MARICOPA — Just about everything went wrong for Maricopa during its football home opener Friday. The result was a deflating 47-0 loss to Goodyear Millennium in a game sure to provide plenty of teachable moments for the Rams.
It was the first game of the year for the Tigers, who looked like a strong 5A contender in a dominating win. For the Rams, it was a night full of blown assignments and poor execution.
“We’ve got a lot of work to do,” Maricopa coach Brandon Harris said. “We did not do the things that we’re supposed to do, it showed, and so hopefully we learn from it ... We got our tails kicked. We deserve to get what we got, and we got it.”
Harris said the technique and execution was lacking. Maricopa, he added, should have used its team speed to its advantage instead of trying to go toe-to-toe physically with a bigger, stronger Millennium team.
Making matters worse was the starting field position on many of Millennium’s drives. The Tigers had several drives that began in Rams territory.
Millennium (1-0) was led by quarterback Jalan Early, who threw four touchdown passes and ran for another score. And while the Millennium defense registered seven sacks, Harris said offensive line play wasn’t the problem for Maricopa (1-1).
“They blitzed; we know what we’re supposed to do,” he said. “We have checks for their blitzes. It’s the same thing [Millennium] did last year, and we didn’t check to the plays we’re supposed to go to.”
Rams quarterback Daxton Redfern struggled, completing 14 of 25 passes for 120 yards and an interception. And because Maricopa dug an early hole, trailing 27-0 at the half, it neutralized running back Mister Chavis, who finished with 15 yards on seven carries.
One bright spot was the play of receiver Merhauti Xepera, who caught six passes for 86 yards.
Maricopa cornerback Ilijah Johnson had an interception, and Chavis returned a punt 54 yards in the fourth quarter.
Early scored the first touchdown on a 12-yard run in the first quarter, and Millennium added another score on a 20-yard return after a blocked punt to take a 14-0 lead heading into the second quarter.
Early threw an 18-yard touchdown on 4th-and-10 in the second quarter, which was a backbreaker. He added a 16-yard strike with 32 seconds left before the half to extend the lead to 27-0.
Harris was disappointed in the outcome and the poor execution but said the effort was there from his players.
“We’ve got to go back to work; we will, and we’ll be a better team next Friday, I promise you that,” he said.
Maricopa hosts Glendale Apollo (1-1) next week. Apollo lost 53-7 to Queen Creek Casteel on Friday.