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Prep Football Previews: Badgers seek first road win at Cactus Shadows

Les Stukenberg/The Daily Courier<br /><br /><!-- 1upcrlf2 -->Prescott High junior quarterback Nick Rock (17) takes a snap during his first start in the first half against Phoenix Moon Valley on Friday. Rock completed 4 of 9 passes for 57 yards and rushed for 49 yards on five carries.

Les Stukenberg/The Daily Courier<br /><br /><!-- 1upcrlf2 -->Prescott High junior quarterback Nick Rock (17) takes a snap during his first start in the first half against Phoenix Moon Valley on Friday. Rock completed 4 of 9 passes for 57 yards and rushed for 49 yards on five carries.

PRESCOTT - Fresh off a 33-7 victory over Phoenix Moon Valley at home, the Prescott High School football team will be seeking its first road win this week when it tackles Cactus Shadows in a Division II, Section III clash.

Kickoff is at 7 p.m. Friday in Cave Creek.

The D-II No. 29-ranked Badgers (2-2 overall, 1-0 section) are locking horns with a winless Falcons club (0-4, 0-1) that has surrendered an average of 46 points to its first four opponents, including two D-I foes.

Prescott is 0-2 away from Bill Shepard Field, although it lost to two solid clubs in D-II No. 2 Glendale Deer Valley Sept. 2 and D-I No. 15 Anthem Boulder Creek Sept. 9.

"We'll be fine on the road," Badgers coach Steve Moran said Wednesday. "These kids are coming off a good win. But one thing they've got to learn is that when you win, you've got to refocus for the next one. They've been doing a pretty good job with that this week."

Prescott junior tailback Brady Mengarelli agreed, adding that the Badgers need an away victory.

"It's easy to win at home, but we've got to strap up and get tough on the road," he said. "The sooner we do that, we'll be fine."

Against Cactus Shadows, expect PHS to again grind it out on the ground behind senior halfback Dakoda Peterson and Mengarelli.

A month into the season, Moran is still deciding who will be Prescott's regular starter at quarterback, even though he likes both senior Brad Hall (6-1, 185) and junior Nick Rock (5-11, 150).

Hall earned the nod in PHS's first three games before he was sidelined last Thursday after jamming a finger on his throwing hand in practice.

Hall has completed 20-of-57 passes for 244 yards. But he's tossed just three touchdowns and an interception, which came in Prescott's season-opening win over Bradshaw Mountain Aug. 26.

Last week, Rock played well in his first start, although he admits that he must be more patient in the pocket. Despite chucking a pair of second-half picks, Rock went 4-of-9 for 56 yards and a TD. He also carried the ball five times for 52 yards.

"Me and Brad are different kinds of quarterbacks," Rock said. "I scramble a little bit more, and he can throw a great ball in the pocket."

Moran said he likely won't decide until Friday which QB will start, although Hall is now healthy.

"I could go with Rock or Brad right now, at any time," Moran said. "It's just a matter of who has the hot hand."

Since the Falcons have a one-dimensional spread offense dominated by the pass, whoever's starting at QB for the Badgers likely will aim to control the clock to avoid a shootout.

Through four games, Cactus Shadows junior QB Bryce Kinsler has completed 87-of-176 passes for an astounding 1,223 yards and nine touchdowns. But he's also thrown 14 interceptions, including six picks in a 43-12 loss at Queen Creek last Friday.

Moran said he plans to put pressure on Kinsler to hurry some of his passes. The coach will rely on speedy senior cornerback Reed Chiappetti and Mengarelli, who doubles at free safety, for their coverage skills.

On the health front for Prescott, only starting senior linebacker/cornerback Drew Hicks (knee) and senior lineman Rudy Acosta (ill) remain sidelined. Moran said Acosta could return next week. As reported last week, senior defensive lineman Clayton Lackey is out with a season-ending knee injury.

"We still have a little bit of sickness, but we're getting over that hump," Mengarelli said. "We have guys that step up, so it's not a problem. We have a great second team."

Joy Christian (4-0) at Bagdad (4-0), 7 p.m. Friday

In a battle of undefeated D-VI heavyweights, No. 4-ranked Bagdad hosts fifth-rated Glendale Joy Christian.

The winner of this game should help solidify its state playoff positioning in the top 5 of the D-VI power rankings since just six squads in the division remain without a loss heading into this week.

After Friday, only three contests are left in the season for the Sultans. Although Bagdad has had a soft schedule to this point, it has outscored its first four opponents by a whopping 231-12.

The Sultans finish the regular season by traveling to No. 9 Salome (3-1) next Friday before welcoming in Littlefield Beaver Dam (0-4) and No. 11 Phoenix Valley Lutheran (2-2).

Littlefield Beaver Dam (0-4) at Mayer (2-2), 7 p.m. Friday

Mayer has survived the tougher half of its D-VI season with a .500 record - and that's not half bad.

The No. 13 Wildcats registered a huge, confidence-building 58-38 upset win over ninth-ranked Salome at home last Friday to improve to 2-2. This week, they will take on a struggling Beaver Dam squad that's been blown out in each of its first four games.

Mayer concludes the regular season at rival Orme (1-3 record) Sept. 30 and at Ash Fork (2-2) Oct. 6 before playing host to Fredonia (1-3) in its finale Oct. 14.

Orme (1-3) at Ash Fork (2-2), 1 p.m. Friday

Orme should be able to breathe a little easier in its last four games of the D-VI season after succumbing to No. 7 Mogollon, No. 9 Salome and No. 5 Joy Christian in a brutal first half.

The Warriors wrap up a stretch of three straight road contests this week when they travel to Ash Fork, which lost 64-0 to Bagdad last Friday.

Orme returns home next week when it hosts Mayer. The Warriors' campaign winds down vs. Glendale Rancho Solano Prep (1-2) Oct. 7 and at No. 2 Joseph City (4-0) Oct. 14.

Editor's Note: The Daily Courier will publish a preview on this week's Chino Valley vs. Bradshaw Mountain game in Friday's Sports section.