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New-look Shamrocks crush Dust Devils in homecoming game
By the time the second quarter started, Yuma Catholic senior running back Kody Hazlett had his helmet off.
He wouldn't get another carry for the next 34 minutes and could relax and enjoy the Shamrocks' 49-8 victory over Eloy-Santa Cruz on homecoming at Ricky Gwynn Stadium on Friday night.
Hazlett rushed for 143 of his team-high 152 yards in the first quarter — including a 58-yard touchdown on the first play of the game.
“You try and get a feel for how things are going. With Kody, we wanted to make sure he got 100 yards, we didn't want to hurt him statistically,” Yuma Catholic coach Rhett Stallworth said.
Sophomore quarterback Jagan Cleary, who was pulled with 7:34 left in the second quarter, went 6 for 7 for 154 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions. His favorite target of the night was sophomore wide receiver Donovan Rooks, who caught three passes for 92 yards and three touchdowns.
“All week coaches prepared us well. We didn't have gamefilm of them, so we just had to work hard in practice and coaches made great adjustments during the game,” Rooks said.
The Shamrocks (5-1), who came into the game ranked No. 5 in Arizona Interscholastic Association Division V Power Points, scored early and often. Hazlett took the first play from scrimmage right up the middle, breaking tackles en route to a 58-yard score. After a three-and-out by the Dust Devils, Hazlett tacked on a 30-yard run before Cleary found Rooks deep down the middle for a 47-yard score — their second touchdown in three plays.
On a fourth-and-7 during the Shamrocks' next drive, Yuma Catholic called a trick play: Cleary handed the ball to Hazlett, who tossed it back to junior receiver Ricky Hampton, who tossed it back to a waiting Cleary. After getting it back, the sophomore quarterback threw it deep to Rooks for a 39-yard touchdown.
“We had been working on that all week in practice and I guess coach wanted to try it out. And it worked,” Cleary said. “I pitched it and I just waited back there to get it back from Ricky and when I got it back, I just had to get it out of my hands. Donovan was the first person I saw, so I knew who I was going to.”
Early in the second quarter, Cleary connected with Rooks again for a 6-yard touchdown pass. However, what happened next caused some controversy after the game. Lining up for the extra point, senior holder Andy Determan caught the snap, turned around and threw the ball over his head to sophomore tight end Matt Pistone in the end zone for the two-point conversion.
“I thought that was pretty bush league,” Santa Cruz coach Ernesto Montijo said. “I've won state championships as a player and a coach in different sports. Maybe the kid called it, I don't know. I've had kids call stuff like that when we're leading by a lot and I've jumped his case. Maybe the kid called it, but if not that's pretty bush.”
“We were trying to get the score to 42 so there'd be a running clock and get my guys off the field so we don't have any injuries and things like that,” Stallworth said. “And at the end of the day, I can only coach one team. I can coach Yuma Catholic, I can't coach his team at the same time.
“It was easy to get (the two-point conversion) the way they were coming. They showed it the first couple times how they were coming. I could sit and cry about them throwing it late and kicking onside kicks after I pulled my ones.”
The Shamrocks missed the extra point on their third touchdown to make the score 20-0 – the two-point conversion made the Yuma Catholic lead 28-0.
On the last play of the half, Hampton received a Santa Cruz punt and ran to the right sideline before pitching it back to Determan, who ran 70 yards down the left sideline on a reverse to make it 42-0 as time expired on the half.
The Shamrocks, who travel to Antelope next Friday, did get plenty of playing time for their substitutes, like sophomore running back Carter Rodriguez, who had 80 rushing yards on five carries — including a 71-yard touchdown to make it 49-0.
Santa Cruz scored its only touchdown of the game when quarterback Gabriel Belloc hit running back Rodolfo Velasco on the left sideline for a 18-yard score. With less than two minutes left to go in the game, Stallworth brought his first team back on and Hazlett picked up a 9-yard run and Cleary connected with running back Brandon Moreno on a screen pass for 19 yards before the Shamrocks took a knee to end it.
Yuma Catholic also showed off an alternate green jersey, which Stallworth said will be used for big games like homecoming and playoffs — and keeps with the tradition of Yuma Catholic emulating Notre Dame. The players were clearly happy with the change in color.
“They're pretty sweet,” Hazlett said. “I like them.”
Jesse Severson can be reached at email@example.com or at 539-6881. Find him on Facebook at facebook.com/YSJesseSeverson.