A 34-17 win against the Tempe Buffaloes has added another ripple to the wave of momentum the Maricopa Rams are riding.
With five consecutive wins, the 7-3 Rams will look to keep on rolling next Friday night as the No. 7 seed in the Division III playoffs.
“I’m so proud of our kids,” coach Cory Nenaber said.
The Rams struck first on Friday when quarterback Caleb Buck hit Franshua Avila for a touchdown in the first five minutes of the game. The Rams never surrendered the lead for the rest of the night thanks to a combination of their surging offense and stout defensive efforts.
For the latter, the Rams survived the 350 yards Tempe ran and passed by making a few key stops and two vital fumble recoveries that prevented the Buffalos from being able to do much damage on offense.
“Turnovers are big momentum changers,” Nenaber said. “We are a better defense than the stats suggest.”
Senior running back Kentrell Coleman led the Rams with 183 yards rushing off of 31 carries with two rushing touchdowns and a receiving touchdown.
Buck provided balance to the Rams’ offense with his arm by throwing for 200 yards and three touchdowns on 13 completions.
The win completed a regular season that saw the Rams start off with a 2-3 record but bounce back since a 46-14 loss against Chandler Seton Catholic to go undefeated in the second half of the season.
The stretch has featured the use of a well-balanced offense – highlighted by the play of Buck, Coleman, Avila and junior receiver Tim Byrd – and a defense capable of pressuring quarterbacks and stopping the run.
Nenaber credited much of the success to the work ethic of the players on the team and seeing the progress they’ve made throughout the season.“We get better every week and that’s what is important,” Nenaber said.
With the regular season finished, Nenaber and his team will face off against Thunderbird High School (Glendale) in the Rams’ first playoff game since 2007.
However, Nenaber said the team “is not going to be satisfied” with just making an appearance in this year’s playoffs.
“November football is what it’s all about,” he said.