CASA GRANDE – Having outscored its last two opponents by a combined total of 110-7, the Casa Grande Union football team is picking up steam.
Coming off a 55-0 win over Maricopa on Sept. 17 and last week’s 55-7 victory over Douglas, the Cougars will be looking to improve to 5-0 when they travel to Sierra Vista on Friday to battle a Buena squad that has lost three in a row. CG Union goes into the contest averaging 42.8 points and 367 total yards (217 rushing, 150 passing) while allowing 10.5 points.
“So far, we’ve done a really good job of being efficient on offense (mainly by keeping turnovers to a minimum) and tackling on defense,” CG Union coach Jake Barro said. “If we can do those two things, we should come away with a win.”
Buena (1-3) will be the third Class 5A team the 4A Cougars have faced this season. Since defeating Phoenix Barry Goldwater 41-0 in their opener, the Colts have struggled defensively in losses to Vail Cienega (34-7), Tucson Sunnyside (41-24) and Phoenix Mountain Pointe (68-26). Sunnyside has a 4-1 record and 6A Mountain Pointe is 3-2.
“Buena’s played some tough teams,” Barro said. “They have some good athletes with speed on both sides of the ball. We’ll need to keep their playmakers in check.”
The Colts average 24.5 points and 286 total yards (180 rushing, 106 passing) while allowing 35.8 points. They finished with 294 total yards against Mountain Pointe, rushing for 165 and passing for 129.
Buena’s top running backs are Andres Bonilla (5.0 average with two touchdowns on 48 attempts) and Jelani Brown (4.6 average with three TDs on 41 carries). Rashaud Armstrong averages 24.5 yards with one touchdown on six receptions and Keyon Taylor has 10 catches for 95 yards with one TD.
Buena has used three quarterbacks. They have combined for two TD passes and eight interceptions.
In last week’s game against Mountain Pointe, Armstrong caught a 45-yard touchdown pass from Nash Moore and Bonilla had a 31-yard scoring run.
The Cougars were limited to 20 offensive plays from scrimmage against Douglas, mainly due to a running clock that began with 6:45 remaining in the second quarter after they went up 42-0. Four of CG Union’s five pass completions gained 21 or more yards and seven of their 13 runs netted 12 or more yards.
Angel Flores had TD passes of 45 yards to Anthony Flores and 21 yards to Deandray Kelley along with touchdown runs of 47 and 14 yards. The other rushing TDs came from Nathan Long (40 yards), Kevin White (20 yards) and 5-foot-10, 265-pound center Nick Anaya (1 yard).
“That was a cool moment for him and the team,” Barro said of Anaya’s TD. “He’s always wanted to carry the ball and I told him if the opportunity presented itself, we’d think about it.”
Other big plays for the Cougars were Dee Azcueta’s 45-yard punt return touchdown along with an interception, an interception by Andon Diaz (his team-leading fifth) and sacks by Derrick Kuykendall and Grant Johnson.
Douglas had minus-62 total yards at halftime as 12 of its 27 plays from scrimmage went for negative yards.
“The biggest positive from that game was our younger guys were able to get some reps and (the coaching staff) got a chance to evaluate them,” Barro said.
CG Union running back RJ Keeton might return to action – Barro said he is day-to-day — after missing last week’s game with an ankle injury. He averages 156.3 yards per game (8.1 per carry) and has scored seven touchdowns.
Angel Flores has completed 37 of 52 passes (71.2 percent) for 717 yards with 10 TDs and zero interceptions. He also averages 93.3 rushing yards per game (7.6 per carry) and has run for four touchdowns.
CG Union’s top receivers are Anthony Flores (22.3 average on 12 catches with five TDs) and Kelley (21.9 average on 10 receptions with four touchdowns).
The 140-mile jaunt to Sierra Vista is somewhat of a concern for Barro.
“When you have to travel that far by bus, it’s always tough,” he said. “We’ll leave early and break up the trip a little bit by stopping in Tucson so the kids can stretch.”
CG Union is 1-6 in the all-time series against Buena. The win came last season, when the Cougars prevailed 41-21 at Al Van Hazel Stadium.