The Maricopa High School Rams football team turned the ball over five times and failed to gain any offensive momentum en route to a 49-7 loss to Vista Grande during the Homecoming game Friday night.
The tone was set early for the Rams as they fumbled the ball to set up easy touchdowns for the Spartans.
By the end of the first quarter, Maricopa trailed Vista Grande 28-0. By halftime, the Spartans held a commanding 35-0 lead, and the shell-locked Rams trotted into the locker room looking for answers on how the game got away from them so quickly.
“I can’t put my finger on [what went wrong], but it just seems like it snowballed,” MHS football head coach Chris McDonald said. “They came out tonight and were more physical than us, but it just kind of snowballed from there. I’m sick to my stomach about what transpired tonight and what the fans had to watch.”
Maricopa’s offense didn’t find much luck against the stingy Vista Grande defense in the second half either. Senior running back Jalen Lee was able to take a pitch from senior quarterback Aaron Owens for a long touchdown run, but that was the lone big play the typically high-powered Rams offense could muster.
On the defensive side of the ball, the Rams were able to hold the Spartans in check for most of the game. However, extremely short fields and an opportunistic game plan allowed Vista Grande to break the game open early. It only took a few offensive drives and big plays to come away with a victory.
“I’m sick to my stomach about what transpired tonight and what the fans had to watch.” – Coach McDonald
“This game does not define you,” McDonald said to his players after the game. “That score does not define who we are as a team and who you guys are as football players. I know it hurts. It hurts for me, too. We lost one of our team goals. We didn’t win section tonight. But we can still come out on Senior Night and execute the little things right, and we can still go to playoffs and accomplish that.”
Maricopa’s loss carries heavy implications for both teams. Vista Grande entered Friday’s game outside the playoff picture. The Spartans ranked 18th in the Arizona Interscholastic Association Division III Football Power Rankings and needed to upset the eighth-ranked Rams if they had any hope of making the playoffs.
Maricopa, on the other hand, had the opportunity to clinch a section title and all but guarantee themselves a playoff spot. The loss will likely drop them out of the top 10 in the Power Rankings and make next Friday’s game against the 14th-ranked Bears of Bradshaw Mountain High School a must win.