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Raiders top defending champ Kings
Cibola's scoring problems are over. Kofa's defensive problems aren't.
The Raiders scored just three less points Friday than they had all season in a 44-22 win over the Kings in the 5A Gila Valley Region opener for both teams.
The loss was the fifth straight for the defending region champion Kings (1-5 overall, 0-1), who have given up more than 40 in each loss. Cibola (2-4, 1-0) hadn't scored more than seven points in any of their last four games - all losses - but got five touchdowns alone from running back Roy Thompson, who had 224 yards on 35 carries.
Coach Lucky Arvizo said the left side of the offensive line - Robin Acevedo and Ryan VanHorn - played particularly well.
"Roy ran hard, hit the hole hard, but he'll be the first one to tell you his O-line and his blockers up front created that. Obviously he shares that with the rest of the team."
Kofa had a chance to take the lead early in the third quarter after holding the Raiders to a three-and-out and trailing 20-14. But on the first play of the ensuing Kofa drive, Tevin Alford - who earlier in the game had a 75-yard scoring run - fumbled the ball and Kyle Heredia recovered. The Raiders ran 10 plays - all Thompson runs - to cover 40 yards, including converting two third downs and a fourth to go up 27-14.
Kofa fumbled on its next possession when quarterback Lucky Castaneda was sacked by Leo Aranda and coughed up the ball, recovered by Blake Brazeel. Cibola couldn't get a first down, but got a 29-yard field goal from Dylan Arviso to pad the lead.
Cibola added two touchdowns early in the fourth after the Kings still couldn't muster much offense, with Castaneda under constant pressure from the Raider defense.
"They weren't bringing more than five guys, and we've got five offensive linemen," Kofa coach Kevin Moore said. "Our five offensive lineman need to block the five guys they're bringing. When we don't do that, we're going to struggle moving the ball offensively."
The final Raider score was on a 53-yard run from Thompson, his only run of the night of more than 20 yards.
"We've progressed each and every week," Arvizo said. "Our guys up front and our running backs have gelled throughout the weeks, and they all came together tonight. Dylan threw well when he needed to and the receivers caught well. Everything worked well for us."
Cibola scored on its second possession after holding Kofa to two three-and-outs. Thompson had a 9-yard run to put the Raiders up 7-0 after the first. In the second, Thompson capped a 34-yard drive with a 17-yard run for a 13-0 lead after the PAT went wide left.
On the first play of the next Kofa drive, Tevin Alford had a 75-yard touchdown run - more than a quarter of the team's total offense for the night.
Cibola responded on a fourth-and-one play on the next drive. With the entire Kofa defense expecting run, Arviso found Jacob Guana wide open in the middle of the field for a 32-yard touchdown and a 20-7 lead.
Kofa added a touchdown with two seconds left in the half when Timmy Lee made a diving catch on a Castaneda throw to cut the lead to 20-14.
The Kings didn't score again until 1:20 was left in the game when Castaneda found brother Dominic Castaneda for an 11-yard score.
"Our defense has played well and they did again tonight," Arvizo said. "They had a couple big plays on us but our defense regrouped and played well the whole game."
Lee ran for 23 yards, while Alford had 89. Castaneda had more carries than those two combined, but had just 13 yards as he was sacked eight times. Arviso threw for 86 yards.
Despite the loss, Moore said the Kings aren't counting out a repeat championship.
"There's still four games to play," Moore said. "There's still a lot of football left, that's what we told our kids. We have to keep our heads up and play hard these next four weeks."