FOOTBALL: Catalina Foothills stuns Sabino again.by Andy Morales on Nov. 13, 2010, under Sports
MORE PHOTOS OF THIS GAME: http://www.flickr.com/photos/andymorales
Catalina Foothills (7-4) tried a reverse-receiver pass on its first play and Falcon senior wide-out Shawn Kobylinski wound up scrambling for a minimal gain after getting smashed at the line of scrimmage on the broken play. A chorus of, “Not tonight!” rang down on him from the Sabino (8-3) sidelines.
Foothills quarterback Alyn Fletcher was sacked a few plays later by Jeremy Timpf to force a 4-6 situation and it looked like the chorus was right.
There was so much “bulletin board” material to go around before this first-round match that it appeared each team was focused on either revenge or pride to actually play the game.
Foothills started out their season with two wins but then lost four in a row to fall back to a typical 2-4 record. They lost to powers Salpointe, Cienega and CDO in that skid and they also lost to rival Sahuaro. It looked like another lost season.
Then, on October 15 the unthinkable happened…
Sabino started out with seven straight victories. A top four ranking was within their grasp. A top four finish means hosting their first two playoff games against lesser opponents. But then they traveled to Catalina Foothills…
Foothills won that game 31-28 and it changed the path each team would follow.
Sabino destroyed Flowing Wells in their next game (54-0) but then found themselves losing big to CDO (42-6). They fell to a 7 seed.
Foothills, on the other hand, won their next three games and were rewarded with a 10 seed when it looked like they would get none.
It was reported in the daily print media that words and phrases such as “dominate,” “redemption” and “blow them out” were used by Sabino to describe what would happen when Foothills made their playoff trip to Sabino.
Well, after each team had two possessions, it looked like none of those things would happen. Both teams appeared so tight that Sabino actually punted on 3rd down from their own 6 yard-line in an attempt to change field position. It didn’t seem to work.
The first quarter ended 0-0 and Sabino had the ball at their own 25 yard-line when Kobylinski drifted into a passing lane and intercepted a Nathan Brooks pass and returned it 25 yards for the first score of the game.
Sabino running back Sunthi Danh returned the kickoff 37 yards to set up the Sabercats in excellent field position at the Foothills 40 yard-line but Foothills forced a turnover on downs and knocked backup quarterback Dallas Brown out of the game on a 4th down running play.
The Falcons marched down and kicked a field goal to go up 10-0 and that’s how the first half ended.
The game was almost anticlimactic. There was no redemption and no blow out. The Sabino stands were filled to about 70% capacity and the Foothills faithful only numbered about 200.
This turned out to be the game of the week but for none of the reasons people thought it would be. Foothills linebacker Rolly Escarcega and Sabino linebacker Timpf were controlling the game. What promised to be an offensive display turned into a defensive struggle.
Then, in a flash, Fletcher ran 47 yards untouched to put Foothills up 17-0 with 9:546 left in the third quarter. There was a blow out brewing but it wasn’t from who we all thought it would be.
But, just as quickly, Brooks marched his team down and hit Nick Hawkins on a 30-yard bomb to cut the lead to 17-6 after the failed extra point with 7:03 left in the third.
Foothills punted and Sabino took over at their own 6 yard-line after a personal foul penalty was attached. Sabino was once again working against a long field and gave the ball back to Foothills in excellent position at Sabino’s 41.
Fletcher suffered a shoulder stinger in the following drive so AJ Muscarello took over and hit Nick Chronister on a crucial fourth down pass to give Foothills a first down at the 32. He then handed off to Esteban Escarcega for a 12 yard gain and then Esteban took the ball 20 yards up the middle to put Foothills up 24-6 with 1:38 left in the third quarter.
Sabino fumbled a couple of plays later and Reid Bentley fell on it at the 27 yard-line. The quarter expired and Foothills kicker Andrew Flores made a 41 yard field goal on the drive to give the Falcons a 27-6 lead with 10:13 left in the game.
When Kobylinski intercepted Sabino again to end another scoring opportunity it looked like the game was all but over and the Foothills fans were celebrating.
It got even more wild when Fletcher reentered the game and hit Kobylinski on a 77 yard touchdown pass a few plays later to go up 34-6 with 5:38 left in the game and Sabino’s season.
That’s when the “longest five minutes” in Foothills coach Scott Cortese’s life happened.
Sabino running back Mike Pineiro scored a touchdown after Brooks started to come alive with a 27 yard pass to Nathan Delfs after Ben Liwski ran the ball for 29 yards.
The 2-point conversion was no good and Sabino still found themselves down 34-12 with 3:34 left.
An onside kick worked and Danh scored again to cut the lead to 34-20 after a successful 2-point conversion. 34-20 with 2:51 left in the game.
Sabino would get the ball back and Brooks would score from two yards out to cut the lead to 34-26 with 26.1 seconds left in the game.
Sabino went for another 2-point conversion even though an extra point would cut the lead to seven but it worked and the lead was now only 34-26.
Foothills recovered the onside kick and the game was over.
Sabino had not achieved redemption nor did they blow out Foothills but they didn’t give up either. They fought to the very end and probably would have won had they recovered that last kick because Foothills had nothing left.
Foothills won its first-ever tournament game. Other schools like to marginalize Foothills by calling it a “country club” school based on its domination in swimming, cross country, tennis and golf. But it appears Cortese has begun to change that.
It may be short-lived this year however as the Falcon’s reward will be a visit to 2 seed Queen Creek next Friday.
“We had a good week of work and the intensity was high out there.” Rolly Escarcega.
“We played them before and we knew their schemes. I knew the play was coming so I sat back and intercepted it,” Kobylinski.
“We don’t have egos here, we just do what it takes.” Cortese.
“We need to start another week and get back to work.” Cortese.
“It was the longest five minutes of my life.” Cortese.
“This feels great. This is amazing. I can’t describe it.” Fletcher.
“We are moving on from this. It’s all about next week.” Fletcher.