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AJ, Estrella Ride the Storm Out

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After two-hour storm delay, Wolves Blank Prospectors

By Daniel Dullum

Both Goodyear Estrella Foothills and Apache Junction dealt with the effects of a two-hour storm delay Friday at Davis Field before the 4A non-region football contest finally kicked off at 8:58 p.m.

The visiting Wolves scored two touchdowns in the first half, the Prospectors had their problems in the red zone, and, at 11:45 p.m., Estrella Foothills concluded its 17-0 victory over AJ.

“It’s unique,” Wolves Coach Derek Wahlstrom said. “I feel very blessed to come out of here with a victory. We get a nice bus ride home, and I think I might let them sleep in a little bit.”

Heavy rain and the appearance of lightning prompted officials to hold off the start of the game until the storm system left the area. There was brief discussion of playing the game on Saturday in Goodyear, but both teams agreed instead to the later kickoff.

“We just kept talking football with the players,” Prospectors Coach Vance Miller said. “We wouldn’t let them get complacent in the locker room. We kept it positive and let them know we were working on the best case scenario, and we were going to play one way or another.

“It’s something both sides were dealing with, so we’re not using it as an excuse. It didn’t affect us any more than it affected them.”

The Prospectors (0-3) had five drives stall inside the 20-yard line.

“We’re going to back, look at the film, and find out why,” Miller said. “Some of it was obvious – we were dropping passes, lining up wrong, things we don’t do. But you have to practice to play well. So when kids miss practice, you can’t play well.

“That’s what happened. We had a lot of mental mistakes and that’s not what we’re about,” he continued. “At the very least, we should have had 28 points if we capitalize on that.”

“I think our team played really good,” Prospectors quarterback Gibson Limongello said. “I think we had some small errors that stopped us in the red zone. But they’ll be fixed in practice.”

“Our defense really stepped up in the red zone,” Wahlstrom said. “We did a fantastic job of making stops when we needed them.”

After the Prospectors had a drive stall on downs at the Estrella Foothills 15, the Wolves scored first on a 22-yard touchdown run by Kentray Noble with 4:13 left in the first quarter.

Late in the first half, the Wolves (3-1) made it 14-0 on Noble’s 11-yard TD jaunt. On that play, Prospectors lineman Freddie Borunda suffered an injury that required attention from first responders, and left Davis Field by ambulance. At press time, details on Borunda’s injury were unavailable.

Apache Junction was on the march again early in the third quarter, taking advantage of a short Wolves punt and driving to the EF 13. On a fake 30-yard field goal attempt, Brenden Brushroe picked off the pass, thwarting another Prospectors drive.

A short AJ punt to its own 32 set up a 27-yard Josh Orozco field goal, giving the Wolves a 17-0 lead with 4:09 remaining in the third quarter.

AJ opened the fourth quarter with a drive that stalled at the EF 6, and closed the game with a drive that stalled inside the Wolves 15.

The Prospectors were penalized seven times for 70 yards.

“We were pretty equal,” Miller said of the two teams. “They weren’t bigger, faster, stronger than us. Their quarterback is pretty tough, but they didn’t do anything out of the ordinary that we shouldn’t have been able to take care of.

“They scored 17 points, because we kept giving them the ball.”

Quarterback Tyler Godfrey was the top rusher for Estrella Foothills, gaining 81 yards on 12 carries. Noble finished with 45 yards on seven attempts. Jacob McCleod caught six passes for 55 yards.

Godfrey and Regan Jenkins rotated at quarterback. Godfrey completed 3 of 9 for 32 yards, while Jenkins was 5 of 9 for 48 yards.

“That’s, in part, because Tyler plays a lot of defense, and so it’s a way to rest him,” Wahlstrom said. “We believe we’re blessed to have two terrific athletes at that position.”

Apache Junction outgained the Wolves 141 to 138 on the ground. Joey Przybyszewski led the Prospectors with 71 yards on 17 attempts, followed by Limongello’s 56 rushing yards on 16 carries. William Lohman ran five times for 16 yards.

Limongello completed 12 of 33 passes for 117 yards and threw one interception.

This Friday, the Prospectors travel to Tempe to face the Buffaloes. Game time is 7 p.m.

“Tempe plays with us really well,” Miller said. “They’re another team, like Estrella Foothills, in that we’re pretty equal. They’re not as big and fast as some of the teams we play.

“It’s another winnable game. It’s a game where we need to regroup, refocus, and get the W.”

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