The Maricopa High School Rams football team suffered its first loss of the season against the Arcadia High School Titans Friday night, 31-10.
The Rams started strong by scoring on their first two drives to take a 10-0 lead, but could never get any traction after that.
“Our defense played well enough to win this game,” MHS football head coach Chris McDonalds said. “But what bothers me the most is we didn’t play this whole game. I knew [Arcadia] would be desperate for a win. The only thing we can do from here is take this as a learning lesson. We’re 6-1. We’re still in the driver’s seat to do some good things.”
The Rams’ high-powered offense looked lost for most of the game. Senior quarterback Aaron Owens was able to connect with senior wide receiver and team captain Johnny Johnson Jr. for a touchdown early, but dropped passes and lack of accuracy stalled nearly every drive after that.
Despite holding a 10-3 lead at halftime, the Rams came out in the second half with very little intensity. Arcadia’s stout defensive front harassed Owens in the backfield all night. Other than the occasional first down run from sophomore D’Angelo Edgerton, the Rams running game was largely ineffective.
The game’s turning point came when the Rams punted their second drive of the second half away. Arcadia’s junior wide receiver Grant Loftin called for a fair catch on the punt but was hit anyway. The ball bounced away and was picked up by Arcadia senior safety Kevin Hill. He returned it for a touchdown.
After a lengthy meeting among the referees, the call was upheld despite adamant protests from Maricopa’s coaching staff.
However, according to the Arizona Interscholastic Association’s guidelines, only the player who signaled for a fair catch is unable to advance the ball. Any other player on the field may pick up the ball and attempt a return.
The touchdown visibly deflated the Maricopa sideline. Arcadia took advantage of the momentum swing and reeled off three more touchdowns in the fourth quarter.
Arcadia 0 3 7 21
Maricopa 10 0 0 0
“We just really haven’t been efficient the last two weeks,” McDonald said. “Just a lot of mental errors. We had receivers dropping footballs all over the place. We had missing blocking assignments. It was just an ugly game from an offensive standpoint. Our defense gave us an opportunity to win the game, and we just didn’t come to play.”
The loss will likely drop Maricopa in the AIA Power Rankings, but they could still be one of the top seeds in the AIA Division III State Football Playoffs.
“They need to know the sun comes up again tomorrow,” McDonald said. “They’ve still had a good start to the season so far. I told them, ‘I hope this humbles you guys.’”
Maricopa will be back on the field next Friday against Seton Catholic High School in Tempe. The Sentinels are just 2-6 on the season, but they are coming off an impressive 8-7 win over McClintock High School.
Passing: Aaron Owens 16-34 for 167 yards
Rushing: D’Angelo Edgerton 58 yards
Receiving: David Owens and Johnny Johnson Jr. 58 yards