Pre-game Notes: The playoffs are here for high school football. The Peoria Panthers are coached by long-time Coach Doug Clapp (in his 25th year) who has built a West Valley powerhouse and this year's 9-1 record with a 4A-1 West Valley region championship keeps this long tradition alive. The Panthers only loss this year game in a poorly played game against visiting Paradise Valley 35-6. Coach Clapp has three-year QB starter senior Vinnie Spano who has thrown for 12 TD's. He runs the offense effectively and it helps that he has RB sensation senior Jamal Miles, who has rushed for 1553 yards and has 20 TD's. His speed and his ability to weave past defenders is a very awesome sight. Coach Clapp knows it's the defense that gets you to the playoffs and his defense has given up only 128 points this season. Sunnyslope saw a five game increase in their win total this year. Coach Tim Mayfield has seen his defense carry the team this year with some good performances. What has returned to Slope this year has been the tradition of hard hitting. Senior lineman John Capriotti, junior LB Jesse McGrath and senior LB Bryce Altaffer provide severe punishment to the opponents. With 16 teams making the playoffs it is a chance for the lower ranked teams to enjoy the playoff atmosphere and live a dream of pulling off an upset.
Recap: Sunnyslope takes the opening kickoff and on their 8th play of the drive score on a 3 yard run by QB Ben Maraz and the Vikings lead by 7. Peoria responds by having RB Jamal Miles run the ball 5 times which sets up QB Vinnie Spano hitting TE Kenry Robinson from 7 yards out but the extra point is missed and Slope leads 7-6. This will be the last lead of the season for the Vikings as Peoria begins the Jamal Miles run-a-thon with Miles scoring three straight times on runs of 24, 3 and 27 yards and the Panthers build their lead to 28-7. The Panthers close out the first half scoring with a Vinnie Spano pass to senior WR Jeremy Dang for 19 yards and that makes the halftime score 35-7 Peoria.
The second half is the opportunity for RB Jamal Miles to add more yardage to his total as on one play he fumbles the ball, goes backwards to pick up the ball and runs for a 17 yard gain, that was the kind of night it was for Miles. Vinnie Spano connects again with Jeremy Dang this time for 24 yards to increase the lead to 41-7. Jamal Miles adds one more score on a 55-yard run that made it quite a night for him. One more score by the Panthers makes the final score Peoria 55, Sunnyslope 7.
Bottom line: A good number of first round games are blowouts and this one was a big blowout. The speed of Peoria was too much for the Vikings. Even though the score was not in doubt late in the game, the Vikings were playing a physical game all the way to the end. Peoria is well coached and the athletes could take this team deep into the playoffs.
Game ball: With 20 carries for 262 rushing yards and 4 touchdowns the game ball goes to RB Jamal Miles. The Panthers kept handing the ball to him and he kept the Vikings grabbing thin air as he went right by them. Honorable mention goes to QB Vinnie Spano for throwing three touchdowns.
Up Next: Peoria plays Millennium.