OCTOBER 16, 2013
Notre Dame’s last-seconds touchdown deflates CSHS comeback, 24-21
Falcons host P.V. at Homecoming ‘13
In the fall of 1951, a scant six years after the Japanese surrender had ended World War II, I was a sophomore at Sidney Lanier High School (the “Poets”) in my native Montgomery, Alabama. Bart Starr, later Green Bay Packers legend and NFL Hall of Famer, quarterbacked the Poets to an undefeated season and the unofficial state championship. There were no State Playoffs ‘way back then. The captain of that Lanier team was a feisty guard, Joe Rodgers, who would become U.S. Ambassador to France in the second Ronald Reagan administration. Nick Germanos, a swarthy, ebullient fellow of Greek ancestry, was the tight end. Nick would have the dubious distinction of captaining the 1955 Alabama team that went 0-10, an embarrassment that accelerated the arrival in Tuscaloosa of one Paul W. Bryant from Texas A & M. “The Bear” to the rescue! He most certainly did that!
Fifty years later, August 2001, hired on by Don Sorchych to be the sports reporter for Sonoran News, I “covered” my first Cactus Shadows football game – Falcons at home vs. (Tucson) Catalina. Over eleven seasons, I reported 115 consecutive Falcon games, my streak interrupted only by a 24-hour “bug” that kept me from covering the 4A-II State Championship Game in December 2006. Attending 115 games, for sure, is a lot of high school football.
During that span, is there one game that stands out? Absolutely! October 2006, CSHS vs. Notre Dame on the Saints’ “home” turf at S.C.C. The best, most exciting high school football game I’ve ever seen – whether in Alabama or Arizona. Rivalry tension was through the roof! Notre Dame students and fans wore game day T-shirts proclaiming “It’s Open Season on Falcons,” infuriating more than a few Falcon Football parents.
Deadlocked 17-17 at the half, the two teams fought through a scoreless 3rd quarter and 9 ½ minutes of the 4th. With two-minutes-and-change remaining, the Saints’ final punt rolled dead at the CSHS 18-yard line. As he took the field for the Falcons’ last possession, I heard quarterback Phillip Aholt exhort, “Let’s go, boys! State Championship!” On the ensuing third snap, running back senior Eric Gorraiz burst off right tackle and raced 50 yards before being hauled down from behind at the Notre Dame 30. Three plays moved the ball to the N.D. 17. In came place-kicker Kyle Royer. With only 27 seconds remaining, his 34-yard field goal attempt was plumb line perfect! Falcons, 20 – Saints, 17! And, indeed, the Falcons went on to the State Championship and a 15-0 season. The thriller over the Saints will never be forgotten – at least not be this sportswriter!
Well, as any fan knows only too well, “What goes around … comes around.” At S.C.C. last Friday night, the Falcons gallantly rallied from being down 0-17 with two touchdowns by Payton Ringwald and a third by Bruno Rodriquez, to overtake the Saints, 21-17 – despite having 12 starters on the P.U.P. list (Physically Unable to Perform), including dominant offensive lineman Quad-Captain Brad Souva, who suffered a torn ACL at Wednesday’s practice. Coach Davis: “You can’t be invulnerable to injuries; but I hate it for these kids who’ve worked so hard to finish their Cactus Shadows football careers this way. We had some younger kids (Rodriguez, safety Braxton Gallian, receiver Taylor Wilson) who really stepped up. We’ve just got to go forward with whom we have and play our best.”
The headline tells you the Falcons couldn’t stand prosperity. Notre Dame escaped a 4th-and-20 hole at midfield and went on to score what proved to be the winning touchdown with less than ten seconds remaining. For the Saints, the heartbreak of 2006 had “gone around” and “come back around” – more than joyously. If there’s cable TV in heaven, I hope Notre Dame’s first football coach, (the late) Scot Bemis, was watching.
And I hope, perhaps even more, that the 4-3, #21 ranked Falcons will put up a big Homecoming win Friday night against the 5-3, #18 Paradise Valley Trojans. Keep fightin’, Falcons! You’ve proved you know how to do just that. Light up the Homecoming Dance!
~ Pete Mohr
The Senior Student Council Members had a “wild” time in the 2013 Homecoming Parade. Their Wild West Float had the PVHS Trojan jailed by the CSHS Falcon Sheriff. The Falcon Football team is hopeful they’ll be able to bring the senior float theme to life in Friday night’s shootout at the Cactus Shadows Corral!
Pictured (l-r): Spencer Eisner, Andrew Nguyen, Nima Sadeghi, Brandon Boepple, Hosh Hislop, Michael Kresojevic, Dani Bennett, Monika Zolnierczyk, Megan Summers, Shayna Braude, Emily Sirota, Amanda Hildebrandt, Elizabeth Rockwell, Annabelle Abel.
Courtesy Photo / Cameron Bender, CSHS Student Council Advisor