Originally Published: August 17, 2018 6:05 a.m.
Badgers will need answers offensively to highly-rated Desert Edge defensive front
PRESCOTT — The journey toward qualifying for a 4A state playoff spot for the first time in six years begins tonight for the Prescott football team as the Badgers host Desert Edge.
GAMEDAY PREVIEW WEEK 1
Desert Edge Scorpions at Prescott Badgers
Date: Friday, Aug. 17, 7p.m.
Place: Bill Shepard Field, Prescott
Courier Coverage: Follow sports writer Brian M. Bergner Jr. on Twitter at @SportsWriter52 for updates on Friday night’s game.
Coaches: Prescott — Michael Gilpin (3rd Year); Desert Edge — Jose Lucero (4th Year)
Records: Prescott (0-0, 0-0 Grand Canyon); Desert Edge (0-0, 0-0 West Valley)
Last Week: Friday night’s game is the first for both teams.
Last Meeting: Desert Edge 54, Prescott 7 (Sept. 5, 2014, in Goodyear, Ariz.)
The Setting: Prescott started 0-3 at Bill Shepard Field in 2017 before finally beating Flagstaff 20-12 on Oct. 20, 2017, in Week 9. The Badgers finished 7-3 overall and missed out on the state playoffs for the fifth straight year.
Players to Watch: Prescott — QB Austin Clark, Sr.; RB Silas Espitia, Jr.; SS Colton Amos, Sr.; DE/TE Aaron Greene, Jr.; Desert Edge — QB Adryan Lara, Fr.; QB Tyler Henry, Sr.; RB Kody Ball, Sr.; MLB Milton Rodgers, Sr.; DT Nassir Sims, Sr.
Weather Forecast: 77 degrees at kickoff, 7 mph W, Sunset at 7:15 p.m.
Prescott (0-0, 0-0 Grand Canyon) head coach Michael Gilpin said the Scorpions are tough up front defensively, and are led by All-State and Pac-12 recruit Nassir Sims, a 6-foot-3, 285-pound senior defensive tackle.
“We have a few guys up front that can do work, we’re not going to concede, or give in. We have a lot of ways to attack them,” Gilpin said, adding everyone is healthy and ready to roll for Friday night’s Week 1 opener in Prescott.
Desert Edge senior quarterback Tyler Henry completed 22 of 59 passes for 425 yards and three touchdowns a season ago, but the Scorpions are expected to go with freshman Adryan Lara under center.
The Scorpions only threw the ball 80 total times last year, averaging just eight passes per game compared to 470 carries, or 47 per night.
Desert Edge (0-0, 0-0 West Valley) is new to the 4A conference this season, jumping down from 5A during the offseason after finishing 7-3 in 2017 and earning a No. 13 seed at state before losing to No. 4-ranked Notre Dame Prep. 49-7 a year ago.
Two seasons ago, Desert Edge earned a No. 4 seed at state, but were upset by No. 5 Centennial 21-6 in the second round.
With a difficult four-game stretch to begin the season, including two former 5A teams, Gilpin said going 2-2 against teams like Desert Edge, Canyon del Oro, Moon Valley and Deer Valley would set the Badgers up for region play.
“We’d be in a good position. It’s a calculated risk,” Gilpin said, adding that playing an easier schedule and going 4-0 may not prepare them for the stretch run, or help in the power points department at the conclusion of the regular season. But, he said, going 0-4 could hinder the team mentally, which is why he called it a “risk.”
Kickoff against Desert Edge on Friday night is set for 7 p.m.
Brian M. Bergner Jr. is sports editor for The Daily Courier. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram at @SportsWriter52, or on Facebook at @SportsAboveTheFold. Email email@example.com or call 928-445-3333, ext. 1106.