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Harvest prep needs win to stay in race
The Harvest Prep Academy football team trailed by six points in the fourth quarter last week at Mayer-Orme.
Then injuries caught up with the Eagles and the wheels fell off. Orme scored two touchdowns in the fourth quarter for a 36-16 victory.
Now the Eagles (2-2) are fighting for a chance to get into the 8-Man Arizona Charter Athletic Association 2A playoffs when they face undefeated Apache Junction-Apache Trail at 7 p.m. today at Ray Kroc Complex.
“We talk about it a lot, but I think it's more individually. I think about it a lot because I really want to go to playoffs,” senior running back Ruben Anaya said.
Anaya was one of several Eagles who went down with an injury against Orme last week. Early in the third quarter, Anaya took a handoff up the middle and two Orme defenders combined to tackle him. By the time he got up, his bell had been rung.
“That's what made me think he wasn't good to go, because he hardly ever fumbles, especially in the open field,” Harvest Prep coach Nathen Baker said.
Anaya had rushed three times for 53 yards before his night was ended prematurely. However, Baker said Anaya was cleared by the doctor, so the Eagles' top running back will be able to play against Apache Trail. The same can't be said for junior defensive end Armando Moreno, who had his season ended by getting his third concussion in two seasons.
“That's a big hole to fill, so somebody's got to step up,” Baker said.
As far as the CAA playoffs go, Baker said the top four teams in the division go to the postseason and warned about looking at the right place for standings. According to MaxPreps, which Baker said most of his players look at, Apache Trail is in first place and Harvest Prep is in third. However, according to the official CAA website, Apache Trail is in third place and Harvest Prep is in fifth — currently on the outside looking in as far as the playoffs are concerned.
“If we handle our business, it won't matter if (Orme) beat us. But if we start to slide, looking back, it could be the game that started it,” Baker said.
Last season, the Eagles were 3-1 after winning by forfeit, dropped three straight and ended the season 4-4.
“I don't want that to happen again,” senior free safety Anthony Messer said.
Messer will have his hands full on defense this week, since the Wolfpack (3-0) have last year's player of the year in 6-foot-1 senior receiver Kevin Box. Last season — playing for Imagine Prep-Superstition — Box had five catches for 173 yards and three touchdowns in a 30-24 win over Harvest Prep.
“I remember the first play — the first play — he scored a touchdown on me,” Messer said. “It's a combination of his height and his speed. I've seen good receivers but they have stone hands and he's got some hands on him.”
“We're going to have to give a couple of different looks at him — and their offense as a whole. You can't just focus on just him,” Baker said. “If you don't have that safety over the top and you just have him on one-on-one coverage, that's when he has the capability of killing you.”
In order to make the postseason for the first time in the school's brief history, the Eagles have some work to do — and it starts with a win over a team with the best defense in the conference. The Wolfpack have allowed an average of just over 20 points a game. But Harvest Prep quarterback M.J. Ybarra isn't too worried.
“No matter what Goliath is in front of us, I believe we can take them down.”
Jesse Severson can be reached at email@example.com or at 539-6881. Find him on Facebook at facebook.com/YSJesseSeverson.