Prospectors Grind Out Victory

Zimmerman Scores Three TD’s in Win Over Dysart

By Daniel Dullum

After a stellar effort on homecoming night, Apache Junction senior Ethan Zimmerman turned in a memorable encore performance one week later for the Prospectors.

Zimmerman scored three touchdowns – including one on an 85-yard kickoff return to start the second half – as Apache Junction outlasted El Mirage Dysart 20-12 in a Black Canyon Region football game on Oct. 6 at Davis Field. He also had two interceptions.

“He’s just a phenomenal football player,” Prospectors Coach Vance Miller said. “He’s all over the place, he has a great football IQ, can read those patterns well. And it doesn’t hurt that he’s 6-3 and runs like a deer!”

The Prospectors improved to 3-4 overall, 2-0 in the region, while Dysart fell to 1-6. AJ came into the game ranked #30 in the AIA 4A power poll, which will be updated on Tuesday.

“This was going to be our biggest hurdle on our road to the playoffs,” Miller said. “Our kids had a great week of practice, and they’re hungry. They wanted this one, they’ve been talking playoffs the whole time.

“Now, it’s two down, three to go in the region. The ball is in our court and the ball’s been rolling in our favor. We just have to stay healthy and we’ll be OK.”

Special teams played a key role in the Prospectors’ win. Punter Logan Dela Cruz consistently pinned the Demons deep in their own territory, with two punts landing inside the 10-yard line.

“Logan’s punts have been great,” Miller said. “We put a lot of emphasis on special teams this year, and it’s shown in every single game, no matter who we play. We’re solid there, and we’re happy about that.”

Kicker Chazz Chavez was 2-of-3 on extra point attempts, catching a friendly bounce off the crossbar on one and banking in another off the right upright.

“I drew it up that way!” Miller said, laughing.

On Dysart’s first possession, a sack by Zach Clement put the Demons on their own 30, and the drive eventually stalled on downs.

Zimmerman’s first touchdown came on the defensive side. With 4:28 to play in the opening quarter and the Demons pinned against their own goal line, Dysart running back Marcus Banda fumbled at the 5-yard line, and Zimmerman scooped up the loose ball.

“(Banda) fumbled the ball right out of the gate, the ball fumbled out, landed right in my hands, and I took it in,” Zimmerman said. “It really helped  start us off.”

The Prospectors made it 13-0 at 6:25 of the second quarter when Zimmerman hauled in a 14-yard scoring pass from Gibson Limongello.

Zimmerman’s third quarter kickoff return represented the last points Apache Junction put on the board.

“The key block happened around mid-field,” Zimmerman said. “Eli (Alexander) blocked the kicker for me, that was a huge block and I went to the house.”

“The kids blocked where they’re supposed to block, Ethan found the seam, and he’s gone,” Miller added. “He’s a 300 hurdle runner, so once he gets that open space, he has those long strides and they’re not going to catch him.”

Dysart got its passing game in gear and quarterback Kobe Ganados threw touchdown passes to Banda (11 yards) and Tommy Walker (14 yards), The Demons had an extra point kick blocked, and an interception on a 2-point try, but pulled to within 20-12 with 2:59 left in the third quarter.

“(Dysart) made some good adjustments, but our defense stepped up,” Miller said. “Our offense put us in a couple of bad positions field-wise, but our defense responded.

“We gave them 12 points, but after that, we locked it down.

Apache Junction’s defense shut down Dysart the rest of the way. A key sack by Joshua Tunstill forced the Demons into a 4th-and-30 situation, ending one drive. Zimmerman’s second interception at the Prospector 41 with 1:46 remaining in the fourth quarter stopped another Demon threat.

“Those sacks (by Clement and Tunstill) were both drive killers,” Miller said. “Then we went into our prevent defense. Most people say it prevents you from winning, but our prevent defense is pretty solid.”

Dysart had one final drive starting at its own 23, but three incompletions turned the ball over on downs.

Limongello was the Prospectors’ leading rusher, gaining 75 yards on nine carries. He also completed 2-of-4 passes for 24 yards and a touchdown.

Next Friday, the Prospectors travel to Phoenix Cortez for a region game against the Colts. Game time is 7 p.m.

“We don’t take anybody lightly,” Miller said. “Cortez is struggling this year, but we’re going over to their place and we’re going to do our best. After that, we’re on Friday Night Fever as the host team for Channel 12, so that’s going to be fun, being in the studio.”

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