New Era of Queen Creek Football Starts with Loss, Promise

3 weeks ago Andrew Luberda 0

The post-Devin Larsen era didn’t start with the optimum results for the Queen Creek Football team, but it did yield a positive glimpse at the Bulldogs’ future despite a 35 – 28 loss at Desert Vista last Friday night in the regular season-finale for both teams.

Sophomore Trey Reynolds made his first varsity start at quarterback and twice led the Bulldogs back from double-digit deficits, including from 21 points down with fewer than 11 minutes left in the fourth quarter. After a 25-yard touchdown by junior Dayson Coleman and later a one-yard scoring run by Reynolds, Queen Creek trailed only by 7 points with 1:53 left, one timeout, and 93 yards away from a tying touchdown.

Reynolds, who passed for 115 yards and ran for 126 more, threw a couple of big completions to Jett Koester and Jace Bond, helping the Bulldogs reach the Thunder’s 34-yard line with just 4.1 seconds left. On the final play, Desert Vista’s Colby Humphrey intercepted Reynolds’ throw to seal the victory.

“I don’t think our kids ever quit all night,” Queen Creek head coach Travis Schureman said afterwards. “The second half we grew up.”

Queen Creek couldn’t have asked for a better start, driving 80 yards and taking more than six minutes off the clock on the opening possession of the game before senior running back Dylan Borja scored from a yard out to give the Bulldogs’ a very short-lived 7 – 0 lead. Desert Vista’s Taron Thomas returned the ensuing kickoff 99 yards to tie the game just 15 seconds later. The Thunder scored a total of 21-unanswered points to take a 21 – 7 lead at halftime.

“We challenged our guys at halftime,” Schureman said. “They could go out and make it a game or let them roll us.”

After its defense forced a three-and-out, Queen Creek capped off it first possession the second half with Reynolds’ first of two second-half touchdowns, a one-yard run with 7:10 left in third quarter to cut the lead to 21 – 14.

Desert Vista responded again with 14-unanswered points on a pair of touchdown runs by freshman Devon Grubbs, increasing its lead to 35 – 14.

 

 

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED

Injuries are piling up – Already without Larsen for the remainder of the season, Queen Creek was without leading receiver Ryan Dobbs for the second-straight game and two-way starter Christian was only used on defense albeit sparingly with a shoulder injury.

The list of injured players increased by one after leading tackler Zane Lalama was on crutches after halftime. It was later announced the junior linebacker will miss the rest of the season with a significant knee injury.

Dobbs will return for the playoffs, as will Fuhrman, but the latter will only play on defense going forward.

Trey Reynolds. (Caitlyn Craig).

Reynolds’ Debut – Any prediction of the Bulldogs’ demise for this season after Larsen’s injury were, at least, premature. As some suggested, Reynolds represents a different dynamic for the offense with his ability to be another threat running the ball.

He completed 9-of-19 passes but showed enough promise that even just another week of practice and the return of Dobbs should lead to his improvement in that area. He led the Bulldogs to within a play on the final drive to tie the game, which was impressive for a sophomore making his first varsity start.

“The kid is a competitor,” Schureman said. “He’s going to do everything it takes to be good and we’re excited about what he brings and what he’s going to do for us.”

Negative plays – In the first half, Queen Creek had too many negative plays, including a pair following a first down at their its own 38-yard line in the second quarter. That sequence left them with a 3-and-16. Not a down-and-distance the Bulldogs wanted to be in with an inexperienced quarterback.

On the other side, it could be argued that Desert Vista shouldn’t have been in the position for Queen Creek to be able to tie the score in the final minutes.

The Thunder had first-and-goal at the Bulldogs’ four-yard line with 45 seconds left in the first half with a chance to increase their lead to, at least, 24 – 7. Instead it let the clock run out without any points, leaving the score, 21 – 7.

THREE STARS

No. 3 – Armando Orona. Team-high 11 tackles.

No. 2 – Dayson Coleman. 65 yards and a TD on 7 rushes, an average of 9.3 yards per attempt.

No. 1 – Trey Reynolds. 241 total yards and two TDs.

HE SAID IT

“We’re never going to be satisfied with losing at Queen Creek.” – Schureman.

UP NEXT

“I think everyone has written us off at this point, but we’ll get back to work and get ready for the playoffs,” Schureman said.

The No. 7 Bulldogs (7 – 3) will host No. 10 Red Mountain (8 – 2) on Friday, Nov. 2, in the first-round of the 6A State Championship playoffs. The Mountain Lions are the 6A East Valley Region Champions after finishing undefeated in five region games.

Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.