Wow!

Shocker in 5A as Marcos de Niza ensures there will be a new champ in 5AII.

Walking into to North Canyon to watch the 5A II semifinals, I expected Centennial to own the line of scrimmage, give the ball to Anthony Hughes and walk away with a two touchdown win. In an ugly game, that saw both teams show the effects of a week off, Marcos pulled out a 16 to 14 upset win over what many consider to be the state's best football program.

Setting a tone for a game that saw the Coyotes post over 100 yards of penalties and three turnovers, Anthony Hughes fumbled during Centennial's opening possession. After a Marcos punt, Centennial would again turn the ball over, this time as talented returner Gary Ross mishandled a punt that was snatched up by the Padres Adam Parlenko near midfield. With a second opportunity in Coyote territory and aided by multiple Centennial penalties including an unsportsmanlike on 4th and eight ,Marcos was threatening as the 1st quarter ended.

Less than a minute into the second, Marcos QB Zach Schira hit Justin Rodriguez in the corner of the end zone on a jump ball score. PAT good, Padres up 7-0.

In response, Centennial looked like the champs, mixing run and pass to move nicely down the field converting multiple third downs and getting big plays from Hughes. At the Marcos' ten, on boot left, QB Dain McFarland hit tight end Austin Garday for a score. The point after was good, knotting it up 7-7 with 6:49 left in the second quarter.

Later in the second, Centennial's Ross redeemed himself in a big way taking a Padre punt back to the house for a 55 yard touchdown, making the score going in at the intermission 14-7 Coyotes.

Whatever was said at halftime, for both teams, did not take as the sloppy play continued in a very long penalty filled third quarter. Overcoming problems on O, the Marcos D, which saw Ramon Abreu make big plays all night, stopped Centennial as Abreu grabbed a McFarland pass setting up an opportunity for Schira to again hit Rodriguez in the corner of the end zone on the very next play for a score. Picking up a penalty on a chop block, Marcos was forced to kick the PAT from the 35. The kick was no good and Centennial held on to a 14-13 lead.

Midway through the fourth, Rodriguez got loose as the Padres were pinned deep in their own territory. Beating coverage, Rodriguez hauled in a 55 yard reception. Mixing run and pass, Marcos was able to set up a 34 yard field goal for Devon Jones. The kick was good putting Marcos up 16-14.

Late in the game, Centennial forced Marcos to punt from deep In their territory. On a very gutsy call on fourth and long, Coach Lopez and crew ran a fake with Abreu. The slick senior did not convert, but he did get the Padres out of the hole. With ticks left on the clock, but no timeouts, Centennial moved into Marcos territory. Just on the edge of kicker Jesse Ortiz' range, Centennial's McFarland took a shot at the end zone for the win. For the third time on the evening, Marcos' Rodriguez showed his ball skills in the corner of the end zone, this time for a game saving pick that allowed the Padres to defeat a Centennial squad many , including myself, had penciled in as champs.

Bottomline:

Wow, It was cold last night! Wow, didn't expect Marcos to beat Centennial! Wow, that was one of the sloppiest semifinals I have seen! Wow, Abreu and Rodriguez can make plays. In an ugly game, the Padres' senior stars were the difference. Marcos gained two things with the win; a surprise berth in the final and potentially getting their bad game out of the way.

Game Ball:

Rodriguez. I have seen him on TV and film multiple times and it did not do him justice. He has great ball skills! I hope it all meshes for him so we can watch him play on Saturday's


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