Not only was Friday’s game a first-round playoff loss for Horizon High School but it was also the last time many of the team’s seniors would play football.
No. 7 Red Mountain High School proved to be too much for No. 10 Horizon as the Mountain Lions rolled to a 56–24 win, knocking Horizon out of the 6A playoffs Friday, Nov. 3 in Mesa.
After the game, Horizon Head Coach Ty Wisdom was emotional and said this loss was an emotional one for him.
“It always is when you have (26) seniors who’ve done everything they have for this program over the last two years and most of them are never going to play again. It’s where it gets tough,” Coach Wisdom said while fighting back tears.
Red Mountain blasted ahead to a 21–0 lead midway through the first quarter. This leap was a bit of worry, Red Mountain Head Coach Mike Peterson said.
“Any team we jump up on real quick our guys tend to let off a little bit,” he said after the game. “I try and convince them that everybody’s going to fight for 48 minutes and it’s just like we teach our guys.”
The Huskies did just that, firing back with 17 points of their own to cut the Mountain Lions’ lead to 21–17 midway through the second quarter.
Coach Wisdom said during that comeback, his seniors did not give up and his team took advantage of some opportunities to cut the lead.
From that point on though Red Mountain controlled, outscoring Horizon 35–7 en route to the win.
Coach Peterson said going into the game, the goal was to take away Horizon’s running game.
Coach Wisdom said Red Mountain did that successfully, which is what hurt the team in the long run.
The Huskies were also without quarterback Isaac Enriquez, the team’s leading rusher. This put sophomore quarterback Jake Martinelli in the spotlight.
“Jake, our sophomore quarterback, did a nice job but he just hasn’t had a lot of experience,” Coach Wisdom said. “That’s a big-time game for a 15-, 16-year-old kid to go play in as a sophomore.”
With the win, Red Mountain advances to host No. 15 Westview High School, which upset No. 2 Desert Ridge High School in the opening round of the postseason.
While the team was becoming aware of the score of that game over the loudspeaker, Coach Peterson said he did not want his team focusing on that instead of the game at hand.
“I said ‘hey, don’t do that. Let’s just take care of our business and we’ll play whoever shows up. We’ll go wherever we have to go or we’ll play whoever shows up here and it doesn’t matter who it is, we’ll play them,” he said.
As for Horizon, the Huskies head into the offseason with back-to-back years with winning records under Coach Wisdom but no playoff wins.
Coach Wisdom said it’s time for that to change.
“It’s time for Horizon to take that next step and start winning some playoff games and that’s on me,” he said. “At the end of the day, I’ve got to get these guys playing better football in October, November. It’s strictly on me and that’s what we’re going to focus on.”
As for the seniors leaving the program, Coach Wisdom said he is losing a good bunch of kids who had “phenomenal leadership.”
He said he had no discipline issues with his seniors nor did he need to sit any senior for bad grades.
“They just took care of business,” Coach Wisdom said. “I didn’t have to worry about what they were doing off the field. They took care of business off the field, took care of business on the field. That’s what I’m most proud of.”
Around the Horn
Chaparral 17, Williams Field 14 — A defensive showdown saw No. 10 Chaparral edge No. 7 and defending 5A state champions Williams Field with the Firebirds scoring 11 fourth-quarter points.
Chaparral led 14–7 late in the fourth quarter but Williams Field scored after a Chaparral fumble to tie the game with about 4:30 left to play. Firebirds kicker Tommy Christakos clinched the game with 36-yard field goal and the defense held on a fourth-down situation to give Chaparral the ball back with less than a minute to play.
Highland 41, Desert Mountain 21 — No. 8 Highland scored 13 points in the second half while not allowing No. 9 Desert Mountain to score that half in the first round of the 6A playoffs.
The Hawks outscored the Wolves 21–7 in the first quarter but Desert Mountain fought back in the second quarter to put the halftime deficit at 28–21. Desert Mountain allowed a touchdown in each the third and the fourth quarters.
Notre Dame Prep 49, Desert Edge 7 — No. 4 Notre Dame Prep made the most of its first playoff game in five years with solid offensive and defensive outputs against No. 13 Desert Edge in the first round of the 5A playoffs.
The Saints scored 21 in the first quarter and added in 14 in the second and third quarters en route to their opening round drubbing of the Scorpions. Desert Edge’s lone score came in the the second quarter.
Saguaro 45, Mingus Union 13 — No. 2 Saguaro had scored all of its points, including 31 in the third quarter, before No. 15 Mingus Union would get on the board as the Sabercats rolled in their opening-round game of the 4A playoffs.
The Sabercats took to the air to put away the Marauders as quarterback Max Massingale threw for 329 yards and three touchdowns. His favorite receiver of the night was Logan Pettijohn, who reeled in 207 yards and two touchdowns. Saguaro also scored three rushing touchdowns.