After another tough loss, Arcadia High School will have to fix some issues if they want to turn this season around.
Arcadia has struggled so far this year, losing their first four games and failing to score in two of them. In the 5A East Valley Section, Arcadia is last in points scored with 29 and third in points allowed giving up a whopping 182 points over the year.
That’s an average of 45.5 points allowed per game.
Last Friday, the struggles continued as the Titans fell to Sunnyslope, 29-14. This is Arcadia’s smallest margin of defeat of the season. Arcadia had lost by at least 41 points in their previous three matchups.
Lenny Abt, head coach of Arcadia, explained how turnovers are a huge problem the team will fix in time for their Friday game against Kellis High School. “It all starts with the turnovers,” Coach Abt said.
Arcadia had four critical turnovers against Sunnyslope, with three of them being fumbles. Sunnyslope was able to capitalize on the Titans mistakes, scoring 10 points off turnovers in the first half. If you take the points off turnovers away from Sunnyslope, they would have only had an 11-7 lead at the half.
Staying in games is something that Arcadia has struggled with throughout the season, and keeping the score close at halftime may have given the Titans the momentum and confidence that they needed in order to gain their first win of the season.
Another big problem that Arcadia needs to resolve is slowing down the running game. The Titan’s defense had a tough time stopping Sunnyslope’s junior running back Marlon Noralez, who rushed for 194 yards and two touchdowns.
Arcadia Senior defensive tackle Mekhi Behler explained after the Sunnyslope game how stopping the run was a big issue.
“There’s a lot of things we need to correct, but they did run the ball well tonight,” Behler said.
Behler continued to talk about how the team needs to focus on the basics leading up to the Kellis game.
“We need to figure out our plays, do the right things, fill our gaps, and just play football,” he pointed out.
Slowing down the run will certainly be no easy task against Hellis. They have a powerful running back duo in Josiah Bailey and Damien Campbell. The halfbacks have run for a combined 563 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns.
Arcadia, will be looking to continue to run the ball well against Kellis. Senior running back Ryan Alexandre had a solid performance against Sunnyslope rushing for 131 yards on 18 carries including a rushing touchdown.
Alexandre also stepped up on the receiving end catching two passes from junior quarterback Luke Ashworth including a 59-yard touchdown reception.
Kellis High School will be another tough matchup for the Titans. The Cougars are 3-0 this season and are in first in the 5A Metro standings. They have scored a total of 155 points this season while only giving 44 points on the defensive side.
One of the star players on Kellis is quarterback Kimani Nelson. Nelson has been spectacular this season so far throwing for 421 yards with eight touchdowns and no picks in three games. He’s coming off his best performance of the year against Independence High School where he threw for four touchdowns.
The top receivers are junior Dylan Naylor and senior Tyrese Cunningham. They each have over 100 receiving yards and two touchdowns this year.
The game will be on Friday at Arcadia High School. Kickoff will be at 7 p.m.
Editor’s note: Mr. Stolbof is a student at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism at Arizona State University