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Shamrocks destroy Scottsdale Christian in quarterfinals
GILBERT – The No. 4 Scottsdale Christian football team landed a pair of early body blows to No. 5 Yuma Catholic.
The Shamrocks absorbed them and responded by blowing up the scoreboard.
The defending Division V state champion got six touchdowns from senior running back Kody Hazlett and beat the Eagles 79-39 in an Arizona Interscholastic Association quarterfinal on a windy afternoon at Williams Field High School in Gilbert.
Hazlett finished with 250 yards on 26 carries to go along with his six touchdowns.
“We're capable of putting up that many points every week but I definitely thought it would be closer than this,” said Shamrock sophomore quarterback Jagan Cleary, who finished 10 for 15 with 312 yards and three touchdowns.
The Eagles (9-2) opened the game with a quick 13-0 lead after Cleary's pass was intercepted and returned 75 yards for a touchdown by Scottsdale Christian's Chaz Dudley five minutes into the game.
“Of course I was mad about that, but that was all on me. I misread the coverage,” Cleary said.
For the first time all season, the Shamrocks (11-1) trailed by two possessions and appeared rattled.
“Definitely a wake-up call and that's what we needed,” said Shamrock senior Andy Determan, who finished with two catches for 128 yards and a touchdown.
“You talk all week about the sense of urgency and the type of team they're going to play, but obviously it didn't sink in until they got hit in the mouth. Then we decided to play football,” Yuma Catholic coach Rhett Stallworth said.
What followed was one of the best offensive displays of the season for the Shamrocks, who outscored the Eagles 66-6 during a stretch that spanned three quarters after Hazlett scored on a 30-yard touchdown run to make it 66-19 midway through the third. The offensive line, which came into the game undersized against the large Eagles, opened up holes all night for Hazlett, who went into halftime with 194 rushing yards and five touchdowns.
“I think the O-line really came to hit and did what we needed to do. We knew we're going to be the smaller team going into this game and we had the intensity to make it happen,” Shamrock senior offensive lineman Glen Justice said.
“You can be as big as you want, but it comes down to heart and how bad do you want it,” said Hazlett, who now has 2,373 rushing yards and 32 touchdowns on the season.
The Shamrocks' defense caused four Eagles turnovers on the night. Junior defensive lineman Marco Perricone intercepted a tipped ball in the first quarter, and Hazlett scored a 30-yard touchdown on the following play. Senior linebacker Brandon Moreno intercepted a pass in the second quarter and returned it inside the Scottsdale 10-yard line. Hazlett scored his fifth touchdown two plays later.
Sophomore defensive back Donovan Rooks intercepted a pass on the second play of the second half then jumped on a Scottsdale fumble on the Eagles' following possession.
“Our D-line put some pressure on the quarterback and made him throw from some awkward positions,” Stallworth said.
The Shamrocks have scored more than 70 points three times this year and advance to the semifinals to play No. 1 Northwest Christian, which beat St. Johns in the other quarterfinal. The Crusaders and Shamrocks face off at 7 p.m. Saturday at Arcadia High School in Phoenix.
It will be the seventh time the two teams have played in the past four years, including the Crusaders' 16-14 win in the season opener. Despite the monster game by Hazlett against Scottsdale Christian, the senior running back still has his eyes on one thing.
“It doesn't matter about the stats right now,” Hazlett said. “Let's get back to the state championship.”
Jesse Severson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 539-6881. Find him on Facebook.com/YSJesseSeverson