Centennial v. Desert Ridge

The Centennial Coyotes might have been looking ahead to next week's big match up vs. Hamilton as they made the trek to the East side to take on relative new comer Mesa Desert Ridge in a 5A Div II match up. The play started slow but heated up as the night went on.

It was Desert Ridge getting the ball first after a Centennial kick-off. Quarterback Josh Cain and the offense got things going with an up-tempo first drive that featured quick-outs, hand-offs and screen plays. Cain hit Josh Tutor on a screen pass for a six yard gain, then completed a quick out pass to Carl Curtis. A nice pass up the middle to Chris Olivas out of the back field moved the chains for a gain of 10 yards. A couple more hand-offs to Olivas yielded small gains along with a quick out pass to Chris Heldore. The Jaguars first drive stalled on 3rd and 4 when Centennial LB Reggie Umuolo came in on a blitz and got to Cain causing him to fumble the ball. Cain fell on it but the play resulted in a loss of 10 yards and Ridge elected to punt on 4th and long.


After a nice punt by Desert Ridge, Centennial started their first drive on their own 2 yard line. The Coyotes large O-line came in and quarterback Scott Burgett started things off with a hand-off to Jeff Hughes who went 15 yards up the sideline to give the Yotes some breathing room. The drive featured several more Jeff Hughes runs including a pitch for 35 yards. Unfortunately, the drive also had several penalties as both teams looked rather sloppy at times during the first half. The Desert Ridge D didn't look that intimidated by the Centennial O as Kevin Henry and Matt Warren both made some nice stops. Centennial elected to go for it on a 4th and 10 in the red zone, but the pass was broken up nicely by Chris Doane.


Ridge went into a no-huddle offense to try and keep the Centennial D on their toes. Cain fired a quick inside screen and a quick out pass before Reggie Umuolo came in on a linebacker blitz and sacked Cain. Ridge punted it away to the talented Jarrell Barbour who promptly returned the punt 20 yards. However, a block in the back pushed the ball the other way on big penalty that off set a nice play. Centennial had the ball 1st and 10 on the Ridge 30 yard line.



It was one step forward and two steps back as penalties continued to plague the Coyotes. A dropped deep pass to Barbour and some nice running by  John Hughes with a big gain of 25 yards finally put the ball on the 5 yard line with 25 seconds left in the quarter. On 1st and goal Centennial tried to punch it in, but the Ridge D held. As the quarter ended the scoreboard read 0 – 0 with Centennial threatening.


On the first play of the second quarter Jeff Hughes took a hand-off between the tackles and scored. The PAT was botched after a bad snap so the score early in the 2nd was 6 – 0 Centennial.


Ridge once again came out firing and looked to be moving the ball well, but two back to back false start penalties put them at 3rd and 20. An inside screen worked for about 19 yards and it was 4th and 1.Cain called his own number on the keeper and DE Jimmie Lewis made the stop to end the drive.


Centennial came back with sloppy play of their own. With the ball on their own 25, they had an incomplete pass, a Burgett sack by Ben Amerson of Ridge, and a holding call on a nice pass play that brought the ball back and set up a 4th and 30 Centennial punt.


After a quick 3 and out by Ridge, Centennial once again tried to get the offense moving, and once again left the door open for Desert Ridge. With good field position on the Ridge 49, Hughes made a nice run and Burgett hit Barbour on a streak play for a short gain. Burgett's next pass was intercepted by Kevin Henry and Ridge once again showed some life being down by only six.


Ridge moved the chains nicely again and had a sustained drive that featured a screen to Heldore, several nice runs by Heldore including a nice cut-back run, some hard running by Olives, and a quick pass to Chris Jamison. With 1:03 left in the half, Coach Hathcock and the Jaguars had the Coyotes on their heels. Looking to score before the half, it was 2nd and five on the 10 yard line when the Centennial D stiffened.  An inside screen to Jamison didn't work. On 3rd and 5, Cain gave a hard count and drew Centennial off-side for the first down. With 26 seconds left and the ball on the 3 yard line Cain took four shots to the end-zone. The first one to Jamison broken up by Jeff Hughes, the second to Carl Curtis broken up by Barbour, the third to Heldore was broken up as well, and on 4th and goal with 16 seconds left, Cain lined up in the shot gun and was flushed out of the pocket. He had Lucas Robinson open in the end-zone but the pass was just in front of him and off his finger tips. Centennial survives the Ridge rally and the score at the half remained 6 – 0 Centennial.



Coach Taylor must have woke Centennial up at half time because the second half was a totally different Coyote team, however the first drive was a three and out and Centennial quickly gave it back to Ridge on a punt.


Penalty markers still flew often in the second half. Desert Ridge's first drive of the second half included four penalties, which negated the tough all purpose yards that Heldore produced. Ridge and Heldore tried to nickel-and-dime the Centennial D, with Heldore lining up in both the back field and in the slot. Once again back to back penalties did them in ending the drive with a 4th and long punt.


Barbour had a nice 20 yard return on the punt, only to see it brought back on a block in the back penalty. Centennial then decided to take over the game on the ground, and featured a series of Jeff Hughes running plays. Hughes had several nice runs to the right side and a couple up the middle to get the ball to the 1 yard line, where Burgett punched it in with a QB keeper. Burgett found the end-zone again as Centennial opted to go for two and the QB ran a right side sweep for the conversion. Centennial up 14 – 0 with 4:21 left in the 3rd.


Ridge had a decent drive once again but could not produce any points for the effort. Josh Bell sacked Cain to start things off, but Cain came right back with a high pass to Heldore who "climbed the ladder" and made a nice catch for a 20 yard gain. Ridge once again faced a 4th down situation and needing points, decided to go for it. Olivas tried to turn the corner on a hand off but Ben Amerson was right there to make the stop and DR turned it over on downs.


Ridge looked to have shut down Centennial on the very next drive forcing a 3 and out, but after a bad snap on the punt, Centennial picked it up and ran for 15 yard and the first down to keep the drive going. The 3rd quarter ended on a pass attempt to Barbour that was incomplete due to a pass interference call. After the play, Barbour shoved Jamison who was in on the play and received a personal foul penalty. With the off-setting penalties it was 1st and 10 on the 36 yard line, Centennial up 14 – 0 at the start of the 4th quarter.


Barbour must have felt the need to make up for his penalty as the first play from scrimmage was a quick in route from Burgett to Barbour, who proceeded to break a couple tackles and run in for a touchdown. The PAT was good and just like that it was 21 – 0 early in the 4th.


Ridge was getting desperate and after some more Heldore runs for decent gains, Cain went back to pass and was pressured and almost sacked by Kendrick McBride. Because of the pressure and near sack, Cain threw up a lob pass that was easily picked off by Umuolo. With the ball on the ball on the 49 it was Anthony Hughes turn as he had several nice runs for 10 plus yards a carry. After a pass interference call on a pass intended for Adam Shipley, Centennial found themselves with 1st and goal when Burgett once again called his own number and went in on the QB keeper. The PAT was good and it was 28 – 0 with 6:31 left in the forth.


Ridge's next possession ended in yet another punt and Barbour once again showed his talent as a return man gaining 30 yards while breaking tackles. Centennial put in backup QB Billy Sanchez and back up RB Kevin Hamilton and with consecutive hand-offs, moved the ball down the field. Hamilton was able to punch in another Centennial score and after a botched PAT Centennial went up 34 – 0.


Desert Ridge playing only for pride and hope of avoiding the shut-out, takes one last offensive effort and put together a late drive featuring more tough nosed runs by Heldore and a big pass from Cain to get the Jaguars into the Red Zone. With time running down, on a 3rd and 8 Cain looked for Heldore in the front of the end zone, but Paul Sanchez picked off the pass and kept the shut out intact.


Bottom line


Centennial's O-line and multiple skill position weapons were just too much for the Desert Ridge defense. Big Zach Schlink and Junior Nieves made holes for the backs and gave Burgett time to throw. Centennial didn't come out very fired up and it made for sloppy play and a lack luster effort in the first half. This week they were able to turn it on in the second half and come away with the win – next week they'll need to play four complete quarters and cut down on the penalties to have a chance against Coach Belles and the Huskies.


Desert Ridge will get better as the year goes along and Coach Hathcock has the team going in the right direction. They have decent talent at the skill positions and are a little under sized on the lines, but they make up for that with hustle. The Jaguars also need to cut down on the penalties and learn how to punch it in when they get to the red zone.


Game balls


Desert Ridge has a star in the making with Chris Heldore, he lined up every where and was a threat every time he touched the ball. The "thunder and lightening" tandem of he and Olivas will produce this year. For Centennial, it was hard to pinpoint one great player on either side. Barbour showed glimpses of greatness as did Burgett at QB. Schlink is the real deal and went non stop the whole game. On defense, I'll give a nod to Reggie Umuolo, who always seemed to be around the ball and making tackles.     

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