North v. PV

North passes big test

North passes big test, defeats Paradise Valley in 5A division 2 non-region contest


All week long North coach Stuart Goldstein proclaimed this week's game at Paradise Valley to be the schools biggest game in almost twenty years.  Bigger than the playoff game against Hamilton a year ago, bigger than the Metro region clinching game of 2004.  This was a test to see if the Mustangs could defeat a playoff caliber team on the road under the glare of the Cox7 television cameras.  Consider the test aced.


After the huge turnaround a year ago, many thought North would meet their match with a tough non-region schedule that included 5A 1 Mesquite and 5A 2 Westview leading off the season.  After winning those season opening games, the Mustangs came into Thursday nights contest against the Trojans ranked #1 in 5A division2.


The first half was all North.  After an initial three and out series, the Mustangs scored on their other three possessions of the half, leading 21-0.  Wideout/defensive back Ramel Ross was a big part of this.  The senior hauled in a key reception from QB Erik Archuleta to set up North's first TD, made a spectacular catch on the second TD drive to set up another score, and then scored himself on a quick slant from Archuleta for the third.  For the game Ross had 199 yards of total offense  (88 return, 73 receiving, and 38 rushing) and an interception to go with his TD.  Archuleta and Cody Dowd converted a key 3rd and 16 on first drive when Dowd wrestled the ball away from a Trojan defender who had made a potential interception. The North defense, led by Dowd, did a number on Paradise Valley in the half, continually stuffing the Trojan run offense.  When they didn't, P.V. was often shooting themselves in the foot with penalties, especially on first down.


The second half was much more competitive.  Paradise Valley drove down in the third quarter to score and cut the lead to 21-7.  After another North score, this one Dwight Pete's second  TD run of the game,   Paradise Valley's Mike Williams returned the following kickoff back 90 yards to cut the score to 27-14.  A recovered on-side kick put the Trojans in good field position, but the North defense stiffened.  Another score, this one a short plunge by Dowd, and the Mustangs come out with a big 33-14 win over Paradise Valley.


Erik Archuleta, a transfer from Mesquite, showed great leadership on the field as well as a strong arm.  He completed 17 of 25 passes for 157 yards and a score in the Mustang spread offense.  He often operated out of the shotgun and also showed some strong running skills, getting 64 yards on 12 carries.  Archuleta got banged up a bit on a couple plays and North is going to need him to stay healthy.


Dowd is the real thing.  He's this year's version of Matt Clapp, last year's state player of the year from Paradise Valley.  He made numerous big plays on third down and had a sack and two tackles for loss.  Look for him to get a lot of looks from Division 1 schools.  His size (6'3", 246 pounds legit) and football intelligence will take him far.  Right now, Boise State and Oregon State are on him.  Hopefully, some of the in-state schools will take notice.


North plays most of their key players both way.  They're not real deep and can't afford any injuries to these guys.  If they can stay healthy and keep getting performances like Thursday night, they have a good shot to go deep in the playoffs this season. They play at Carl Hayden next week and face an improved Mesa team the week after before region play starts.


Paradise Valley will regroup.  They have some talented backs in senior Tomarcus Jordan and junior Mike Williams.  Williams had a breakout game, rushing for 52 yards, catching 3 passes for 54 yards, and returned another kickoff for 59 yards, almost breaking that one for a second kick return TD.  Sophomore Grant O'Brien started at QB in place of Stuart Walter, who was out with strep throat.  O'Brien showed a lot of courage and moxy in his first varsity start.  He completed 13 of 27 for 148 yards with two second half interceptions.  O'Brien looked comfortable throwing on the run. Wideout Jacob Desanti was his primary receiver with 6 catches. A deep Desert Valley region will be a big test for them.  They should get by San Luis next week and will face a depleted Highland team before region play starts.  


Next week our travels take us back east to Dobson where the Mustangs host Mountain Ridge, off to 2-0 start this season.  The Ridge has terrific receivers in senior Josh Morrow and Deer Valley transfer Tony Paul and will throw the ball often with quarterback Chris Johnston.  Dobson counters with Washington State bound tailback Marcus Richmond, who rushed for over 200 yards a week ago against Cesar Chavez. 


Make sure you tune in on Thursday night at 7 on Cox7, the home of high school sports.

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