CASA GRANDE — It’s an emotional week for seniors on the Vista Grande football team as they will suit up for the final time on Friday night against Phoenix Carl Hayden.
“It’s starting to affect them because they know they’re not going to play again,” Vista Grande coach Jon Roberts said. “We might have a couple that are getting some looks by some colleges but right now this probably going to be the last game for a lot of our seniors so it’s starting to hit them a little bit.”
Seniors such as Eric Forester, Tyrese Constable, Arnold Castro, Angelo Tapia, Conor Sullivan and others have been with the program since they were sophomores, and experienced first hand the struggles that come with losing seasons.
This year however, the Spartans are 5-3 and regardless of the outcome on Friday, the team will end with a winning record for the first time since 2015.
“It’s bittersweet but like a couple of our seniors have said, they’re not going to go out losing,” Roberts said. “This program has been losing for years and for them to actually have won some ball games and to win their homecoming, and to be basically competitive in almost every game is a huge increase in morale for the. They can leave the program with their heads held high. That’s something they have not been able to do the last few years.”
In his first year as a head coach, Roberts feels that it’s been a successful season simply because of the fact that those seniors can leave knowing that they’ve laid down the foundation for a program that is working on turning things around.
“We’re facing a good Carl Hayden team, they’re very competitive and they’re going to play to the very end,” Roberts said. “We’re both in kind of similar situations, Carl Hayden has been losing for the last couple of years too, they’re starting to win and this will be their first winning year in a while.”
Carl Hayden (5-4) runs a similar offense to the Spartans as the Falcons rely heavily on their run game to move the ball.
Through nine games, the Falcons have racked up over 2,200 yards on the ground and 40 touchdowns. Leading the way is Kendre Pride with 785 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns.
“We’re just going to practice and give it our best and we’re going see what happens,” Roberts said. “It’s a little bit of a weird game to scout because we do very similar things. We almost look like a carbon copy of each other offensively expect for that they’re just a little older. I think it’s going to be a very good game. It’s going to be very physical and the first team to crack is probably going to lose.”
The Spartans ended up with an unexpected bye last week after Yuma Kofa forfeited due to not have enough players available.
“(The week off) has helped us a lot,’ Roberts said. “We’ve had a couple of our junior and seniors get hurt and we had that time off to help them heal up for this last hurrah. It’s helped up quite a bit, we don’t have as many injuries as we normally have or guys nursing wounds coming into this game.”
Prior to that, Vista Grande finally managed to string together consecutive wins, after defeating Yuma 28-20. In that game the Spartans rushed for 253 yards and were led by freshman Fernando Moya, who ran for 147 yards and one touchdown.
Constable added two touchdowns and 112 yards. He also caught three of Darnell Castro’s five completed passes for 32 yards.
The sophomore quarterback completed 5 of 8 passes for 45 yards and one touchdown, which was a 4-yard pass to Angel Chaydez.