Everything that worked for the Maricopa High School football team in its 49-12 win over winless Central a week ago did not work at all its in first region competition Friday at Higley High.
The 59-0 loss to the Knights evened the Rams’ overall record at 3-3.
“Our kids have to understand and learn that when you’re in big games and you come out and self-destruct, you can’t make mistakes,” head coach Brandon Harris said. “You’ve got to do the things that you’ve been coached to do. When you don’t, you lose games, you lose these games to good teams.”
The teams came into the game with identical records and looked evenly matched on paper. However, the Rams struggled to gain first downs from scrimmage (they did so just four times), let alone get near the end zone. The defense, meanwhile, left gaping holes for Higley running backs. By the middle of the third quarter, the referees were letting the clock run.
“The kids didn’t execute,” Harris said. “We’ve got to put them, I guess, in better positions to succeed.”
This week, the Rams come home to face undefeated Campo Verde, which sits atop 5A San Tan.
“We’ve got a lot of work, obviously. We’ve got to get their heads up,” Harris said, “make them understand there’s more games to be played, there’s more season left. Our goals are still intact.”
Harris said the region is not as strong as it was last year. With the young Maricopa team now having six games under their belts, he added, they can no longer use inexperience as an excuse.”
“They’ve got to be able to play a lot better than they did right now,” he said.
Against lesser teams, like Central, the Rams have been able to withstand their own mistakes, but against equal or better teams, those mistakes have turned into opposing touchdowns quickly. Maricopa has been outscored this season 181-123 while still hanging onto a .500 winning percentage.