The Desert Mountain Wolves traveled across Scottsdale on Friday night to take on their rival Chaparral Firebirds.
Both teams went into the game with an 0-2 record, but it was Chaparral that came away with a 34-17 victory, ending their two game losing streak.
The game was more than a rivalry game, as the Chaparral student section was decked out in a sea of purple. Students honored the life of former Chaparral student Natali Conti who passed away from cancer a few years ago.
“It means a lot… it’s an honor to play for a young girl who passed away,” said Chaparral senior linebacker, Parker Walton. “It’s a good feeling when we get the win too.”
In the first drive of the game, Chaparral’s red zone defense came up big as they forced Desert Mountain to settle for a field goal, putting the Wolves up 3-0.
“Defense sets the tone for offense and defense,” said Chaparral head coach Thomas Lewis. “That just gives us more momentum to be able to say, ‘hey we’re going to take shots down field even if we don’t complete it because our defense can come up with stops.’”
Chaparral’s offense struggled in their first drive down the field but came up with a big play to end the drive. On fourth and eight the Firebirds senior quarterback Grayson Barry stepped back to complete a 28-yard pass in the corner of the end zone to senior receiver, Robby Kriske, to put Chaparral up 7-3.
The game was back and forth throughout the rest of the first quarter. On the first play of the second quarter, Chaparral sophomore running back, Marqui Johnson, who is listed as a generous 5-foot-9-inches, ran the ball in for a 53-yard touchdown keeping the Firebirds ahead 14-3.
The momentum was back and forth the rest of the first half, as both teams traded interceptions. Chaparral ended the first half with the upper hand 14-10.
In the second half, senior Beau Kelly and Chaparral came out of the gates firing as he returned a punt 90-yards for a touchdown, furthering the Firebirds lead 22-10.
The Firebirds continued to exert their dominance as senior quarterback Grayson Barry ran a quarterback option down the right side of the field putting the Firebirds up 28-10.
The Wolves answered back coming up empty on their previous few drives. Senior quarterback Austin Nuessel threw a 66-yard bomb down field connecting with junior receiver Joshua Walker who made a diving catch into the end zone in double coverage. Desert Mountain ended the third quarter down 28-17.
Chaparral put the game out of reach when Barry found senior receiver Justin Moyes down field for a 44-yard completion. One play later freshman running back Deavon Crawford put up another score for the Firebirds, giving them the upper hand 34-17.
While the Firebirds emerged victorious, they were plagued by penalties — including five in the second half alone.
“Penalties were a big thing,” said Mr. Walton. “We had some stupid penalties that almost cost us the game, the refs were harsh but we can’t blame it on them.”
Editor’s Note: Ms. O’Carroll is a student journalist at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication.