N.D. storm strike “Senior Night”; Bryce Kinsler approaching AZ record

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bryce kinslerFALCON STADIUM (OCT. 11) – Neither a 34-6 Notre Dame victory nor a scary electrical storm some seven minutes before halftime could dampen last Thursday’s “Senior Night.” Danger of lightning strikes halted the game with 6:32 left in the 2nd quarter; but the unexpected breather helped only the Falcon “D”, which limited the visiting Notre Damers to a pair of 2nd half field goals. But their 28 1st half points gave them 34 – and the ball game. Only Quint-Captain Bryce Kinsler’s (r) last minute QB sneak spared the Senior Birds the embarrassment of the big doughnut. The Falcons’ fourth straight home loss dropped them to 2-6, and put the virtual kibosh on any chance of qualifying for the Division 2 State Playoffs, with two regular season games remaining (this Friday at Paradise Valley (PV) and Oct. 26 Homecoming vs. Shadow Mountain.) The Falcons have the talent to win both games; but will they just roll over and “play out the string?” Individually and collectively, they have sufficient incentive(s) to do otherwise.

Consider, please: First, the team needs to go no further than the first nine words of the CSHS fight song: “Cactus Shadows! Cactus Shadows! Pride in Blue and Gray!” Do the ‘Birds still have it after six losses? We’ll see.

Second, at PV, Kinsler, as he nears a new Arizona state record for career total passing yards, would love to take back the last throw he attempted against the Trojans on the Falcons’ final possession in 2010. Trailing 30-34 after being blindsided 28-0 by the winless PVers, the Falcs held the second of two chances to pull off a near-miraculous comeback. With the Falcons 1st-and-10 at the PV 25, everybody in the artificially-turfed stadium knew that Kinsler would target John Leonard, his go-to receiver. So, too, did the Trojan cornerback, whose route-jumping INT sealed PVs upset stunner. I can still see “Big John,” frustrated, lying face down on the Astro turf. Bryce, hopefully, en route to a new Arizona record, you owe the Trojans one!

Third, by winning both the PV and Shadow Mountain games, these current Falcons will improve upon 2011’s mark of 3-7. For sure, only by one game, but 4-6 beats 3-7 – even in Vegas! Progress … is progress … is progress. Please, no woulda-coulda-shoulda beens about the Falcons’ record. They, themselves, are the most bitterly disappointed.

Fourth, and most importantly, Kinsler’s chase-down of a very prestigious State record (career, total passing yards) should be, for Falcon fans, “must see” football. The current record, 8,517 yards, 2008-2010, is held by Showlow’s Rathen Rizedorff. How does Bryce feel about his chances? “Of course, it would be a great honor to set the new record, and to hold it until it’s broken. But for right now, my focus – and our team’s – is on winning these last two games.” That’s not Bryce being political – or modest. He means it.

Fans will be interested in the heads-up that our own 2006 4A-I State Championship quarterback, Phillip Aholt, 2004-2006, held the State record at 8,312 yards until Rizedorff eclipsed him. Going into Friday night’s game, Bryce stands at 8,321. Do the math: he needs to put up 287 yards to set the new record. If I were a 2012 Football Falcon, I’d consider it a big time honor to have played on the same team with a State record-setting quarterback. Bryce and your teammates, good luck!

So Falcons, for these next ten days, “One, Two, Three … FINISH!”