Arcadia Titans to take on Spartans in section play

Arcadia celebrating its win over Maricopa (Photo by Jennifer Turelli)

Arcadia celebrating its win over Maricopa (Photo by Jennifer Turelli)

The Arcadia High School football team will take the field on Oct. 16 after fall break to take on Vista Grande High School.

Although the Titans (5-2) have had some time off from their studies, they have been preparing for a pivotal section play match-up against the Spartans (5-2, 1-2).

Senior running back Keon Okyere making a break for it on the field. (Photo by Jennifer Turelli)

Senior running back Keon Okyere making a break for it on the field. (Photo by Jennifer Turelli)

“They’re a pretty balanced team,” Arcadia head coach Lenny Abt said of the Spartans in an Oct. 13 phone interview. “They run the ball well, they throw the ball well. They’re a well-coached team. They bring different challenges like every team does.”

One of the bigger challenges facing the Titans is replacing their leading rusher, junior Ryan Alexandre, who suffered a season-ending injury. Alexandre has 634 yards and eight touchdowns on the season.

Sophomore quarterback Luke Ashworth says although he feels extra pressure with the top running back gone, he is confident in the new face in the backfield.

“I know that we have a senior, Keon Okyere, that’s going to step up,” Ashworth said in an Oct. 13 phone interview. “He played well against Maricopa and showed that, for the rest of the season, he’s going to step up for this team. We’ll be able to bounce back from (Alexandre’s injury).”

Coach Abt says the injury has allowed for other players to have an opportunity to help the team.

“(Alexandre) obviously meant so much for us offensively,” he said. “We have the mentality like you hear all the time: next man up. Keon Okyere has really stepped up, we put other guys in those spots and we’re trying to keep the status quo, having a good balance between running and passing. We’ve asked everyone to step up and so far they have. It’s a void to fill and we have guys that are stepping up and taking the spot and working hard.”

The balanced-offense approach has proven to be successful for the Titans this season, as they sit at 5-2 with three games remaining.

Through its first six games, Arcadia had thrown the ball for 814 yards on 112 attempts and rushed the ball for 664 yards on 150 carries. Alexandre accounted for 70 percent of the Titans’ carries (105) and 95 percent of their yards on the ground (634).

Ashworth says the Titans are looking to rally around Alexandre’s injury and play as a team moving forward because they have a chance to host a playoff game.

“We need to win out,” Ashworth said. “We need to win the rest of our games and if we do that then hopefully we’ll have a home playoff game and hopefully make a run.”

The Titans’ last three regular season games are against teams with a combined record of 9-12. In their last two contests, the Titans take on opponents that currently hold records of 2-5.

Coach Abt says the Titans need to stay focused and well-rounded in order to make the playoffs a reality.

“We need to prepare well each week in all phases on the field and play four quarters of football,” he said.

Scottsdale Independent Sports Correspondent Justin Maskulinski can be contacted at jmaskulinski@newszap.com. Follow him on twitter at twitter.com/Maskulinski.

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