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Football notebook: Fall break changes up routine

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Desert Ridge's Matthew Purnell looks for running room against Gilbert. (Darryl Webb/MyNewsMesa.com)

This is always an interesting week on the football schedule.

Fall break.

For some programs it equals flop week. With no school practices are held early in the day by some coaches while others try to keep the routine the same and practice in the afternoon just as if they would when school is in session.

Either way the normal routine of a practice week is not available. So, every coach makes due.

Five of the area teams have games this week, while Skyline and Westwood have a bye week.

Mountain View coach Mike Fell is getting the work in early and sending the players off to do whatever they way the rest of the day.

“I like it,” he said. “It’s nothing but football for a week. Practice early in the morning when it is cool. The kids have had a lot of energy.”

Red Mountain has also been getting its work in early in preparation for this week’s game against Mesa.

“I don’t mind playing, but it would be nice to be off,” Mountain Lion coach Mike Peterson said. “Not everyone’s bye will be able to coincide with fall break so just control the things we can control.”

Skyline coach Angelo Paffumi reached out to Westwood to move the game to the first week rather than this week to take advantage of having a week off.

Did he think about keeping them in their regular routine?

“Heck no,” he said. “We had the kids take off Saturday through Tuesday and came back (Wednesday) at 5 p.m.”

The Coyotes, who are 3-0 in East Valley Region play, can rest and heal up in preparation for the final two games, and he isn’t worried about losing momentum.

“No, it comes at a good time,” he said. “We actually have a bunch of kids banged up so this is good.”

Time to check in with news and notes with all seven teams in the MyNewsMesa.com coverage area:

Desert Ridge (6-1, 2-0)

Sophomore quarterback Matt Purnell is completing 73 percent of his passes and averaging 23 yards per completion. … Sophomore Deonce Elliott is leading the team in all-purpose yards at 119.9 yards per game. … The defense has produced 33.5 tackles for a loss, 12.5 sacks, 36 QB hurries, but only four turnovers (three fumble recoveries, one interception). … This Thursday’s game against Mountain Pointe is essentially the Central Region title game should there be no upsets down the stretch.

Last week: W, 34-14 Gilbert.  This week: at Mountain Pointe (6-1, 2-0).  History (since 2004): 1-5, lost four straight. AIA Ranking: No. 5. Last five: 4-1.

Dobson (3-4, 0-2)

The defense forced four fumbles, including three interceptions, in the loss to Westwood last week. … In 2007 the Mustangs rushed for 2,905 yards, which is the most in the MaxPreps era (since 2004). … It was also one of the best defensive teams over that time span as the 2007 team had 23 sacks and 13 interceptions, which rank first and second as team bests since 2004.

Last week: L, 35-14 Westwood.  This week: Mountain View (3-4, 0-2).  History (since 2004): 0-9. AIA Ranking: No. 22. Last five: 1-4.

Mesa’s Aleks Loncar (50) wraps up Skyline quarterback Steven Castle. (Darryl Webb/MyNewsMesa.com)

Mesa (3-5, 1-1)

The Jackrabbits must win out to prevent a third straight losing season and for the eighth in nine seasons. … No one outside of running back Kris Jackson (188 attempts) and quarterback Nate Hanna (31 attempts) has carried the ball more than five times. … Sophomore linebacker Osaiasi Tuaeli ranks fourth on the team in tackles, has four tackles for loss, two sacks, two QB hurries and one fumble recovery.

Last week: L, 44-14 Skyline.  This week: at Red Mountain (5-2, 2-0).  History (since 2004): 4-10, lost last year. AIA Ranking: No. 25. Last five: 2-3.

Mountain View (3-4, 0-2)

Junior linebacker Jeremiah Hollen is averaging 10.0 tackles a game, has one tackle for a loss and two interceptions. … McKay Barney caught a touchdown pass last week in the loss to become just the third player to catch a TD this season behind Tate Allen and Jacobby Dinwiddie, who have three each. … Since 2004, Mountain View has surpassed 400 yards passing in three games, last in 2016, and 400 yards rushing three times, last in 2014. … The Toros will be probably be without leading rusher Dean Yamada (disciplinary) for two more games, according to coach Mike Fell.

Last week: L, 36-13 at Red Mountain.  This week: Dobson (3-4, 0-2).  History (since 2004): 9-0. AIA Ranking: No. 16. Last five: 1-4.

The Mountain Lion’s Lance Lawson (14) leaps through the line of scrimmage into daylight during 2nd quarter action Friday night at Basha High School. (Corey Cross/MyNewsMesa.com)

Red Mountain (6-1, 2-0)

Senior Lance Lawson broke the 5,000-yard mark in the totals yards (rushing, receiving, passing) in this career after last week’s big game. … The defense held Mountain View to less than 5 yards rushing last week to continue the roll it has been on for three weeks that started with four interceptions against Gilbert and then four more picks and three pick 6s against Dobson. … Leading receiver Lorenzo Bowers (24 catches) missed the second half last week with an injury and is expected to miss this week’s game, but return Week 9, according to coach Mike Peterson.

Last week: W, 36-13 Mountain View.  This week: Mesa (3-4, 1-1).  History (since 2004): 10-4, split last two. AIA Ranking: No. 9. Last five: 5-0.

Skyline (5-3, 3-0)

Junior running back Aaron Wood, who had 280 yards rushing and five touchdowns against Mesa, was selected as a player of the week by the Grand Canyon State Gridiron Club, meaning he will receive a medallion and an invite to the Ed Doherty Award celebration at the end of the season. … The Coyotes have won 18 straight region/section games with the last loss – 31-14 vs. Desert Ridge – coming on Oct. 10, 2014. … Skyline has passed for more than 1,500 yards in a season only twice since 2004.

Last week: W, 41-14 Mesa.  This week: Bye. AIA Ranking: No. 11. Last five: 3-2.

Westwood (4-4, 1-2)

The Warriors have equaled the total combined wins of the last two season with two to play. … The team has 23 sacks with 15 of them coming from players who are juniors, and eight from seniors. … If the Warriors win one more game to assure a .500 season it would be just the fourth non-losing season since 2006. … Westwood has never passed for more than 300 yards since 2004, but have rushed for more than 300 10 times.

Last week: W, 35-14 at Dobson.  This week: Bye. AIA Ranking: No. 21. Last five: 3-2.

– Jason P. Skoda is a senior writer for MyNewsMesa.com. Send Mesa-based story ideas to jskoda@mynewsmesa.com.

 

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