After an abysmal display by the red zone offense, the Chaparral High School Firebirds’ defense clawed back and shut the door on Sunnyslope High School’s offense.
The final score read 25–0 in favor of the Firebirds but it could have been much worse.
Offensive Line Coach Paul Germinaro said he was not pleased with the offense’s red zone efficiency.
“It is an effort thing down there,” Coach Germinaro said. “It’s probably something we need to spend more time practicing on, but you have to give credit to the defense.”
The game started off with a bang. On Chaparral’s first drive, quarterback Grayson Barry connected with wide receiver Robby Kriske for a long touchdown.
However, the rest of the half was not as pretty. On more than one occasion, the ‘Birds offense stalled in the red zone and could not convert.
At halftime, the score read 13–0 in the Firebirds’ favor. The offensive unit stumbled into the locker room, searching for answers.
However, on the other side of the ball, no such issues could be found.
The ‘Birds defense was lights out. Limiting the Sunnyslope offense to minimal yards and attacking the ball.
Late in the second quarter, linebacker Parker Walton recorded another interception.
Sunnyslope had six drives in the first half — all resulting in punts.
Defensive coordinator Andrew Kahn said he was pleased with the performance.
“I think they played well, but there are always things we can work on,” Coach Kahn said.
The second half was better for the ‘Birds’ offense.
The spark plug? Running Back Marqui Johnson. He finished the game with two touchdowns, one rushing and one receiving.
Johnson said this week felt different than past weeks.
“We came in with a different mindset,” Johnson said. “Especially being 1–3, we should be 4–0.”
Defensive Backs Coach Airabin Justin said the mentality was a big key to success.
“We wanted to pitch a shutout,” Coach Justin said. “We believed that what we were doing defensively would hold them, we believed in the offense.”
The offense picked up the tempo in the second half with Quarterback Grayson Barry finishing with three touchdown passes.
Positivity filled the air after the final whistle sounded at CHS as players cracked smiles and parents cheered. The Firebirds start conference play next week against Notre Dame Prep.
“I think we’ve only scratched the surface of the potential that we have,” Coach Germinaro said.
Editor’s Note: Mr. Smith is a student journalist with the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communications.