Friday night Horizon traveled to take on their rival Paradise Valley in the Desert Valley Region finale. What started as a low scoring affair in the first half would become an exciting game that came down to the final possession of the 4th quarter.
The 1st quarter was scoreless as both teams struggled to get anything going offensively and exchanged numerous punts. In the 2nd quarter after an interception in the end zone by Paradise Valley DB Jacob Desanti, the Trojans moved down field only to have their drive stall. Senior kicker Eric McClellan came on and hit a thirty-four yard field goal, making the score 3-0 Paradise Valley over Horizon at the half.
The 3rd quarter started much like the 1st half with the teams exchanging punts and not doing much on O. This trend would change when Horizon moved the ball down the field on a nice drive that culminated with a seven yard TD from junior, running back, Gary Cooper. A mishandled snap led to a missed PAT making the score Horizon 6 Paradise Valley 3. Soon, Paradise Valley would counter with a drive that was kept alive by a gutsy 4th down fake punt. After the run for the first down, on the fake, Paradise Valley running back Michael Williams was intentionally face masked, tack on fifteen more yards and now the Trojans are threatening deep in Horizon territory. A few plays later QB Grant O' Brien hits Tightend Zack Morris in the end zone from three yards out. PAT good. Paradise Valley 10 Horizon 6. Three plays into the ensuing Horizon possession, QB Dax Crum finds receiver Reily Sullivan for a sixty-one yard TD strike. This time the PAT is good and just like that Horizon leads early in the 4th 17 to 10. On the next possessions both team's defenses manage to hold the offenses until with 2:24 left in the fourth, Michael Williams busts off the right side and out runs the secondary for a fifty-four yard score. PAT good. Paradise Valley 17 Horizon 13. Horizon, on the next possession, ignores the fact that momentum should be on the Trojan side and quickly moves the ball down field. Horizon is helped on the first play of the possession when after a fourteen yard completion, Paradise Valley gets a personal foul. The ball is now in Trojan territory. At this point, the Horizon O-line and RB Gary Cooper take over. 1st and 10, eleven yards for Cooper. Next play, twenty yards for Cooper. Next play, five yard TD burst for Cooper. PAT good. Horizon 20 Paradise Valley 17. Paradise Valley makes it interesting converting a fourth down and then completing a pass to mid field only to have the receiver fumble the ball back to Horizon. With nineteen seconds left, Horizon takes a knee and the victory.
Bottom Line: Both teams will be in playoffs. Horizon at 9-1 should be sitting in the top half of the 5AI bracket. They are a solid defensive team and an opportunistic offensive team. They could make some noise. PV at 5-5 will have to work its way up from the bottom half of the 5AII bracket. They can stop people on D, but will need to move the ball more consistently if they want playoff wins.
Game Balls: Horizon Punter Stefan Demos is a magician in the kicking game. As a punter, he pinned Paradise Valley twice inside the five yard line and also added a punt of sixty yards. Kicking off, Demos had a touchback every time. All night the Trojan O was forced to move the ball on a long field. On offense, Horizon QB Dax Crum and RB Gary Cooper were not dominant but they made big plays when needed. For Paradise Valley, RB Michael Williams and LB Zack Morris are the type of hard nosed team players that every coach would like to have on the squad. Last night Morris played linebacker, tightend and fullback for the Trojans, after having started the season listed as an offensive guard.