ELOY — Anyone who has attended a Santa Cruz Valley home game this season, has also witnessed an impressive pyrotechnic display courtesy of the Eloy Fire District.
While the fire department arrived late to the party during Friday’s 2A play-in round matchup, there was no shortage of fireworks on the field courtesy of the Dust Devil defense as they cruised to a 60-6 victory over Phoenix Veritas Prep.
Santa Cruz entered the game coming off a bye week, after their game against Chandler Prep was canceled.
“It was more of just trying to rest up,” Santa Cruz coach Rishard Davis said. “After that ACP game there were a lot of guys, like Steve (Calvin), their ankle was hurting and David (Avilez), his hip was hurting. I’m kind of glad we didn’t play last week because we needed to heal up and focus on their grades too. They kind of lose focus on the school part throughout the year, so they were able to do that.”
Santa Cruz started the game with a 10-play drive that ended in a 3-yard touchdown run by Wyatt Ogle.
It wouldn’t take long for Ogle to get his second touchdown of the game as he picked off Veritas Prep quarterback Will Jakubczyk on the Falcons’ first play of the game for the 23-yard score.
The Falcons struggled on offense, as they only got two plays off on their next drive before Jakubczyk was picked off again, this time by Orlando Davis Jr.
Santa Cruz didn’t need much of its powerful running game early on, as Ogle showed off his arm and hit Dylan Hukill for a 49-yard reception as the senior tight end was stopped at the 1-yard line.
Hukill was rewarded for his efforts as Ogle tossed him the ball on the next play for the score to make it a 20-0 game.
The second quarter featured the Dust Devils’ unstoppable run game as Ricardo Alaniz charged down the field for a 75-yard touchdown run.
Alaniz had four carries for 116 yards and the one touchdown.
Veritas Prep’s only score of the game came on a 88-yard kickoff return by Marko Vuletic.
But even after the Falcons got on the board, there was no sign of worry from the Dust Devils as the Ogle brothers took over.
It only took four plays for Santa Cruz to score, Hunter Ogle carried the ball three times for 53 yards, including the 23-yard touchdown and Wyatt Ogle found Orlando Davis Jr. for a 32-yard reception.
Hunter Ogle had the one touchdown and rushed for 139 yard on 19 carries.
Defensively the Dust Devils were shorthanded without two of their long-time defensive anchors in Diego Castillo-Lopez and his twin brother Juan Castilo, but Mauricio Lopez and Robert Maldonado came up with some big stops for loss of yardage against Veritas Prep.
“Elijah (Tellez) he did very well tonight, Taz (Gil) and Robert, it’s pretty much going to be the same guys next year so that’s promising when you think about it,” Rishard Davis said. “These guys they just want to play ball, they don’t really buy into the dynamic that’s around the game and stuff like that, they just want to play ball and do their best every game.”
Hunter Ogle also intercepted one of Jakubczyk’s passes which eventually led the way to a Steve Calvin 11-yard touchdown run as he bulldozed his way into the end zone.
The first half ended with the Dust Devils leading 39-6, as Wyatt Ogle grabbed his second interception of the night.
Wyatt Ogle finished the night with three interceptions on defense. At quarterback, he threw for 103 yards on 5 of 6 passing with one touchdown, and he rushed for 48 yards on seven carries for two touchdowns.
“I think he’s just starting to feel more comfortable,” Rishard Davis said. “Even on offense he’s feeling a little bit more comfortable. I know he had some mishaps tonight but they were stacking 10 in the box and then they had to throw it because we were stopping the run. They have to step up like that and they have to be ready and know that the ball has to go in the air because our players inside the box are taking care of business.”
Santa Cruz opened the second half with an onside kick that was recovered by Calvin. The drive ended with Calvin in the end zone on an 8-yard carry.
Later in the game, Orlando Davis Jr. grabbed his second interception of the game and Calvin had a big 41-yard run. Uncharacteristically, however, the Dust Devils did not score on that drive and turned the ball over on downs.
That didn’t matter, as Alaniz recovered a fumble by Veritas Prep on the next play, which eventually led to a 15-yard touchdown run by Wyatt Ogle as Santa Cruz led 53-6 with 1:12 remaining in the third quarter.
The Dust Devils kicked off and Veritas Prep attempted a lateral pass on the return, Hukill came flying in out of no where and ran it into the end zone for the touchdown, leaving the Falcons stunned.
Veritas Prep’s final shot for a touchdown came as the game clock expired as Jakubczyk threw a 7-yard pass to Mason Williams in the end zone, but Williams was ruled out of bounds.
Jakubczyk threw for 78 yards on 9 of 26 passing with six interceptions.
“I can never tell coming out,” Rishard Davis said of the final score. “The coaching staff, we all talk about it, we have butterflies before the game because we don’t know what to expect and we don’t know what team we’re going to put on the field, sometimes we play a full focused game, sometimes it looks like we don’t, and at the same time they’re still teenagers. I worry about them, just the mental side of them not being ready to play, but they were tonight.”