The Cactus Cobras had an emotional week as they prepared for west side rival Sunrise Mountain. Head Coach Larry Fetkenhier was hospitalized and needed to have emergency surgery this week and as a result, was not on the sidelines for the 11th seeded Cobras opening round tilt with the Mustangs.
His players would dig down and play inspired football on Friday night leading them to a 45-38 upset win over the sixth seeded Sunrise Mountain.
Earlier this season, Sunrise Mountain defeated Cactus for the first time in it’s school history. So the Cobras wanted to come out and set the tone early and that is exactly what they did. They would break out to a 21-0 lead out of the gates but that is just when the fire works began. Both teams would combine for four touchdowns in the last five minutes of the first half which included a Nate Flores kick return for Sunrise Mountain in the closing seconds of the half which brought the game within in six, 28-22.
The Mustangs would cut the Cobras lead to just one in the third after Garrett Veldhuizen broke free for a 46 yard touchdown. But that is as close as they would get.
“We’ve been in some close games with these guys,” Guerra mentioned. “They are a tough team. But we fight through adversity. We have fought through adversity this entire season. We never believe we are out of it.”
Three unanswered touchdowns by the Cobras since the lead was cut to one created the separation to put this one to bed. Two of the scores were beautifully thrown touchdown passes from the arm of Guerra first to Williams Uriah and then to Xavier Villarreal.
Cactus showed they could thrive despite adversity from seeing their big lead fall to just one in the game and also before the game even started in suiting up without their coach.
“To go out there and play for him, it was just wonderful,” said Cactus Quarterback Preston Guerra after the game. “I am glad we got the win and I am glad he will be able to coach next week. We’re fighting for him and we’re glad he is ok.”
Next week Cactus will take on the undefeated Tempe Buffaloes who knocked off Higley in the opening round on friday night and will square off with the state’s new all-time leading passer in quarterback Emanuel Gant.