Speeding towards mid-November and it just seems odd we usually would be into the playoffs but instead still have (hopefully) two more weeks of the regular season before the real fun begins.
For now, here are few things which caught my attention from another crazy Friday night in the state of Arizona.
Despite losing their long-time head coach and over 40 seniors from their 2019 6A State Championship team, the Liberty Lions seem to have hit their stride, extending their win-streak to three with a hard-fought 36-25 road win at Pinnacle (2-3) Friday.
The Lions, now 4-2, were far from perfect and saw their second half lead evaporate but never lost focus and showed character and discipline on both sides of the ball down the stretch when it was all on the line.
“They’re just a great bunch of young men, resilient,” first-year head coach Colin Thomas said to Sports360AZ.com after the game. “They believe in the culture and they believe in what we preach. We just fought…we found a way.”
Regardless of how chaotic and uncertain 2020/this season has been, don’t EVER forget how much these players LOVE this game!! Big road win for @LibertyFBLions tonight is certainly reason to celebrate…#FridayNight360AZ pic.twitter.com/aPgr6JIfQA
— Eric Sorenson (@EricSports360AZ) November 7, 2020
The 2020 somewhat new-look Lions got what you call a baptism-by-fire start to the season in a 44-10 loss to Chandler but also learned a little bit about themselves in the process.
“They expose you pretty quick, right?,” Thomas quipped of the Wolves. “But we didn’t come in [that following] Saturday saying, ‘Oh my God, we’re horrible.’ It was more of, ‘How can we get better?'”
Senior quarterback Brock Mast has played well taking over the position full-time, while sophomore running back Zaccheus Cooper is a rising star.
Defensively, the trio of Jax Stam, Shane Pitts and Koltan Cortez are ball-hawking playmakers with smarts and plenty of experience.
4-2 Centennial at Liberty in two weeks is going to be a lot of fun.
Pinnacle may have come up short against Liberty but defensive end Anthony Franklin once again proved why he is a Power Five player.
The 6-foot-4, 255-pound Stanford commit was ridiculous against the Lions wreaking havoc in the backfield the entire game.
He first registered the single play trifecta (sack, forced fumble, fumble recovery) and then later followed that up with his second forced fumble and fumble recovery which set up the Pioneers’ first touchdown late in the third quarter and sparked a rally in a game Pinnacle at one point seemed to have in hand.
Anthony Franklin is a terror everyday in practice. Active hands, high motor, explosive first step.
6’4 255 & a 4.6GPA
Checkout @afranklin5754 snif out a screen, take a pursuit angle & catch a receiver on the sideline! There is never a play off for this dude!#VirtualAZFBShowcase pic.twitter.com/OQpjptueHV
— Paul Germinaro (@CoachGerm) May 13, 2020
Franklin may not get the love and attention of other defensive studs in State 48 but you’ll be hard-pressed to find a more technically sound and high-motor athlete at his position.
Three and Out
Three scores which caught my attention from Week Six.
1. Tucson Salpointe Catholic beats Mountain Ridge to improve to 4-0.
SCLancerNation – have you seen a back shoulder fade in high school? Treyson just threw a 12 yard back shoulder fade to “Elite” Barclay, their fourth connection of the night! PAT good, SC 31-14 5:11 3Q
— LancerNation (@SCLancerNation) November 7, 2020
I did not see this coming considering the off-season overhaul in and around the Lancers’ program.
Head Coach Dennis Bene – gone.
Bijan Robinson – gone.
Lathan Ransom – gone.
Bruno Fina – gone.
Jonah Miller – gone.
Nearly every defensive starter off arguably the most talented team in program history – gone.
However, junior quarterback and University of Arizona commit Treyson Bourguet is a star and first-year head coach Eric Rogers and his staff deserve a ton of credit thus far.
2. Cactus Shadows destroys Agua Fria to move to 4-0.
This score isn’t necessarily surprising but the fact the Falcons are flying this high might be. Cactus Shadows is usually a steady program with solid athletes but now there is an opportunity to catch even more statewide attention and respect as they finish the regular season against 3-1 Desert Mountain and 4-2 Sunrise Mountain – who pushed unbeaten Desert Edge to the wire Friday night.
3. Break up the North High Mustangs!
— The Az Sports Guru- Relles Abeytia (@theazsportsguru) November 7, 2020
In all seriousness, so happy the Phoenix Union District is able to strap on the pads and finally get back on the field this fall.
North needs only one more win to reach their total from last season.