After a display of offensive firepower last week against Westwood, the Skyline offense appeared to be in mid-season form to start the 2017 campaign.
That changed Friday night.
The Coyotes finished with just 46 yards of total offense against the Highland Hawks, losing 21-0.
“They challenged us by shoving everybody in the box and we didn’t block it very well,” Skyline coach Angelo Paffumi said. “It was my fault, I knew it was going to happen and I didn’t prepare them for it. I take the blame for it. Highland is a scrappy team, they play with a chip on their shoulder.”
The Hawks’ scrappiness showed immediately.
On the first play from scrimmage the Coyotes attempted a halfback pass with sophomore Marcus Brown. However, Brown’s pass fell into the waiting hands of senior defensive back Jalen Johnson.
The Highland offense took advantage.
Junior quarterback Mason Trail found senior wide out Tanner Lunt for the 33-yard score to put the Hawks up 7-0 early in the first quarter.
With the momentum in favor of the Hawks, Skyline was unable to find a rhythm on offense. Play after play the Coyotes’ attempt to implement their ground game was denied by the Highland front seven.
A depleted run game turned into much of the same for the Coyotes aerial attack, as Johnson gathered his second interception of the night by picking off Coyotes senior quarterback Steven Castle late in the first quarter.
Turnovers followed by penalties paralyzed the already struggling Skyline offense, which managed to stay in the game thanks to the Coyotes defense.
Forcing four Highland turnovers, the defensive unit for Skyline managed to force multiple three-and-outs before the Highland run-game wore them down in the second half.
Highland junior running back Kohner Cullimore took advantage of the tired Coyotes defense, scoring from 4-yards out in the third, followed by an 18-yard run in the fourth.
While Highland’s 107 yards of rushing wasn’t as dominating as last week’s 268-yard performance by his team, first-year Highland coach Brock Farrel still believes it was just enough for his team to pull out the victory.
“They are huge, they get off the ball fast, they are tough,” he said of Skyline’s defensive line. “I was very pleased with our offensive line. We played good enough not to lose.”
The loss brings unfamiliar territory for the Coyotes, who have started their season 2-0 every year since Paffumi took over the program in 2012. Despite that, Paffumi remains confident in his team’s overall ability to bounce back next week against Valley Vista.
“When you have a meltdown like that you can’t blame the kids for that, it’s the coaches fault. It’s attention to detail,” he said. “We will get better. We will get better for the next game and the next game and so on.”
- Zach Alvira is a freelance writer for MyNewsMesa.com.
Highland 7 0 7 7 – 21
Skyline 0 0 0 0 – 0
H – Trail 33 pass to Lunt (Mcnamara), 11:37
H – Cullimore 4 run (Mcnamara), 8:27
H – Cullimore 18 run (Mcnamara), 6:55
First downs 3 9
Rush-yards 27-46 26-107
Comp-Att-Int 5-14-2 11-21-3
Pass yard 27 117
Total yards 46 224
Fumbles/lost 2/1 1/1
Penalties 6-45 6-60
SKY – Wood 13-42, Brown 6-21, Truesdell 2-(-)4, Castle 6-(-)13; H – Wood 9-16, Huffman 7-61, Cullimore 8-37, Trail 2-(-)7
SKY – Castle 4-12-1-16, Brown 1-2-1-11; H – Trail 11-21-3-117
SKY – Glover 1-8, Wood 3-8, Lindley 1-9; H – Cullimore 1-13, Wood 1-11, Lunt 2-44, Meaux 1-6, Bond 2-7, Burdick 1-6, Bryant 2-20, Zimmerman 1-10
H – Mcnamara (47)