Queen Creek Hoping to Reverse Recent Trend on Senior Night

1 month ago Andrew Luberda 0

It’s that point of the high school football season when teams that expect to advance in the playoffs are peaking.

At Queen Creek, the opposite is happening, as last Friday night’s lopsided 38 – 3 loss at Highland is the most recent proof that the Bulldog’s are trending in the wrong direction with the playoffs approaching.

Since their 5 – 1 start, the Bulldogs won a closer-than-expected game at Corona del Sol on Oct. 4, 7 – 0. Following the Oct. 11 bye week, they’ve lost two-straight to Desert Ridge and Highland by a combined score of 71 – 17. Queen Creek has turned the ball over nine times in their last three games, which is obviously not included in any winning formula.

Now ranked No. 12 in 6A, the Bulldogs need a win in their regular-season finale at home on Senior Night versus No. 8 Desert Vista to recapture their mojo.

The Bulldogs have made nine-straight playoff appearances with a tenth a near certainty, but they’ll need to perform like they did in the first six games of the season if they have any hopes of being more than one-and-done in the playoffs.

“We’ve prepared more and have focused more on offense,” Bulldogs’ senior running back Jace Bond told CountyLinePreps.com earlier this week. “We are walking through things on offense, so we know what we’re doing (and) we’re not missing our assignments. We’re making sure everyone is on the same page.”

Jace Bond. (Pete Kaupe, @PGKaupe)

Against the Hawks last week, the Bulldogs played arguably one of their worst games in recent memory. They committed four turnovers, including three in the first half, had a punt blocked for the second time in as many games, were outgained 364 – 229, and scored seven or fewer points for the second time in three games. Queen Creek’s 229 total yards were nearly 100 less than its season average of 313 YPG.

“We just had a lot of turnovers and that killed us,” said Bond, who accounted for 100 of his team’s 229 total yards. “I think this week we are mentally prepared and ready for (Friday’s game).”

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED

You can’t do that – Despite the fact that Highland scored only 10 points off the Bulldogs’ three first-half turnovers and a blocked punt, those negative plays reduce the number of scoring opportunities Queen Creek may have had if it keeps possession of the ball.

Trey Reynold (10) tackles Hawks’ RB Daniel Wood (6) during Friday’s game. (Pete Kaupe, (@PGKaupe)

Additionally, it puts added pressure on the defense, which is likely sapped as a result of the extra plays it’s on the field. The latter is a point that Bond alluded to as well.

“Our defense did an amazing job,” he said. “It did the best it could do, but our offense needs to get better. If we can get our offense together, we will be really hard to beat.”

For example – Alluding to the moment above relative to a tiring defense, Queen Creek put together a drive near the end of the first half and faced a fourth-and-two with 1:20 left. After a timeout, presumably to discuss kicking a field goal or going for it, Zane Kaupe hit 32-yard field goal to make it 10 – 3 with less than a minute remaining.

I thought the decision to kick the field goal was a wise choice by the Bulldogs’ coaching staff, especially considering Queen Creek would receive the second-half kick only down one score.

But…

After Highland returned the kickoff to its own 30-yard line, running back Daniel Wood took a screen pass 70 yards for a touchdown to give the Hawks a 17 – 3 lead at the half.

Could the extra plays defensively cost the Bulldogs in the last minute of the half?

Look forward, not back – Ok, I’ve said enough about the negative during the Bulldogs’ last three games. Now is the time to move on and focus on playing better, beginning Friday versus the Thunder.

A win would go a long way toward erasing the disappointment of the last two weeks in addition to entering the playoffs with some momentum and confidence.

Furthermore, Senior Night should provide an emotional boost for the players, most of whom have dreamed of being Bulldogs since they were youths.

“Ever since I was a little kid, I always dreamed about playing at Queen Creek,” said Bond, likely sharing similar feelings of his senior teammates. “I even had my championships at Queen Creek High School when I was playing in the San Tan Youth Football League. I remember having goose bumps and being scared and getting all hyped before a (youth) game, and I still get those feelings every time I (step) on that Queen Creek field with all the fans in the stands yelling and screaming. It’s amazing.”

THREE STARS

Trey Reynolds (10) tackles Hawks’ RB Max Davis (27) during Friday’s game. (Pete Kaupe, @PGKaupe)

No. 3 – Trey Reynolds. Nine tackles, including a TFL.

No. 2 – Ammon Neville. Eight tackles and an INT.

No. 1 – Jace Bond. 180 all-purpose yards.

HE SAID IT

“I’m not trying to have (our season) end on senior night. I’m trying have at least one more game on that field, one more time to say goodbye because I am not ready yet.” – Jace Bond

UP NEXT

The regular-season finale and Senior Night on Friday, Nov. 1, versus Desert Vista. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.