Paradise Valley shocks Cactus Shadows,

Late turnovers kill Falcons’ comeback
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PARADISE VALLEY – All right, Falcon fans, be honest: you’d already marked your sports calendars for Friday night, Oct. 15, CSHS Homecoming, undefeated Falcons vs. unbeaten Saguaro in the game of the 2010 regular season. I had. Ain’t gonna happen.

‘BIRDS OF A FEATHER stick together! These five Falcons will. (Kneeling, l-r) Bryce Kinsler (29/38, 347 yds., 1 TD, 1 INT), Joree Schneider (9 catches, 90 yds.); (standing, l-r) Max Gersh (6 catches, first Falcon TD), Cam Larson (5 catches, 91 yds.); Joey Hughes, whose big play safety with 3:09 remaining gave the ‘Birds one last chance to win. Not available for photo: John Leonard (12 catches, 175 yds.).

Falcons at P.V. on Sept. 24, 4:35 left, turned the ball over twice in the “Red Zone” (a fumble at the 2 and an INT at the 19), allowing the Trojans to escape with a 34-30 upset win that sent about 200 of their frenzied student fans racing around the track to jubilantly confront the CSHS crowd. Thanks to the alertness of Cheer Head Coach Rika Cuff and Pom Head Coach Cindy Knuteson who recognized what was developing, a potentially dangerous situation was averted: plenty of “f-bombs” hurled by the invaders, but no fights.

Deserved congratulations to P.V. Head Coach Donnie Yantis and his Trojans on the hard-fought Homecoming victory, their first of the season; but shame on PVHS officials for the total absence of crowd control as quarterback Ryan Finley took two game-ending knees. Your team did, indeed, “Pursue Victory with Honor”; your students, did not. What blew out of control could have gotten very ugly.

Meanwhile, back at the (Glendale) Cactus ranch, the Cobras, in overtime, stopped Saguaro’s “Mr. Touchdown,” Teddy Ruben, on his try for a two-point conversion. Final score: Cactus, 42 - Saguaro, 41.

Small consolation for the Falcons, who sleep-walked through the first 14 minutes of their foolishly-anticipated “gimme” against the 0-3 Trojans. At 2:15 of the 2nd period, when P.V.’s sophomore QB Finley perfectly turned a “bootleg” into a 68-yard stunner, the Falcs had dug themselves into a 0-28 hole. They – and their coaches – can take from the equally disappointing and frustrating loss that they didn’t quit. A TD pass from Bryce Kinsler to Max Gersh (4:51) and two short scoring rushes by Nic Erickson (8:31 and 11:16) brought the battling ‘Birds back to 21-28 at halftime.

Young Bryce’s 12-yard sprint, untouched, followed by Nick Miller’s fourth P.A.T., drew the Falcons even at 5:13 of the 3rd period; but the Trojans, aided by two drive-saving penalties (roughing the passer and defensive holding), marched 75 yards for the go-ahead TD five minutes later. The point-after kick was wide left! P.V., 34 - CSHS, 28.

Then, in the 4th quarter, with John Leonard, Joree Schneider and Cam Larson making big-play catches, the Falcons gutted out two bona fide chances to win, sandwiched around linebacker Joey Hughes “highlight film” sack of Finley for a safety with 3:09 left on the distractingly-erratic game clock. Clock failures shouldn’t happen. This writer chooses not to detail the two “Red Zone” disasters that finally sent the ‘Birds home on the wrong-end of 30-34.

After a CSHS loss, whatever the sport, I don’t seek out a coach’s comment/explanation; but I believe Coach “D.” would tell me that with six games still to play in the regular season, his team has learned an invaluable lesson against taking any opponent lightly. So Falcons, at least try to get serious at 0-5 Flagstaff (26 points for - 276 against) this Friday at NAU’s Walkup Skydome; and take notice that Apache Junction, coming to Falcon Stadium, Oct. 8, whacked (Cottonwood) Mingus, 34-7, last Friday night. You’ve got two games of “business” to take care of before “welcoming” the big, bad Sabercats on the 15th.

Closing “hats off” to John Leonard who suffered a painful knee injury on an out-of-bounds hit (inexplicably not flagged by the Zebras) early in the 4th quarter. But you can’t keep a good man down! He returned to make key catches in the Falcons’ last two possessions. For you stat freaks, P.V. was Leonard’s fourth consecutive game with 100+ yards receiving. And to receiver and return man Joree Schneider, who had a big game after being injury-sidelined since late in the 2nd half of the Cienega opener.

“Crow,” undaunted, sez … CSHS, 54 - Flagstaff, 10. C’mon, Falcs – shake off, and bust out big from last Friday!