Football Playoff Hopes Vanish for Imagine Prep

Sequoia Pathway Academy Hands Panthers Fifth Defeat of the Season with Shutout

By Daniel Dullum

MESA – Moments after the final horn ending the CAA Open Division football game between Imagine Prep-Superstition and Maricopa Sequoia Pathway Academy on Oct. 5 at Highland Jr. High, Panthers quarterback Junior Figueroa was a picture of total exhaustion.

“It’s what I do every game. I leave my whole life out there,” Figueroa said following Imagine Prep’s 30-0 loss to the visiting Pumas. “I do my best, I do whatever I can and my teammates also do all they can. But sometimes, it doesn’t work out.

“The coaches put us in perfect positions to play a perfect game; they drew up a good game plan, but we just have to execute it. Sometimes, it’s just about execution, and we didn’t execute and wound up losing.”

Sequoia Pathway (3-2) didn’t have a perfect night, but good enough. The Pumas were flagged eight times for 90 penalty yards and lost two fumbles, but their defense held Imagine Prep (1-5) to 24 total offense yards.

“We’re really young, and it hurts because these teams want to run up the score on us,” Panthers Coach Joe Crawford said. “Last year, we were the top dogs and now we’ve got the target on our backs. The sting hurts a little bit more, but at the end of the day, we put these guys in situations to win football games and some guys have it, some guys don’t. It comes with the maturity.”

Sequoia Pathway took a 12-0 lead in the first quarter on an 8-yard touchdown run by quarterback Alex Montano and Ajani Elliot’s 36-yard TD on an end around. The Pumas extended their lead to 24-0 at the half with a 5-yard touchdown run by Shane Miller and William Senne’s 72-yard interception return.

Jacob McIntyre’s 5-yard touchdown run at 8:43 of the third quarter closed out the scoring.

The loss took Imagine Prep out of the CAA playoff race.

Crawford noted, “But I can’t have my quarterback take hits, and I can’t have my top wide receiver take hits as well. It comes down to pride, and that’s what we have to play with from now on.”

After a bye on Friday, the Panthers resume their schedule on Oct. 19 at Gilbert San Tan Charter.

“I know we’ll bounce back from this, and we’ll see how the rest of the season goes,” Figueroa said.

Photo above: The Imagine Prep cheer team makes final adjustments on their banner prior to kickoff against Sequoia Pathway. (Photo by Daniel Dullum)

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