Estrella Foothills head coach Lamar Early has been stressing a family like environment this season for the Wolves.
Last week his best player Branden Leon was kicked out of their game against Parker for, essentially protecting his family, pulling a player off the pile after a hit. EFHS coaches and players insist no punches were thrown and there was little, if any, wrongdoing. Regardless, he could only stand and watch from the sidelines Friday night.
As most good families do, Leon’s teammates picked up the slack and eventually put away pesky Show Low 19-13 in south Goodyear to advance to the second round of the Division IV playoffs. The six-seeded Wolves improve to 8-3, while Show Low’s season ends at 5-6.
It appeared Foothills was headed to a relatively easy win with a comfortable 12-0 third quarter lead before Cougars sophomore quarterback Rhett Ricedorff connected on a pair of scores to talented junior wide receiver Quentin Clark. The second a 75-yard go pattern on third-and-15 to give the 11th-seed their first of the night.
Thankfully for the Wolves leading rusher Joe Logan was there to pick up slack and then some-taking a pitch from quarterback Jared Fleming and patiently following his blockers down the Foothills’ sidelines for a 72-yard fourth-quarter score and six-point lead after the successful PAT.
Midway through the fourth Show Low’s tying or go-ahead scoring threat stalled out deep in EFHS territory and the home team was able to melt the remaining few minutes after two key first downs.
A pretty impressive effort for a team who has struggled to advance past the first round of the playoffs. All without Leon who already has a scholarship offer from Arizona Christian.
“The boys bonded together,” Early said after the game. “They did it for him. They showed a no-quit attitude and got it done. I’m very proud of them.”