Titans fall to Bradshaw Mountain

Riley Erickson Arcadia's place kicker and receiver (photo by Jennifer Turelli)

Riley Erickson Arcadia’s place kicker and receiver (photo by Jennifer Turelli)

Arcadia High School’s football team took on Bradshaw Mountain High School for the second time this season in a first-round playoff game on Nov. 6.

The Titans (8-3) won the regular season matchup in August, but Bradshaw Mountain (8-3) won the rematch 21-15, ending the Titans’ season.

“From the beginning to the end, I think they played with a lot more intensity than we did,” Arcadia senior linebacker and captain Dylan Turelli said in Nov. 9 phone interview. “I think they were a lot more ready for the big playoff atmosphere than we were.”

Arcadia Head Coach Lenny Abt says the Titans were unable to execute when they needed to, which ultimately led to a Bears’ win.

“It was really physical and we knew it was going to be a physical game,” Coach Abt said in a Nov. 9 phone interview. “We had our opportunities to win; we just didn’t take full advantage of them. Going into the fourth quarter we were leading. It was a good game; unfortunately it didn’t work out for us. We played hard the whole game.”

The Bears lit up the scoreboard first on Friday, as senior David Otero scored on a 71-yard reception, according to MaxPreps.com.

By the end of the first quarter, the Titans reclaimed the lead thanks to a field goal and touchdown reception by senior wide receiver/place kicker Riley Erickson. Erickson finished the day with three field goals from 35, 36 and 45 yards.

In the second quarter, approximately four minutes before halftime, Bradshaw Mountain junior quarterback Gunner Bundrick found Otero for his second score of the game, this time on a 30-yard reception. The Bears failed to complete a two-point play and led 13-9.

With less than a minute remaining in the half, Erickson put another kick through the uprights to bring the Titans within one point at half time.

After another Erickson field goal, the Titans led 15-13 at the end of the third quarter. Two minutes into the fourth quarter, the Bears answered with a rushing touchdown and two-point conversion to take a 21-15 lead that ultimately stood as the final score.

Coach Abt says the Bears were able to stall the Titans’ offense and force field goal attempts on drives.

“They’re a big, physical team,” he said. “They matched up pretty well with us. Our hats are off to their defense and their game plan against us.”

Coach Abt says it was not something Bradshaw Mountain did differently, but rather, the fact that they executed better that ultimately led to the Bears’ victory.

“It was just a matter of taking advantage of certain opportunities,” he said. “They had fresher legs, I guess, as far as dealing with the injuries on our side. It wasn’t really anything they did differently or we did differently.”

The loss concludes the 2015 campaign for the Titans, a season that was characterized by a ‘Next Man Up’ mentality that was used to overcome injuries.

Although the season is over earlier than the Titans want it to be, Coach Abt says the season is something to be proud of.

“It’s been amazing,” he said. “We have a lot of younger kids in the program on the varsity team this season. From where we started in spring ball to where we finished and all we’ve accomplished dealing with the ups and downs and injuries and kids missing games for whatever reason, we’ve accomplished so much as a team.”

Turelli says although the season can be thought of as a success, there was still some gas left in the tank.

“One of my main goals was to get to the playoffs and play in a playoff game because that’s something none the guys so far have been able to experience,” he said. “I think 8-2 is a really good record and we accomplished one of our main goals which was getting to the playoffs. I don’t think anyone thought we would be in that position at the end of the year. So, I think it was a really successful year but I think that we could’ve done more.”

The Titans will lose key contributors like Turelli, Erickson and senior running back Keon Okyere to graduation, but the future holds promise for Arcadia. In 2015, their leading rusher, junior Ryan Alexandre, went down with a season-ending injury and should be back and ready to run next season. Also returning next season is 2015’s leading passer, sophomore quarterback Luke Ashworth, who grew into his role as the season progressed and should be a solidified leader by next August.

“The bar has been set pretty high by these guys going forward,” Coach Abt said. “Every year you want to improve your program and system. Obviously we’d like to keep playing, but I’m proud of what these kids did this season and I’m looking forward to the future.”

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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