The Maricopa High School Rams football team improved to 7-1 (4-1) on the season with a 29-21 victory on the road against Seton Catholic High School Friday night.
Maricopa used a punishing run game and sprawling passing attack to exploit Seton’s weakness. Senior running back Jalen Lee had a breakout game with 175 yards on 25 carries and a touchdown. Maricopa’s effective run game also created opportunities for senior quarterback Aaron Owens to find space in the passing game. He finished the game with 11 completions on 15 passes for 161 yards and a touchdown.
“Earlier in the season they put me at receiver, but I was struggling since it was my first year with [Maricopa],” Lee said. “I’ve been playing running back all my life. I was telling (coach) McDonald every day to put me at running back, and he saw me improving, so he finally put me at running back.”
Seton Catholic was able to march down the field on its first possession and score a touchdown, but the Sentinels would have trouble piecing together drives throughout the rest of the game. Maricopa’s defense forced two turnovers and five punts throughout the game.
On the other side of the field, the offense got into a great rhythm in the first half and scored on the Rams’ first four drives. Even without senior wide receive and team captain Johnny Johnson Jr. at 100 percent health, the Rams were efficient and aggressive as they moved the ball down the field.
The second half, on the other hand, was marred by mistakes. On multiple occasions the Rams drove down the field and put themselves in scoring position before a penalty, turnover or mental error caused them to lose ground. The missed opportunities kept Seton Catholic in the game, but the offense did enough to earn the victory.
Maricopa 10 13 0 6 – 29
Seton Catholic 6 7 0 8 – 21
“I’m happy for these seniors that they beat Seton. They haven’t done it before,” MHS football head coach said. “I told the kids we have to capitalize on the opportunities, though. I’m tired of these 50 yard drives, and then we have a [mistake] that limits us. We’re just beating ourselves when we’re doing this, but overall I’m very happy. We had some guys step up.”
Maricopa’s win puts the team back on track after losing their first game of the season against Arcadia High School last week. The loss ended the Rams’ run at a perfect season, but the team is still in good position to earn a playoff spot.
“I felt good coming into the game,” McDonald said. “We all needed to get refocused. Sometimes it’s good to get your butt kicked since you learn more from losses than you do from wins. We’re too good of a team not to recover from that.”
The Rams will host Vista Grande High School next Friday for the school’s Homecoming game. Vista Grande is currently ranked in playoff position in the AIA Power Rankings, and the Rams will be looking to make a statement in their last section game of the season.