Skyline’s Aaron Wood wasted little time Friday night showing that he is quietly becoming one of the state’s top running backs.
Led by a stout offensive line, one and a half quarters was all Wood needed to surpass 100 yards rushing for the fifth week in a row in the Coyotes’ 44-14 win over East Valley Region foe Mesa.
“It feels great, it’s amazing,” Wood said. “It’s great to win in the region because that is how you get into the playoffs.”
Skyline (5-3, 3-0) jumped out ahead of Mesa (3-5, 1-1) on its first possession when Wood found a hole in the Jackrabbits’ defense and scored on a 43-yard touchdown.
On the ensuing possession, Wood again found the end zone this time from 49 yards to extend the Skyline lead heading into the second quarter.
Skyline’s rushing attack had the Jackrabbits’ defense on its heels the entire night, rushing for a total of 326 yards as a team and six touchdowns, one of which from sophomore Marcus Brown (4 carries, 20 yards) and five from Wood (27 carries, 278 yards).
“I have to give a shout out to my O-line, they came to play today,” Wood said. “For me personally I am a smaller back and quick so having those guys be able to get out in front of me helps.”
With the offense in rhythm, the Skyline defense found ways to bottle up the state’s second-leading rusher in Mesa’s Kris Jackson, who had over 1,500 yards rushing through seven games including back-to-back weeks with over 300 yards on the ground.
A daunting task that came during a week where coach Angelo Paffumi says numbers have been thin due to injuries.
“Starting safeties out, a bunch of guys banged up,” Paffumi said. “A bunch of guys on our defense stepped up.”
The Mesa offense showed bright spots in both the pass and run game, as quarterback Nate Hanna found receiver Boyd Mox for a 59-yard touchdown late in the second quarter.
Jackson managed to find the end zone late in the third quarter on a 6-yard run after junior Edward McClendon intercepted a Steven Castle pass and returned it inside the Skyline 10-yard line.
However, it wasn’t until midway through the fourth quarter on third-and-seven from around midfield, Jackson found one of the few holes allowed by the Coyotes’ defense and surpassed 100 yards for the eighth week in a row.
Still, Skyline’s defense kept the Mesa offense at bay.
“They have a heck of a running back,” Paffumi said of Jackson. “We had to center our game plan around him to slow him down and I think our defense did a pretty good job doing that.”
Region play continues for the Jackrabbits as they travel to take on a Red Mountain team that has won five games in a row while Skyline has a bye week before facing off against Red Mountain on October 20th.
“We have a week off to heal and hopefully we do,” Paffumi said. “They need to get away from me for a few days and then we will come back to Red Mountain.”
– Zach Alvira is a freelance writer for MyNewsMesa.com
Skyline 44, Mesa 14
Skyline 14 17 7 6 – 44
Mesa 0 6 8 0 – 14
SKY – Wood 43 run (Alvarez), 6:29
SKY – Wood 49 run (Alvarez, 2:40
SKY – Brown 10 run (Alvarez), 8:32
MHS – Hanna 59 pass to Mox, 6:28
SKY – Wood 1 run (Alvarez), 2:03
SKY – Alvarez 36 FG, :00
MHS – Jackson 6 run (Hanna to Brubaker 2 PC), 6:17
SKY – Wood 54 run (Alvarez), 5:10
SKY – Wood 15 run, 11:51
First downs 16 7
Rush-yards 41-326 29-91
Comp-Att-Int 3-10-1 7-17-2
Pass yard 31 100
Total yards 351 191
Fumbles/lost 1/1 1/0
Penalties 10-66 6-40
SKY – Wood 27-278, Brown 4-20, Truesdell 2-11, Castle 3-(-)2, Faasavalu 1-1, Mcgown 2-7, Lindley 1-6, Buchanan 1-5; MHS – Jackson 24-113, Hanna 4-(-)18, Taylor 1-(-)4
SKY – Castle 3-10-1-31; MHS – Hanna 7-17-2-100
SKY – Wood 2-18, Moore 1-13; MHS – Taylor 3-24, Mox 3-72, Mcclendon 1-4