CASA GRANDE — Putting it all together on both sides of the ball in any given game has been difficult for the Vista Grande football team.
The Spartans have yet to click on all cylinders, which is the main reason why they bring on 0-7 record into Friday night’s home finale against Tucson Catalina Foothills.
“We’re a very young group,” Vista Grande coach Chris Semore said. “I’m seeing some progress, but it’s happening slowly.”
With just seven seniors on the roster, the Spartans have had to rely primarily on underclassmen to make plays. Their lack of varsity experience prior to this year has resulted in erratic performances. Three of Vista Grande’s losses have been closely contested (7-0 to Tucson Amphitheater, 21-7 to Tucson Cholla and 23-16 to Phoenix Washington). The Spartans (0-2 4A Kino) have surrendered 50-plus points in three of their other four setbacks, including last week’s 56-7 loss to Casa Grande Union.
To have a chance against Catalina Foothills (2-4, 0-1), Vista Grande can’t afford to let the Falcons bolt to an early double-digit lead. The Spartans were forced to virtually abandon any semblance of a running attack after CG Union scored three touchdowns in the opening 8:11.
“You always want to possess the ball, finish drives and limit turnovers,” Semore said. “We didn’t do that last week.”
The Spartans average 7 points per game while allowing 35.9.
Junior quarterback Donald Altaffer completed 17 of 30 passes for 162 yards against the Cougars, with a 13-yard TD pass to senior Roberto Barrera and one interception. The week before, he was 23 of 45 for 278 yards against Combs, throwing a 41-yard touchdown pass to sophomore Tyrese Constable. Jace Atkins, a junior, had 11 catches for 151 yards in that game.
Altaffer also has been Vista Grande’s most effective runner, whether by design or scrambling. He netted 85 rushing yards against Washington, a single-game team best for the Spartans.
Semore believes his team can make it interesting against Catalina Foothills.
“I think our kids will be up to the challenge and play hard,” he said.
The Falcons average 14 points and 248 total yards (122 rushing, 126 passing) while allowing 14.6 points.
“They’re big up front, and they have skills guys who are pretty athletic,” Semore said.
Catalina Foothills lost 34-21 to No. 3 Oro Valley Canyon del Oro last week, hanging tough behind by reserve quarterback Will Parker (87 yards rushing, 87 passing). Parker replaced the injured Conner Alubowicz, who is 47 of 94 for 597 yards with six touchdowns and three interceptions.
Not knowing who will start at quarterback for the Falcons on Friday makes devising a defensive strategy that much more difficult because, “we have to plan for both guys,” Semore said.
Derrick Williams has six TD receptions for Catalina Foothills and averages 13.6 yards per catch. Garrick Krautz averages 16.2 yards on 13 receptions with one TD.
Vista Grande has next week off before closing with road games against 4A Kino opponents Canyon del Oro (6-0) and top-ranked Tucson Catholic Salpointe (5-0).