After weeks of listening to their critics, Thursday night top-ranked Division-II Skyline let their play do the talking.
The Coyotes (9-0, 4-0) used some stingy defense and a second half surge to pull away from second-ranked Williams Field (7-2, 3-1) 17-7 in a closely contested game overshadowed by a devastating left foot/lower leg injury to Black Hawks’ junior running back Evan Price in the fourth quarter. Paramedics rushed Price to Scottsdale Osborn Medical Center after the game was delayed for several minutes.
Williams Fields’ game plan was to crowd the box on star running back Amarii Keyes and force steady junior TJ Duarte and others to beat them. Half of their scheme worked. Keyes was held to 67 yards on 26 carries but Duarte was again efficient (11-14, 195 yards) and didn’t turn the ball over against the stingy Black Hawks’ defense.
“They did a great job,” Skyline head coach Angelo Paffumi said of Williams Field, to the assembled media shortly after a spirited and emotional post-game speech to his team. “They stuffed the box. I give them a lot of credit.”
Equal credit must be distributed to Paffumi’s defense as well, holding the Black Hawks to 61 first half yards and neutralizing Steve Campbell’s passing attack spearheaded by senior quarterback Weston Murphy and a handful of talented skill players.
“Our kids found a way to win, we’re 9-0,” Paffumi pronounced. “We’ll take it.”
Skyline will also take a sectional title home Friday with a Mesa High loss to Higley or a win over the MHS Jackrabbits themselves next week.