CASA GRANDE – Only once has the Casa Grande Union football team registered a perfect regular season, and that was 71 years ago.
The 8-0 Cougars are in position to match that monumental feat when they take on Phoenix Arcadia Friday night at Al Van Hazel Stadium.
“It would be a huge accomplishment,” CG Union coach Jake Barro said. “It’s very tough to come out undefeated. Our players have showed a lot of mental toughness in dealing with injuries and adversity in general.”
This is the 91st year the Cougars have been playing football. They went 10-0 in 1950 under coach Shanty Hogan and were awarded a mythical state championship, as there were no playoffs in those days. CG Union claimed another mythical state title in 1958, when Al Van Hazel led the team to a 9-0-1 record.
After clinching the Class 4A Kino Region title with last week’s 28-6 victory over Canyon del Oro in Oro Valley, the fourth-ranked Cougars be facing an Arcadia team that has won four straight. The Titans are 5-3 on the season and ranked No. 20.
Originally, CG Union was supposed to play Tucson Pueblo. But No. 37 Pueblo (3-5) had to cancel due to COVID-19 issues.
“At least we have a game,” Barro said. “And this should be a much better game (competition-wise) for us.”
Installing a new game plan on just a couple of days’ notice was somewhat tricky, but “I’m confident the kids will pick it up quickly,” Barro said. “Arcadia definitely gives us a different look than Pueblo, both offensively and defensively.”
CG Union had some glitches against CDO, losing two fumbles and getting two touchdowns negated by holding penalties. But otherwise, “we were pretty efficient when we had the ball,” Barro said.
The Cougars scored one TD in each quarter against a CDO team that entered with a five-game winning streak. RJ Keeton provided scoring runs of 6 and 5 yards. Quarterback Angel Flores reached the end zone on a 7-yard run and threw a 13-yard touchdown pass to Demetrius Garrett.
The lone score for the No. 15 Dorados (5-4) came with 3:28 left in the final period.
“It was great to get a tough game at this point,” Barro said.
CG Union averages 42.3 points and 441 total yards (231 rushing, 210 passing) while allowing 6.9 points.
The Cougars have shut out three opponents and allowed seven or fewer points in three other games. CG Union has outscored its last six opponents by a combined margin of 277-20. The most points surrendered by the Cougars is 21 (at Peoria on Sept. 10 in their second game) and their narrowest margin of victory is 12 (against Phoenix Sunnyslope in the Sept. 3 opener).
Angel Flores has completed 91 of 119 passes (76.5 percent) for 1,646 yards with 21 TDs and zero interceptions. He also averages 95.3 rushing yards per game (8.4 per carry) and has run for eight touchdowns and 762 yards.
Keeton has rushed for 11 TDs and 689 yards. He averages 137.8 per game (he missed three due to an ankle injury) and 8.2 per carry.
CG Union’s top receivers are Anthony Flores (18.1 average on 27 catches with eight TDs), Deandray Kelley (24.4 average on 17 receptions with eight touchdowns), Garrett (21.0 average on 19 catches with three TDs) and Kevin White (11.1 average on 14 receptions).
Arcadia averages 23.5 points and 292 total yards (79 rushing, 213 passing) while allowing 22.9 points.
Titans quarterback Rocco Mortensen has completed 47.9 percent of his passes for 1,441 yards, with 15 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. Arcadia’s top receivers are Brady Forst (27.5 average on 21 receptions with eight TDs), Chris Hoos (13.3 average on 26 catches with three TDs) and Lucas Rice (15.8 average on 16 receptions with two TDs). Ben Blanks also had two touchdown receptions.
Arcadia holds an 18-13-1 lead in the all-time series. The teams last met in 1994, with CG Union prevailing 27-2.