Pat Nugent knows better than to give an opponent any edge.
So the Canyon del Oro High football coach tried to make it clear nothing should be read into the school’s scheduling homecoming festivities around Friday night’s game with Cienega, the Tucson Citizen’s Spotlight Game of the Week.
Nugent’s message fell on deaf ears in Vail.
“It’s a sign of disrespect,” said Cienega senior wide receiver Justin McMurray.
What happened last year was brutal for Cienega. On Sept. 28, 2007, at Cienega, CDO rolled to a 37-7 win. When the two met again Nov. 9 in the first round of the Class 4A Division I playoffs, CDO again cruised in a 38-7 home win.
Cienega senior quarterback Seth Mejias-Brean isn’t fond of revisiting the particulars of the playoff loss that ended his junior season.
“It just wasn’t good,” Mejias-Brean said.
Mejias-Brean completed 8 of 26 passes for 86 yards and two interceptions in the loss. Bobcats receivers also dropped eight passes and the defense surrendered 398 yards and 31 unanswered points.
“I’m a lot more comfortable this year with everything,” Mejias-Brean said. “I just need to stay calm, stay patient back there and we should do a lot better this time.”
CDO (4-1) has yet to allow a team to pass for more than 100 yards in a game this season thanks in large part to safeties Ka’Deem Carey, Griffin Ronstadt and Josh Robbins.
Still, it knows containing Mejias-Brean won’t be easy.
“Without question he’s the best quarterback we’ve faced,” Nugent said. “We’ll have our hands full trying to keep him contained.”
Mejias-Brean, a dual-threat quarterback, leads Cienega (3-1) in rushing (206 yards, six touchdowns) and has completed 63 percent of his passes for 796 yards and five touchdowns.
“I think fans can expect a low-scoring game for Cienega,” senior linebacker Paul Carter said. “He’s a pretty good quarterback, but I think our defense is going to be able to shut them down.”
For Cienega, a team full of returning players, the hope is its visit to CDO this season brings a very different result than the last one.
“We have a lot of leaders on this team,” junior receiver Trent Simon said. “And there are a lot of us that aren’t about to let what happened last year happen again.”
For more on high school sports, check out the Grammer School sports blog.
HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL SPOTLIGHT GAME
What: Cienega (3-1) at Canyon del Oro (4-1)
When: 7 p.m. Friday Where: Canyon del Oro High School
Friday night football schedule
Games begin at 7 p.m.
Catalina at Sahuarita
Cienega at Canyon del Oro
Cholla at Nogales
Empire at Globe
Ironwood Ridge at Sierra Vista Buena
Marana at Desert View
Mountain View at Salpointe
Palo Verde at Douglas
Pueblo at Peoria Liberty
Rincon/University at Casa Grande
Sabino at Amphi
San Carlos at Pusch Ridge
Santa Rita at Rio Rico
Sunnyside at Tucson High
Tanque Verde at St. David