A Closer Look
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Senior Night Special: Poston Butte Upsets Seton Catholic in Season Finale
The Poston Butte football team upset then No.7-ranked Seton Catholic last Friday on Senior night, 37 – 21. The Broncos finished with a 4 – 6 record after winning their last game of the season.
Senior running back Carlos Roman rushed for 235 yards on 27 carries with two touchdowns in his final game as a Bronco. Khalil Cooper (JR) rushed for 158 yards on 16 carries with one touchdown.
Both players helped Poston Butte to knocks off the Sentinels, which might have been surprising to some but not those inside the Broncos’ locker room.
“We came into this Senior Night very confident and excited to play,” Poston Butte head coach Dain Thompson said. “Although we were definitely the underdog, statistically and by rankings, we felt like we matched up very well against this team. Our boys were looking forward to the opportunity to play one last night this season.
“This final game was our ‘Senior Bowl,’ knowing that you’re out of the playoffs allows your team to play without pressure, and we certainly played extremely well.”
The Broncos will lose the 16 players after this season to graduation, but they will have 18 returning players next season.
“We will have some returners coming back next year,” Thompson said. “We definitely have some big shoes to fill. Only hard work and dedication will get the 2019 team where it hopes to get.”
Florence Wins Final Game of Season Filled with Growing Pains
Florence football head coach Scott Howard acknowledged he knew his team would experience some growing pains this season after the Gophers defeated ALA-Ironwood in the season finale for both teams last Friday night, 49 – 7.
“Coming into the season, I thought the best we could do was 6 – 4 with such a young team,” Howard told me. “Our goal was to win as many as we could and make the playoffs, but unfortunately, we were derailed by some injuries and making some young mistakes early in the season.”
The Gophers won the three of their last five games after an 0 – 5 start, finishing 3 – 2 in the tough 3A Central Region. Overall, Florence finished the season with a 3 – 7 record.
Florence graduated a lot of players from last season. Young quarterback Christopher Walter, a sophomore, replaced graduated three-year varsity starter Jared Wood. Against the Warriors, Walter had four touchdowns – three passing and one rushing. He finished 13-of-21 for 167 yards passing while rushing for 36 on just four attempts.
“Chris got better each and every week,” Howard said. “He is going to be a really good quarterback.
“We have been blessed with some really good quarterback play over the last few years, and Chris has the opportunity to be as good if not better than Jared. Chris will have a huge 2019 season. He has a lot of targets coming back and he will just continue to keep getting better.”
Junior athlete Joshua Maignan, who rushed for 183 on 16 carries with a pair of touchdowns in Friday’s victory, is among those returning targets.
Entering the year, I thought Florence was one of top-ranked teams in 3A, but it struggled early in the season. Howard vowed the Gophers will be back to where they were a season ago.
“We won’t go out and recruit from other schools, unlike other schools we play,” he said. “We have to develop the kids that live in Florence and want to be Gophers.
“This year we were able to get some young guys a lot of work, which sets us up for next season,” added Howard. “Our goal next year is to win the region and host a playoff game. We will get back to Florence football.”
Florence missed the playoff for the first time since 2015. The Gophers will lose 10 graduated players following this season but will have the 35 returning players next season. For me, Florence will be in the top-10 next season if it continues the improvement it displayed in the final five games of 2018.