Mitchell injured, Raiders blown away by Pride
PHOENIX — Cibola senior running back Jordan Mitchell stood at the end of a row of Raiders on the sidelines in the second quarter — his right hand holding his helmet and his left hand rested on his hip.
In his final game in a Cibola uniform, the star running back was forced to the sidelines after the first quarter and top-ranked Mountain Pointe rolled No. 16 Cibola into a 49-0 loss in the first round of the Arizona Interscholastic Association Division I State Playoffs. The injury occurred on one of the final plays on the quarter when Mitchell got hit on the right sideline — a play that resulted in a late-hit penalty.
“One guy went up top, another guy went down low and got my knee. I thought I just tweaked it but I tried to walk again and I couldn't really walk,” Mitchell said.
The image of the game was of Mitchell, standing with ice packed on his right knee and his helmet off, helpless because of the injury that ended his Cibola career three quarters too short. After the game, his eyes red, the burly running back talked about the pain he felt — not because of the injured knee, but out of the desire to be on the field.
“It hurt because I wanted to be out there helping my team win but I couldn't because my knee was messed up.”
It was a melancholy last game for Mitchell, who rushed for 33 yards on five carries in the first quarter and ended his career with 5,436 rushing yards and 68 touchdowns in three seasons.
“We evaluated him at halftime and he came out and warmed up in the second half and it was bothering him quite a bit,” Cibola coach Lucky Arvizo Sr. said. “He's the type of kid that if he could have gone, he would have been out there.”
Filling in for Mitchell was senior Alex Moreno, who finished with 15 carries for 54 yards. Cibola quarterback Lucky Arvizo Jr. went 10 for 17 for 54 yards and two interceptions, including one that was returned 75 yards by Mountain Pointe cornerback Ciyre Simmons in the third quarter.
Mountain Pointe senior running back Garette Craig rushed 10 times in the first half for 118 yards – most of which came from a 37-yard and 55-yard run.
With Mitchell on the bench, Mountain Pointe took full advantage of excellent field position Cibola provided for them in the second quarter. Starting at the Cibola 21-yard line on their first drive of the quarter, Pride quarterback Antonio Hinojosa found junior receiver Jalen Brown in the left corner for a touchdown. Following another Cibola punt, Craig took a handoff 55 yards for a touchdown on the first play to put the Pride up 28-0.
With less than a minute left in the first half, a poor Cibola punt put Mountain Pointe inside the Raider 20 and it scored two plays later on a 3-yard touchdown pass to Brown.
“They were definitely bigger and faster. They're a really good team,” junior linebacker Josh Hansen said. “We stuffed them in the middle but then they got to the outside. They just beat us on the outside.”
The Raiders, who finish the year 7-4, ended the regular season ranked No. 19 in Arizona Interscholastic Association Division I Power Points but were No. 3 in Section I so they earned an automatic qualifying state tournament bid against the top-ranked Pride. While Cibola knew that Mountain Pointe was big up front, the Pride were quick on the outside — evident from seven offensive plays for more than 20 yards and routinely having Arvizo Jr. under pressure.
“We knew they were going to have some size but they were fast. They were a lot faster then we thought,” Arvizo Sr. said. “When their linebackers blitz, they blitz really quickly. Even when we created holes, they closed them up really quick.”
Jesse Severson can be reached at email@example.com or 539-6881. Find him on Facebook at facebook.com/YSJesseSeverson.