Citizen Staff Writer
PALO VERDE 60 CATALINA 16
With the de facto Class 4A Gila Region title being decided next week, Palo Verde and Santa Rita needed to hold up their end of the deal to make sure the two teams stayed unbeaten in region play.
Palo Verde started out slowly, but eventually churned out a 60-16 win over Catalina on Friday.
With Santa Rita winning convincingly as well, the two squads will settle the league title on the field for the second straight year.
The teams will meet at 7 p.m. at Palo Verde on Friday.
“They put themselves in a position and now they have a chance at it,” said Palo Verde coach Todd Mayfield. “We were in the same position last year and we didn’t get the job done. Hopefully, this year, we’ll do a little better.”
The Titans will need more intensity; they didn’t show much of it in the first half against Catalina. Palo Verde was up 19-16 with 48 seconds left in the first half, although the Titans (8-1, 5-0) went up 26-16 at the half after Ernesto Espinoza threw a 14-yard scoring strike to Camaren Gause.
Espinoza had quite a night against the Trojans, finishing with 213 yards passing and three touchdowns.
“We opened up a little bit,” Mayfield said. “They came after us on the inside tackles because they weren’t going to give us anything up front. We felt that was something they were giving to us, and so we went after it.”
Palo Verde’s Adam Hall was used sparingly in the effort, but still made plenty of plays. He had 101 yards receiving, including a 17-yard score in the first half.
Hall had a 62-yard scoring run on the first play of the second half to give the Titans some breathing room. His last play of the night was a 9-yard scoring run later in the third quarter.
In all, the Titans put up 28 points in the third.
“We’ve just got to come out with a little more intensity in the first half,” Mayfield said. “We just got to keep the wheel moving.”