Camp Verde High School’s football team spent all week preparing for what Tonopah Valley High School was going to throw at them, giving up just eight first-half points at home on Friday, Sept. 22.
But the Cowboys [1-4, 0-2] were not ready for the halftime adjustments made by the Phoenix, giving up 26 more en route to a 36-0 Central Region defeat.
“It wasn’t what we did; it’s what they did. We put in a defense to defend their formations that they were doing in the first half, and we forced them out of that,” Cowboys head coach Jerry Rhoades said. “In the second half, the trips, the doubles alignment we didn’t prepare for .... It wasn’t so much what we didn’t do. They forced us to play on the run, making adjustments and we couldn’t capitalize, we couldn’t get it done.”
Camp Verde, hobbled by injury to two of its top players in junior Dominiq Bruno and senior Kieran Chirsman, held Tonopah Valley [3-2, 1-0], who was off last week, scoreless for nearly 17 minutes. It forced the visitors to punt on its first possession and recovered a fumble on their second, although fumbling it right back on the next play.
Phoenix junior running back Angelo Anderson was the focal point of their offense, carrying the ball 25 times for 158 yards. A flag called back a would-be long touchdown of his, creating a first and 20 situation. But senior quarterback Chris Davis drew an offside penalty on fourth and four to extend the drive.
Cowboys junior defensive back Steven Petty dropped an interception in the end zone, and Davis scored on a keeper from six yards out, on fourth down, to open the scoring and Anderson converted the two-point try.
Camp Verde drove the field but could not score, turning it over on downs three times and punting once.
“I think our line was pretty beast tonight. The pass blocking, I was able to throw a lot in the first half,” Cowboys senior quarterback Payton Sarkesian said.
Tonopah Valley came out at halftime and scored within two minutes. Anderson had rushes of 13, 21 and 32 yards before taking it in from four yards away.
“I think the first half we came out pretty strong, and we were all pretty hyped,” Sarkesian said. “They got their mojo, we lost ours.”
Camp Verde showed bright spots on defense, getting into the backfield to make five tackles for a loss and recovering two fumbles. It also struggled to get off the field, giving up seven conversions on third and fourth down, including the drive-extending flag in the second quarter.
Anderson scored again on the next Phoenix possession after moving the chains on another fourth down, and carried it in on a five-yard score. Davis, at 6-foot-2-inches and 215 pounds, walked it in on the two-point conversion to make it 22-0 with 3:54 left in the third.
Davis connected with senior wide receiver Tristan Boatwright for a 51-yard touchdown before the end of the quarter. Boatwright was wide open in the middle of the field, dodged one defender and scampered in.
“They’re good. They’re as good as Kingman [Academy High School] we just played better tonight than we did against Kingman,” Rhoades said.
Tonopah Valley played its second string in the fourth quarter, with sophomore backup quarterback Cooper Arndt scoring on a 31-yard keeper.
Camp Verde, scoreless since it shut out Arizona College Preparatory on Sept. 8, had its best chance to score with just over a minute to go in the first half.
Anderson coughed the ball up on his own 20 yard line. Cowboys senior Rafeal Gonzales made one of his team-high five receptions at the 11 to set up a fourth and two, but an incomplete pass on the following play ended the drive.
“I don’t know. I don’t know if it was a combination of play calls or what but we just couldn’t execute enough to get in the end zone,” Rhoades said.
With under two minutes left in the third quarter, Gonzales made a 25-yard grab at the Phoenix 14 on third down.
Senior running back Ryan Loza was stopped on consecutive rushes, and senior quarterback Payton Sarkesian had his fourth-down pass tipped, nearly completed by senior wide receiver Kevin Oothouldt, but fell incomplete.
Sarkesian was nine for 18 for 98 yards and rushed four times for 13 yards. Loza rushed 10 times for 14 yards. Gonzales’ five catches totaled 74 yards.
The Cowboys continue Central Region play at 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 29, at home against Paradise Honors High School.