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Thu, Dec. 05

Cougars find footing in 50-0 victory over Tuba City
Prep Football

Chino Valley defenders stop a runner as the Cougars hosted Tuba City Friday, Sept. 6, 2019. (Les Stukenberg/Courier)

Chino Valley defenders stop a runner as the Cougars hosted Tuba City Friday, Sept. 6, 2019. (Les Stukenberg/Courier)

CHINO VALLEY — Chino Valley football can finally exhale a big sigh of relief as it crushed Tuba City 50-0 on Friday night for its first win of the season.

“It feels good to finally get that monkey off our back,” said Chino Valley head coach Wade Krug. “We had a really good week of practice and we just came out and we just focused on doing the fundamentals and getting everything done that we needed to get done for this week.”

Both Chino Valley and Tuba City went into Friday’s game in search of their first win of the season. Last week, powerhouse Valley Christian battered the Cougars 46-0 while Tuba City suffered a similar fate, falling to Red Mesa 40-12.

However, the Warriors couldn’t seem to handle the Cougars’ swarming defense in Friday’s game as they were pressured into a myriad of sloppy snaps. This gave the Cougars plenty of opportunities to force the Warriors into plenty of turnovers that ultimately led to scoring plays.

On Tuba City’s first possession of the game, Warriors’ running back Seth Brown got caught in the end zone after a miscued snap, allowing junior Collin Knight and senior J.R. Willingham to team up for the tackle and give Chino Valley the two-point safety for their first lead of the game.

Once the Cougars had smelled blood, there was no looking back from there as only a few plays later, quarterback Jayden Smith made his presence known. The sophomore starter was able to find a wide-open Willingham, who comfortably trotted in the first touchdown of the night to extend the Cougars lead to 9-0.

Chino Valley’s onslaught continued well throughout the first quarter, especially when wide receiver Dante DeBono got his legs beneath him. DeBono essentially broke the game open when he caught a punt, bobbled it and then tore down 40 yards for the touchdown.

“I just saw my holes. I muffed the punts but I recovered from them. I got in, saw my holes, made by cuts and just took it into the end zone,” DeBono said on taking whatever the Tuba City defense threw at him.

With a 16-0 lead, DeBono went on to make a couple more good runs that fueled the Cougars’ momentum. After sitting out the first two games due to disciplinary issues, key senior MLB Trevor Gianfrancesco returned to action for Chino Valley, providing the team with a much needed boost of energy, which resulted in a 36-0 lead by the end of the first quarter.

“This was Trevor’s first game back and he was hungry to play,” Krug said. “He just wanted to come out and play defense and just hit people and just fly around and he was excited to be out there. He also ran the ball and got some yardage. He holds our defense down and was the leader of that defense. They just feed off his energy.”

From the second quarter on, the Cougars took their foot off the gas offensively but the defense stood its ground as it held Tuba City to only two first downs the entire game. Smith, sophomore RB Layne Malave and junior WR Kamren Loftin also scored one touchdown each en route to the 50-0 blowout.

As satisfying as this win must have felt for the Cougars, DeBono said there is still a lot of season left to be played and the team must take the positives from this game and apply them to the tougher ones down the road.

“We’re definitely going to have to play a lot harder. We’re definitely going to have to come together as a team more,” DeBono said. “We have to practice harder, put it all out there, 100% everyday and just build the program to get better and better.”


Chino Valley will head out on a two-game road trip starting with a match-up against Camp Verde on Friday, Sept. 13. The next one after that will be against Arizona College Prep on Sept. 20.

Aaron Valdez is a sports reporter for The Daily Courier of Prescott News Network. Follow him on Twitter at @Valaaron_94. Email or call 928-445-3333, ext. 2031.

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