did not break and forced another field goal from Issac Delacruz which he made to cut the lead down to a single point.
After a grab over a defender by Garret Garcia for a 40-yard gain, the Prospectors marched into the red zone. Savoie once again found a hole and cut up the middle for a Prospectors touchdown to make the lead 21-13 after the extra point.
Unfortunately for the Titans, a promising drive was cut short after corner back Dane Fidler undercut the throw from Braylen Rooney and intercepted the pass, taking it back for a 65-yard pick 6. As the third quarter concluded with a commanding 28-13 lead from the Prospectors.
The fourth quarter was an eventful one as a third-down pass from Limongello found a wide-open Carlos Juarez for a 33-yard gain. The Prospectors faced another third down, but after Limongello danced around in the pocket, he was able to find Garret Garcia for a 30-yard gain. Garcia leaped high into the air and made a nice grab and shook off some defenders for a first down. After a few more plays, the Prospectors found themselves down to the 1-yard line, where they handed the ball off to Isaiah Savoie as he acquired his third touchdown of the game. This left only 6:25 left on the clock.
The Titans tried to stay in the game, as they drove downfield and got a touchdown as Braylen Rooney found an open receiver down the near sideline for a 21-yard touchdown. After a successful two-point conversion the lead went down to 14 with 6:06 seconds to go.
However, the Prospectors were not phased by this, as they had a methodical drive down field which included a 39-yard pass to Ben Valenzuela. Next came a one-yard power run up the middle to Savoie for a touchdown capped off a long four-minute drive for the Prospectors.
While the Titans were unable to get any offensive production for the final two and a half minutes, a stray dog on the field was. The dog broke free and rushed for a 50-yard sprint into the end zone before being captured by the Prospectors. Perhaps one of these teams will seek to recruit the dog for their final regular season game.
Down by three scores, the Titans turned the ball over on downs, and the Prospectors kneed out the clock to conclude the game 42-21.
This was perhaps the most impressive win this season for Apache Junction, as they doubled any point total a team was able to put up against the Arcadia Titans. This was the definition of a team win, as it seemed all positions and aspects of the game were dominated by Apache Junction.
“The most important thing was the character the kids showed… I had never been around a football team that had that kind of character,” Coach Binkley stated in a post-game interview.
Binkley also praised the offensive line for their great performance and mentioned that the team needed to get healthy before their final game of the season.
Editor’s note: Isaac Robertson is a high school intern who currently covers sports writing for Apache Junction Unified School District. He is a senior at Mesa Virtual Campus, is to graduate this December, and plans to attend ASU with a major in sports journalism.