Parker High School senior running back Anthony Taylor gets rid of Camp Verde senior Matt Loza’s tackle attempt. Taylor, who hit a four-yard touchdown in a 36-16 win over the Cowboys, is one of Conference 2A’s top scorers and joins teammate Cameron Poole among his top 10 rushers. (George Werner / AzPreps365.com)
For the first time in half a century, the state football title is at stake for Parker High School.
To recover Cameron poole demonstrated why in their Agua Fria region opener on Friday October 8, rushing for the opener less than four minutes into the game and then catching the next touchdown under two minutes more late to leave Camp Verde, 11th in the standings, in the dust, 36-16.
“We also win the next three,” said a Confident poole said after combining with another trio of Parker backers to score their first 30 points and rush over 300 yards on the ground. “We go state, and we win.”
The Head Coach Jeston Lotts isn’t one to publicly disagree, knowing that since they won the Colorado River Kids High School Championships and even the Pop Warner Leagues under 10, his senior squad could finally be the successor to the back-to- returning 3A state champions in 1970 and 1971.
“Last year we also had a really good team – our juniors just didn’t have enough experience,” Lotts said. “We just keep them anchored. All summer we talked about winning a state championship.
That discussion ended two months ago, when preparations for their first win against Gilbert Christian High School began. Then, after a 36-point victory at Tonopah Valley, the victory at Conference 3A rivals Wickenburg was the focus. It paid off with a touchdown in overtime, Parker’s closest game of the season.
“Now in the regional game we want to win the regional title. It’s the only thing we’re thinking about right now, ”Lotts said. “The mentality of this group is ‘the next game’. I just win every week.
It’s a mentality that could prove to be permanent among the Broncs, at least this fall, after the Colorado River Indian tribes. rejected Parker’s COVID-19 mitigation proposal on September 29 for home games at their stadium.
On the heels of the Broncs ’22-point win to open October at second-placed Arizona Lutheran Academy, the decision complicates the rest of Lotts’ Agua Fria area schedule, even though these last three opponents are not ranked higher than 30th in 2A. – well outside the playoffs.
The main challenge for Parker may no longer be a single conference opponent who can slow his progress to his first state football championship in 50 years. The challenge becomes to beat all the other scheduled opponents on the road.
“We want to come out and prove that we are the best team in the state every night,” Lotts said. “There are a lot of good football teams out there; we are just touched and honored to be part of this group.
Lotts is therefore always looking for his Broncs to better close his opponents and attack lower.
“Pad level, turn it on,” he said. “We’re playing a bit too high; we have to play lower.
Camp Verde is the closest of any 2A squad so far – although the Cowboys were left out until less than 2.5 hours to play in the game and returned against Parker’s defensive reserves on the bench.
Before this return, Poole’s performance led a dominant display on both sides of the line of scrimmage by the top-ranked team in the conference, who scored in the first seven offensive games after winning the first kick attempt in front of Camp Verde on the 50 yard line.
Gaining ground in 10-20 yard pieces provided by fellow senior backer Anthony Taylor, Poole hit in the opening score one meter.
Although Taylor missed the two-point conversion transfer after Poole’s first score with eight minutes left in the first quarter, Parker would recover his subsequent free-kick attempt. Sophomore Bryan Bojorquez gave a Camp Verde upman a hard blow in the hands of a Bronc at Cowboy 47.
The next 35 yards, second-year full-back Thaddeus Nopah supported Taylor in pull, trap and block games as part of a Wing-T formation discovered by offensive coordinator Kyle Carlson of the training manuals. from the University of Delaware, nearly a century old.
It’s also an offensive philosophy in the Parker program which has brought in nearly 380 rushing yards per game this fall.
“We always say to people, ‘We are bringing football back to the 1930s,'” Lotts joked. “Coach Carlson, our Wing-T guru, does a great job with our trainings. All the credit goes to him.
Just as Camp Verde head coach Rick Walsworth was bracing for another such call, 6-foot-3 second-year quarterback Zach Bennett rolled left and found Poole in space, on a loop pattern. He managed to stay upright and extend the ball past the goal-line pylon with 6:25 a.m. to go in the first quarter, and Taylor powered two point conversion in this time for the advance of two touchdowns.
“We only run about eight games, and we run them in different formations,” Lotts said. “We are waiting to see what the defense will do, and then … Bam!” ”
For the next 15 minutes, behind the two-way senior leadership Jacob Oothoudt, Camp Verde settled in and stayed in the game. At least until less than four minutes before half-time, when junior reserve half Gage Honomichl’s the number has been called at the Cowboy 9-yard line.
“We have a good backfield, with backups that will perform as hard as the newbies,” said Poole. “We’re No. 1, so we keep our foot on the pedal and we go through everyone. We are not going to stop; we’re just going to keep rolling and rolling.
Oothoudt would get the unsuccessful offense in the final half-time practice, connecting with senior wide receiver Wyatt Parker for the Cowboys’ first try and even having a shot in Parker’s end zone since his 5 . But his unfinished fourth down meant Nopah’s two-point conversion was the last half-time goal – and Camp Verde entered their home dressing room in skunk, 22-0 at halftime.
Despite the failure of another two-point conversion with 2:20 left in the third quarter, Parker appeared to have finished Camp Verde, especially after recovering from a mid-flight fumble from Ezra Martinez. sloppy transfer between Oothoudt and Kayden Boggess, a Top 10 rusher in 3A.
“We will do it this year. This is our year, ”said Poole. “Since we started lifting weights this summer, that has been our goal: State Champions. “
Switch to the end zone with less than three minutes left in the game, however, was 220-pound senior offensive lineman Abraham Silva on a guard-eligible scramble – what Poole called a sort of “statement.”
“Abraham has been a starter for us since he was in second year,” Lotts said. “He’s just a humble, humble guy. He does whatever is asked of him. He deserves something like this.
Silva, with an escort from his top class mates Poole and 240-pound tackle Collin Stanton, moved Parker’s stack into the end zone eight yards with 2:40 left. Junior Gage Honomichl’s rush added a two-point conversion to head coach Jeston Lotts’ empty bench, up 36-0.
“We were waiting to play this game,” said Poole. “It was awesome.”
But Oothoudt had other ideas. Avoid laundering, for starters – which took less than 30 seconds to complete. He connected with senior slotback Matt Loza 23 yards just before the goal line, then took the next snap on his own.
He capitalized in the same way after Camp Verde recovered his last kick in play, throwing a 13-yard cross-touching pass to senior Bryce Seekins – who paid a hefty physical price for the catch.
“So they played a good game, they can enjoy it for 24 hours, but we still have things to improve when we come back after Monday,” Lotts said.