ELOY — If one looked at preseason rankings, the arrival of Gilbert San Tan Charter to Class 2A was supposed to put everyone else on notice. But Santa Cruz Valley didn’t get the memo.
The Dust Devils opened the pandemic-delayed 2020 season with a 61-0 blowout win over the Roadrunners on Friday. San Tan Charter just moved up to the Arizona Interscholastic Association after winning a Canyon Athletic Association state title last year.
Less than two minutes into the game, David Avilez ran for a 48-yard touchdown. Santa Cruz (1-0) never looked back, building a 34-0 lead at halftime.
Dust Devils coach Rishard Davis said he doesn’t pay attention to preseason rankings or what is being said on social media.
“I really don’t look at that,” he said. “I deleted my Twitter, so I’m not really buying into [sending a message]. We’ve got bigger goals this year, so this is just one step.”
Santa Cruz running back Hunter Ogle, the 2019 PinalCentral Player of the Year, picked up right where he left off, rushing for 246 yards and three TDs in the victory.
After the COVID-19 pandemic created havoc and shut down high school sports for much of the offseason, the Santa Cruz star had heightened anticipation for finally starting the season.
“We were pretty excited to come back out,” Ogle said. “We’ve been going hard at practice. All I can say is we’re going to come out and play hard every game, do what we can do. It feels pretty good to come back out and hit the field again.”
Ogle scored on a 30-yard run in the second quarter, a he had touchdowns of 32 yards and 45 yards in the third quarter. His third touchdown came with 3:37 left in the third quarter and gave the Dust Devils a 47-0 lead.
Ogle’s younger brother Wyatt Ogle, a junior, started at quarterback and also had a productive debut, throwing for two touchdowns and running for another.
Ricardo Alaniz had a 20-yard TD run near the end of the third quarter, and Max Rodriguez scored the final TD of the night for Santa Cruz with a 24-yard scamper with 6:22 left.
It was a dominating performance for the Dust Devils on both sides of the ball. The offensive line mauled San Tan Charter’s defensive front, as Santa Cruz rushed for 404 yards. Wyatt Ogle completed 2 of 4 passes for 30 yards and two TDs.
Hunter Ogle said he enjoys playing with his brother and watching him have success.
“We’ve got a good team,” said Hunter Ogle, always giving praise to his teammates. “I don’t want to be too cocky, but I feel like we can have a good season ... we’ve been playing together since sophomore year.”
The defense was highlighted by two sacks and a forced fumble from Robert Maldonado and an interception from Steve Calvin. Juan Castillo and Dylan Hukill also recorded sacks.
After this impressive start for Santa Cruz the expectations remain the same as always — to win a state championship.
“That’s always the goal,” Hunter Ogle said. “That’s what we’re here to do, what we’ve been working for since freshman year ... We have a good shot. It’s not going to be easy, but I feel like we do have a good shot.”