Originally Published: September 28, 2011 10:17 p.m.
The Prescott High School football team hopes to generate some more home cooking when it returns to Bill Shepard Field for a two-game stand starting at 7 p.m. Friday against winless Division I opponent Phoenix O'Connor.
Last week, the Division II Badgers dipped to 2-3 overall and 1-1 in Section III following a gut wrenching 21-15 loss to Cactus Shadows in Cave Creek.
PHS clung to a 15-13 lead in the second half before committing a costly turnover late in the fourth quarter and losing after a lengthy Falcons touchdown drive. Ultimately, Prescott failed to put points on the board in the red zone three times in the game, including twice in its scoreless second half.
"We kind of shot ourselves in the foot," Prescott coach Steve Moran said. "I felt we left 21 or 22 points on the field. We got inside the red zone and didn't capitalize on it. We missed some extra points. We missed a field goal. We just didn't get the job done."
With the setback, D-II No. 32-ranked Prescott dropped to 0-3 on the road. But the squad is 2-0 at home, and it now has an opportunity to build on that.
"I expect us to bounce back. I'm disappointed in the last game, but I still feel good about where we're at, and the kids are motivated," Moran said. "We now have to somehow get them to reach out and step up to another level. They have to learn how to think and play fast at the same time."
On offense, Moran said he will stick with senior Brad Hall at quarterback this week. Hall completed 10-of-24 passes for 146 yards and a TD last Friday. But the coach added that junior Nick Rock is "ready to go at any time" if necessary.
Hall agreed with Moran about the need for the offense to produce in the red zone while not committing turnovers.
"Last week the offense played really well, even though we just didn't punch it in when we needed to," Hall said. "We need to clean up the mental errors and stay focused all 48 minutes. We just can't take a snap off."
On the injury front, Moran said starting senior linebacker Drew Hicks (knee) should come back to practice next week after missing the first half of the season. However, starting senior lineman Rudy Acosta (pneumonia) - a key cog on both sides of the ball, particularly on a depleted d-line - will return Friday.
"It feels really good to be back right now," said Acosta, who's been out the past two games. "After missing so long, I've had this feeling like I just want to get back in and play the game."
Although O'Connor's had a tough schedule, it's 0-5 overall. The Eagles have lost their past two games in blowouts, including 50-0 at D-I No. 4 Brophy Prep and 48-0 at home to D-I No. 9 Anthem Boulder Creek.
"O'Connor is a good team, regardless of what their record is," Hall said. "We're just really looking forward to a good challenge and the opportunity to prove to people that we're better than the way we've been playing."
At quarterback, O'Connor opened the season with senior Brendon Erickson, who completed 37-of-79 passes for 341 yards with three TDs and five interceptions through the first three games, according to maxpreps.com.
Junior Jared Melson came on in Week 4 and struggled in the two losses to Brophy and Boulder Creek, completing 9-of-31 passes for 96 yards and four picks.
The Eagles seem to run a balanced offense, but they've rushed for a total of only 431 yards and three TDs.
Erickson is O'Connor's leading rusher with 136 yards on 29 carries and a TD. Junior Zach Davis follows with 85 yards on 35 carries and a score.
Moran said the O'Connor offense focuses on the run. But it is complex, featuring 13 or 14 different formations.
"They move a lot of people around with motion and what we call trading - they trade their wing backs, they trade their tight end and reposition them before the play starts," he said. "When you boil it down, they like to run between the tackles a lot and they want to keep you guessing on the outside a little bit there."
Mayer (3-2) at Orme (2-3), 7 p.m. Friday
This annual rivalry match-up has intrigue now that both clubs have bounced back from rough starts.
The Division VI No. 11-ranked Wildcats are in the hunt to qualify for the state playoffs, provided they finish strong. Meanwhile, the No. 14 Warriors have an outside shot at the postseason after their 48-44 victory at Ash Fork last week.
This could be a pivotal game for both clubs, although Mayer will have an easier road in the coming weeks.
After Friday, the Wildcats finish the season at Ash Fork (2-3) next Thursday and at home against Fredonia (1-4) Oct. 14. Orme ends the campaign by hosting Glendale Rancho Solano Prep (1-4) next Friday and traveling to No. 2 Joseph City (5-0) Oct. 14.
Bagdad (4-1) at Salome (4-1), 7 p.m. Friday
D-VI No. 8 Bagdad got a wake-up call at home last Friday after receiving a 64-16 drubbing from No. 4 Joy Christian.
It doesn't get any easier this week when the Sultans go to No. 7 Salome (4-1), whose lone loss came at Mayer
The good news for Bagdad is that it concludes the season with home games against winless Littlefield Beaver Dam (0-5) next Thursday and No. 10 Phoenix Valley Lutheran (3-2) Oct. 14.
Chino Valley (1-4) at Bullhead City Mohave (2-3), 7 p.m. Friday
D-IV Chino Valley has lost in three straight blowouts to Cottonwood Mingus, Camp Verde and Bradshaw Mountain.
Whether the Cougars find a way to rebound at D-III Mohave is anyone's guess. Last week, the Thunderbirds beat Kingman 25-19 for their first win since Sept. 2.
At least Chino can take solace in the fact that, after Friday, it will play three of its final four games at home against Flagstaff (2-5) next Thursday, Mohave Valley River Valley (3-2) Oct. 21 and Flagstaff Coconino (2-3) Oct. 28.
NOTE: The Daily Courier will publish a preview on the Glendale Deer Valley vs. Bradshaw Mountain game on Friday.