How Queen Creek Got its Mojo Back

1 month ago Andrew Luberda 0

After consecutive losses by a combined 54-point margin of defeat, the then 12th-ranked Queen Creek football team entered last Friday night’s game against then No. 8 Desert Vista needing to regain its confidence heading into the playoffs that begin later this week.

A spirited come-from-behind 43 – 29 victory reversed the trend of the Bulldogs’ last three games and restored the mojo they displayed earlier this season.

“This was a huge win for our program,” Queen Creek head coach Joe Germaine said afterwards. “To finish out the season (this way) hopefully gives us some momentum. A lot of real gutsy, great performances. I’m really impressed with the way we ran the football tonight.”

Damen Cornett (42) picks up some YAC during Friday’s game. (Pete Kaupe, @PGKaupe)

Queen Creek rushed for 223 yards and finished with 464 total yards in the game, following just 229 yards of offense a week earlier.

Quarterback Devin Brown, who struggled during his last three games, bounced backed brilliantly, throwing for 241 yards and four touchdowns without a turnover. The 6-foot-2, 185-pound sophomore was making just his fifth varsity start but displayed the mental toughness not normally seen in a young, inexperienced player at the most challenging position on the field.

“I really think I was just confident,” Brown answered when asked what attributed to his success against Thunder. “We started with that first drive and scored, which was a confident boost for our whole team.

“The line was amazing; I had a lot of time back there, was able to make some plays with my feet. I think it was just our preparation. We put in a couple great plays – a great job by our coaches.”

The Bulldogs’ defense returned to form as well, allowing just eight points during the last two-plus quarters against an explosive Thunder offense.

A turnover-free game by Queen Creek kept the defense fresh and it showed in the latter part of the game, as evidenced by a defensive stop that forced a Desert Vista punt with just under seven minutes remaining in the game and freshman defensive lineman Porter Reynolds’ interception later in the final quarter. 

After allowing 71 points in the last two games – albeit not all against the Bulldogs’ defense – how important was it to get some mojo back before the playoffs?

“Extremely important,” said junior Trey Reynolds, who finished with 17 tackles in addition to rushing for 56 yards and a touchdown on offense. “That’s what we were (saying) all week – it doesn’t matter if we win or lose, we just need to play an outstanding game to go into the playoffs and that’s what we did.”

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED

180° Turnaround – Anyone that watched Queen Creek in its previous three games knows Brown struggled mightily, but he never lost the trust of his teammates or his coaches. After throwing only one touchdown during that span, Brown more than doubled his season total (3) entering Friday’s game. He connected with Jared Bosworth, Keshaun Calip, Dayson Coleman, and Jace Bond on his four scoring throws. Queen Creek trailed 21 – 7 with 3:47 left in the first half. It could be argued the Bulldogs don’t win Friday’s game without Brown’s performance in only his fifth varsity start.

“That’s what we always have to remember – he’s a sophomore,” Germaine said. “We know he’s extremely talented and there’s going to be some mistakes along the way, but we’re going to stick with him, and he sure played great (on Friday).”

Enough is enough – After the teams traded opening-drive scores, the Thunder rattled off 14 unanswered points, including an 80-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Parker Navarro to Elijah Ervin. At that moment, it looked like a repeat of the previous two games, where the Bulldogs were outscored, 71 – 17.

But instead, after trailing 21 – 7, the Bulldogs outscored the Thunder 36 – 8 and really contained an offense that entered Friday’s game averaging more than 410 YPG.

“Coach Kramer has a great scheme,” answered Trey Reynolds, when asked about limiting Desert Vista over the game’s final two-plus quarters. “It’s a great defense for us. We didn’t make very many adjustments, we just told each other we have to play stout. They were outplaying us (early), but we just needed to be (stouter), that’s it.”

Senior Night – 29 seniors were honored before Friday’s game, and although it wasn’t their final high school game, it was still emotional. When the season does eventually end – hopefully with a state championship – most of those 29 seniors won’t strap on a helmet again. To win on their night was a prideful moment for Germaine.

“I was thinking about it (and) reminiscing today about everything they’ve put into this – the sacrifices they’ve made since coming back from Christmas break to the offseason weight program to spring football and into the season with study hall, the long days – it’s a grind,” he told CountyLinePreps.com. “They’ve really paid the price and it’s great to see them finish out the (regular) season like this.”

THREE STARS

Devin Brown (15) looks downfield during Friday’s game. (Pete Kaupe, @PGKaupe)

No. 3 – Jace Bond. 183 total yards, including a 69-yard touchdown reception.

No. 2 – Porter Reynolds. Nine tackles, an INT and a fumble recovery.

No. 1 – Devin Brown. 15-of-24 passing for 241 yards and four TD’s.

HE SAID IT

“It was huge. Two games in-a-row we lost, but (Friday) was a great comeback. It was tough game, and now we’re rolling into the playoffs and we’ll see how it goes from there.” – Brown, on the importance of getting a win and not entering the playoff on a three-game losing streak.

UP NEXT

Queen Creek secured the No. 4 seed in the 6A State Championship playoffs and will host No. 13 Boulder Creek on Friday, Nov. 8. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. at Queen Creek High School’s Ralph Pomeroy Field.