Originally Published: September 13, 2014 12:17 a.m.
PRESCOTT, Arizona - The Prescott football team has been on a rollercoaster the first three games of the season.
In the season opener, the Badgers zoomed to the summit by manhandling Lakeside Blue Ridge, 55-7, the defending Division 4 state champion's first home loss in eight years. A week later, Prescott dipped to the bottom after a 54-7 setback to Division 3 powerhouse Goodyear Desert Edge. Friday night, the Badgers (2-1) whooshed to the top again after a 56-3 rout of winless Buckeye Youngker (0-3).
Prescott coach Cody Collett is tired of the ups and downs. He wants his team to get off the ride.
"I can't emphasize enough how important consistency is for us," he said. "That doesn't start on Friday nights. It grows day in and day out, rep in and rep out. We have to establish it everywhere on the team."
Senior running back Skylor Clinton has been consistently outstanding. On the first play of the game, he sprinted 69 yards along the left sideline for a touchdown. In the second quarter, he made the game a blowout with scoring runs of 20 and 38 yards and an 87-yard kickoff return for a TD.
"Our linemen really opened the holes for all of us," said Clinton, who was hardly touched on all four of his touchdowns. Junior running back Justin Castro raced 55 yards for a score in the second period when the Badgers scored 28 unanswered points to take a 46-3 lead at halftime.
"They've [Clinton and Castro] developed into a two-headed monster for us," Collett said.
Clinton gained all of his 172 rushing yards in the first half on just 12 carries, some of them out of the wildcat formation when the ball is snapped directly to the running back instead of the quarterback. Castro finished with 93 yards on eight rushes.
"I'm an Arizona State guy," Collett laughed, "so I like to call that formation something other than wildcat [University of Arizona's nickname]. It's a big part of our offense."
In three starts, Clinton has rushed for 470 yards (156.7 average per game). He is averaging 13.1 yards per carry and has scored nine touchdowns. Castro has 220 yards on the ground with an 8.7 average per rush.
Collett had high praise for the Badgers' special teams, which produced 12 points against the Roughriders. In the opening quarter, Elijah Smith, a 6-foot 5-inch senior, blocked his second punt this season, and teammate Zane Galpin scooped it up and raced 26 yards to give the Badgers an 18-0 cushion.
"That was the fourth blocked punt of Elijah's career," Collett said. "We work really hard on it. He ran to a spot rather than to the ball. That's what we teach. He has a real knack for blocking kicks."
Prescott's defense stifled the visitors, who ended up with 0 yards net rushing and 90 yards passing. The Badgers sacked Roughrider quarterback Henry Smalls three times and picked off a pair of interceptions by Austin Mengarelli and Ivan Teskey.
The Badger reserves played most of the second half, adding 10 points on a 64-yard scamper by Marco DiMaria and Daniel Habecker's 26-yard field goal, his second of the game.
The Badgers will open their Section 4 season at home next Friday against Flagstaff, which handed Prescott a heartbreaking 2-point loss last season.
"They are very sound fundamentally," Collett said. "I was very impressed by their schemes. It will be a big challenge for us."
And, Collett hopes, a less topsy-turvy ride for the Badgers.