For the second straight season the Marana football team played for a sectional/regional title, but unlike last year the Tigers accomplished their goal, beating Desert View 54-12. The win gives them their first postseason berth since 2007 and their first regional title since 1974.
The Tigers left little doubt, scoring on their first drive and taking a 26-0 led into the half.
Sophomore quarterback Trenton Bourguet got the start and led the Tigers to a 7-0 lead, tossing the first of his three touchdown passes when he found Tyson Corner from seven yards out.
Bourguet was 12-15 for 227 yards.
The Tigers exploded for 19 in the second quarter and it could have been more had the Tigers not faltered on a fourth down conversion attempt.
The Tigers second score came on a short field. Marana put great pressure on the Jaguar punter, who had the ball hit the side of his foot. The punt failed to reach the line of scrimmage, going for minus seven yards and to make matters worse, a Tiger defender scooped up the ball and returned it to inside the five. Manny Miranda capped the drove with a two-yard run.
Senior signal caller Connor Leavens threw the first of his three touchdown passes on the next possession, finding B.J. McDaniel on a 10-yard reception for a 20-0 lead.
Leavens, three days after his father’s funeral, was 8-13 for 113 yards.
Late in the half the Tigers went to the hurry-up offense. With Bourguet at the helm the Tigers moved to midfield quickly and made it 26-0 with Dominic Gehr hauled in a slat pattern, made a Jaguar defender miss and won a footrace to the end zone.
Gehr added a 24-yard touchdown reception in the fourth quarter and finished the game with six catches for 129 yards. McDaniel also had a second touchdown catch, going 46-yards early in the third quarter, he had 86 yards receiving.
Down 33-0 host Desert View tacked on a pair of third quarter touchdowns, but their comeback bid was cut short as Jesus Valenzuela caught a 46-yard touchdown pass.
Just as good as the Marana offense was, the defense may have been better. They held the Jaguars to just 175 total yards and had four interceptions. Maybe more impressive is that they held Desert View running back Alex Courtmanche to just 32 yards. He entered the game with over 1,700 yards rushing and 25 touchdowns.
“This has been our goal since the beginning,” said Marana Head Coach Andy Litten prior to the game. “We said before the season we wanted to be playing for a regional crown and make the playoffs.”
The Tigers are now playing for seeding with their regional title and spot in the playoffs secured. They face 6A foe Rincon/University and are looking at trying to host a first round playoff game. The latest rankings were not out by the time the paper went to press, but the Tigers entered the Desert View game ranked No. 7 in the state and should hold steady or even improve. A top-8 finish would assure them of a home game.
Ironically enough, they could face Desert View again, or even face school district rival Mountain View. Both teams are possibilities based upon their rankings.
With their loss to Cienega on Friday, the best Ironwood Ridge can hope to do is to win a share of the 5A Southern Region. Even if Cienega were to fall to Mountain View, it would cause a three-way tie for the region, but the Bobcats would have the edge in conference records.
Cienega won 52-27, scoring the final 24 points of the game.
The Nighthawks jumped out to a 7-0 lead thanks to a Nick Brahler 1-yard run. Brahler, playing in the place of the injured Soma Helu, carried
33 times for 233 yards and two scores.
“We are going to miss Soma, it is a huge loss,” said Ironwood Ridge Head Coach Matt Johnson. “Nick Brahler is just going to have to step up.”
Cienega took the lead a thanks to two touchdown passes from Arizona-bound Jamarye Joiner. He connected with Breaben Bolton on passes of 54 and 46.
Joiner was 9-12 for 223 yards and four scores. He also rushed for 67 yards. Bolton had 181 yards on six grabs, scoring three times.
The Nighthawks tied the game at 14, but the Bobcats scored two more times in the second quarter, though quarterback Nate Gerken scored on a short run to make it 28-21 at the half.
The Nighthawks used a second Brahler run to get within a point, but a two-point conversion attempt went awry and the Bobcats held a one-point lead.
Joiner’s third touchdown pass to Bolton made it 35-27 and three Nighthawk turnovers led to three fourth quarter scores to put the game away.
“They are a great team,” said Johnson. “We have to see what we can clean up before playoffs.”
The loss is the second for the Nighthawks, who still have designs on a first round bye. They entered the week ranked No. 4 and should not see that change much as long as they beat Sahuaro on Friday.
Mountain View vs. Buena
Mountain View kept pace with a 59-6 win over Buena and can clinch a share of the 5A Southern Region and a home playoff game with a win over unbeaten Cienega. Even if they fall to the Bobcats the Mountain Lions will qualify for the post season.
The Lions left few doubts as they scored 36 first half points. Quarterback Cayleb Ryden accounted for over 350 yards of total offense, and five scores. He rushed for one and found Sebastian Spencer and Isaiah Lovett on a pair of touchdown passes apiece.
Spencer had 112 yards on just four carries, while Lovett had 102 on seven grabs.
Pusch Ridge vs. Catalina
Pusch Ridge likely punched their ticket to the postseason with a 49-6 win over winless Catalina. The Lions improved to 6-3 on the season and are currently ranked No. 10 in 4A and play one-win Santa Rita. While the Lions should win, they will not get much of a power points boost from the two teams.
The Lions scored 35 points in the first quarter and never looked back. Mitch Maas opened the scoring with a 60-yard run and led the Lions with 78 yard on just three carries.
Quarterback Christian Fetsis threw for 76 yards on an efficient 4-5 passing. He found Edwin Lovett on a pair of scores and also rushed for two more scores. He had 58 yards on just four carries.
CDO vs. Nogales
The Dorados kept their playoff and region title hopes alive with a 49-35 win over Nogales.
The Dorados finish the regulars season with first place Salpointe and a win over the Lancers would force a three-way tie for first in the 4A Kino Region, which the Dorados would win thanks to a superior record in the 4A Conference. Both the Dorados and the Lancers would have one conference loss, but CDO would have one more win due to having schedule one more game against 4A teams.
A loss to the Lancers would drop them to 6-4, but they would likely make the playoffs, but probably open the playoffs on the road.