Friday Night Rewind: Week 1

Week One brought plenty of drama, even hours before the games kicked off, so here are some things which caught my attention around the state in this week’s “Friday Night Rewind.”

Before I get started, please remember to use our #FridayNight360AZ hash tag each and every Friday on all your social media platforms this fall when you’re out at games.

One Last Ride…I was both happy and saddened to hear 2019 would be the final year on the sidelines for Dennis Bene, as the face of Tucson Salpointe football will step away whenever the Lancers’ season ends.

One of the lasting memories I have of him was a spring visit when he was simply beside himself at the way one college program (a big one) used and mis-led one of his players who they were recruiting at the time. His face was red with anger and his mini-tirade showed me not only the passion he has for his players but how much they truly mean to him well beyond the field of play.

You can also tell quite a bit about a coach in how they handle defeat, especially the toughest losses in the biggest games.

Salpointe came up short the past two years in the 4A Championship to Saguaro but Bene, as well as his team, showed tremendous class which, to me, truly portrays the type of program you’re running and the message you’re hoping your young group of men follow.

So after 25 years at the Catholic school tucked away in a quiet residential area in central Tucson, it’s time to move on.

“I’ve spent nearly half my life in the Salpointe football program,” Bene, who also played quarterback for the school, said Friday. “It’s just time for the next chapter in my life. I don’t know what lies ahead but I will forever grateful to the players, coaches, staff and administration for their commitment to our program over the past two decades.”

If you’ve read my content over the years, you know I’m far more into the story, and the journey which leads to the story, than the region championships and hoisting of gold footballs in December. 

Few have a better story than Dennis Bene.

The Stage Is Set…Two programs trending upward in a hurry in 2019: unbeaten Pinnacle and Horizon.

Pioneers’ defensive coordinator Andrew Hurley told me his defense was much-improved and Friday night I watched them manhandle Mountain Pointe in a 40-0 thrashing in Ahwatukee. When you take your team on the road and post statement wins over Perry and MP, it’s hard not to notice.

PHS’s defense held the Pride to less than 150 total yards and may have allowed MP into Pinnacle territory once the entire game from what I remember.

As for Horizon, the Huskies followed up their blowout at Marana in Week 0 with an even bigger win, this one over Higley.

— Jordan Hamm (@JordyHamm) August 31, 2019

This rivalry game next week at Pinnacle will definitely be a lot of fun.

Playing the Waiting Game…Here’s hoping the best for Pinnacle senior quarterback and Michigan commit JD Johnson who left early in the second half against Mountain Pointe with an ankle and possible Achilles’ injury. 

After sustaining the injury in-game, Johnson toughed it out through the first half and into the third quarter but his accuracy and mobility certainly suffered as he hobbled around on the field, as well as the sideline.

I spoke with him after the game and he expressed his left foot/ankle was “throbbing” and he was going to have both examined shortly.

Obviously, Johnson’s health will be vital if Pinnacle wants to take the final step of reaching the 6A title game after last year’s semi-final home loss to Perry.

I’m sure we’ll know much more on the severity of the injury by the end of the weekend.

Three and Out…Three scores caught my eye from Week One:

1. Hamilton 31-24 in a thriller over Highland. What can you say about the Huskies’ defense? One week after slowing down a short-handed Jack Miller in Scottsdale, Hamilton stopped Hawks’ sophomore quarterback Gage Dayley at the one yard-line on the game’s final play to seal a HUGE home win for Huskies’ second-year head coach Mike Zdebski.

— HamiltonGridironClub (@HuskiesGridiron) August 31, 2019

Hamilton hosts Arbor View (NV) next week and if they can stay perfect, I see a pair of 6-0 teams taking the field in early October when Jason Jewell’s Brophy Broncos, 21-0 winners at Shadow Ridge, make the trip to Chandler. 

2. Northwest Christian 45-17 over Yuma Catholic in a rematch of last year’s 3A state championship game. The result doesn’t surprise me as much as the actual score. NC head coach David Inness is one of the best in big games and taking his team to Yuma and pounding the Shamrocks is quite a feat, especially considering they held senior stud quarterback Gage Reese and the Yuma Catholic scoring machine to just 17 points on their home turf.

3. Chaparral 48-0 over Desert Mountain. Sure, the Firebirds have more talent than the Wolves but you’d expect DM, even without Conrad Hamilton who was sitting out after being ejected last week, to show a little more fight in their home opener. The before mentioned Miller accounted for at least four total touchdowns before sitting out most of the fourth quarter.

The ‘Birds not only won the game, it appears they won the pre-game twitter trash talking, as well.