By Adam Wolfe
The Rincon High School Rangers are coming off their first win of the season, but the Maricopa Rams are still a heavy favorite heading into Friday night’s matchup in Tucson.
The Rams saw their offensive production drop by 50 percent last week. They still managed a win big, but much of the credit goes to the defense and special teams units that dominated most of the game.
This week, the Rams are expected to spread the field a bit more and bring back their balanced attack. For Rincon, the key will be to get their running game going or it could be a long night for the Rangers. After three games, Rincon has been outscored 144 to 40, and they haven’t seen an offense as potentially explosive as Maricopa’s yet.
“I don’t think they can cover us so we’re going to attack them,” MHS football head coach Chris McDonald said. “Hopefully our receivers got the memo about blocking for each other. Poor blocks showed on film so we’ve been working on that, but we’re going to spread them out and see what they can do.”
Injuries could present a problem for Maricopa on offense. The Rams could be without starting center and team captain Nikolai White again. He is a game-time decision with a hurt ankle. If he can’t go, it’s likely the Rams will see a lineman rotation similar to what they did against Shadow Mountain High School.
“We’ve got two or three new linemen coming in and playing,” McDonald said. “The chemistry isn’t set. We’re still trying to finalize that chemistry, and we never seem to be able to get over the hump because we always have one guy out or we’re having to put a left guard at right guard and we haven’t had the ability to let kids get comfortable playing one position.”
Maricopa’s line will need to provide more time for senior quarterback Aaron Owens to throw the ball. He was forced to scramble more against Shadow Mountain than he had in the Rams’ previous game against Agua Fria High School. The result was 400 fewer passing yards for Owens.
According to McDonald, getting consistency and chemistry back into the offense is a key for the Rams moving forward. On defense, Maricopa will look to shut down Rincon’s running game. The Rangers haven’t shown much of a passing game in their first three games, so getting pressure on the running backs early in the backfield will be the key.
“They’ve got a pretty good running back, and he’s a bigger kid with a long stride so we need to hit him in the backfield before he gets going,” McDonald said. “If we can get to him, from a defensive standpoint, we should be fine. We’ll be down a couple guys, so we need some other guys to step up like they did in Shadow Mountain.”
The Rams are expected to win Friday night, but despite Rincon only winning two games last year (one by forfeit) and no games in 2013, the Rangers should not be overlooked.
Neither team has had a winning record since 2012, but both teams are looking to break recent trends and turn their programs around.
The game will kickoff at 7 p.m. at Rincon High School’s stadium at 421 N. Arcadia Blvd. in Tucson.