Ray Brewer and Case Keefer discuss the next set of matchups in the playoffs, and wonder if the upper level can produce some closer games.
Arbor View fought fire with ice on Thursday night to advance to the Sunrise regional championship game for the fifth straight year.
Appropriately after it ran onto the field with some players holding smoke flares, Legacy’s offense scorched early at Arbor View. The Longhorns seared the “Battle of the Bulls” rival Aggies for three touchdowns of more than 50 yards in the opening 16 minutes of the game.
Arbor View kept up blow for blow, but it wasn’t until the Aggies slowed to a glacial pace that they cooled off the Longhorns and pulled away. From the 8-minute mark of the second quarter to the conclusion of the third quarter, Legacy’s offense ran only four offensive plays and held the ball for less than two minutes.
Arbor View froze Legacy out with scoring drives of 13, 11 and 10 plays that consumed nearly 18 minutes of game time, leading to a 48-21 victory.
“We said to the offense at halftime, ‘If we can come out and score to start the third quarter just like we scored before half, then we’ll break them,’” Arbor View coach Dan Barnson said. “And we did.”
Arbor View went up 24-14 seconds before halftime when Deago Stubbs capped a seven-minute, 21-second drive with an 11-yard touchdown reception from Logan Bollinger. The Aggies put on a sequel to start the second half, with Billy Davis starring in the final scene by powering his way in for a two-yard touchdown.
The trilogy-installment scoring drive was completed after a Legacy three-and-out, when Eason Jones converted on a 21-yard field goal, his second make on two attempts for the night.
Legacy didn’t do much to unthaw itself from the lengthy possessions. Referees flagged the Longhorns for a pair of personal fouls to extend two of the drives, just four of their 10 penalties — most of which were late hits — that totaled 135 yards on the night.
A Legacy player and assistant coach were ejected late in the fourth quarter, and the team followed by exiting the stadium before the final seconds had ticked off the scoreboard without shaking any of its opponents' hands. Police corralled the parking lot and asked Arbor View to stay on the field while they ensured Legacy boarded its bus.
“I commend our kids because kids want to protect their brothers, teammates but they understood the big thing was letting things go, live to play another play, live to play the next week,” Barnson said. “If we would have had something happen, we would have forfeited the chance to play Gorman next week and we’ve just reached that point where that’s all we want — that chance.”
Arbor View will face Bishop Gorman in the Sunrise regional championship for the fifth straight year next Friday. Although the Aggies have lost the last four by an average of 38 points per game, they’re eager for another opportunity.
There’s a sense this year’s unbeaten team, which has made it 80 wins in eight years for the program, is the best one yet and they won’t shy from a challenge against the national power.
“One of my close friends is (Gorman quarterback) Dorian Thompson-Robinson,” Arbor View running back Kyle Graham said. “I’ve been playing youth football with him for a long time, and I told him I can’t wait to play against him.”
The Aggies may have a chance if Graham plays like he did against the Longhorns. While the game was flaming on with reckless abandon early, the junior returned a punt 62 yards for a touchdown.
Later, once Arbor View had slowed the game down, he became the linchpin for a couple of the drawn-out drives. After Stubbs — who had 131 total yards and two touchdowns — limped off the field at halftime, Barnson slid Graham from fullback to tailback.
He thrived in the featured role, chewing up 73 yards on 11 carries.
“You’ve just got to always be ready for it,” Graham said. “When we were on those long drives, coach called my number. I got the ball and did my job.”
Jaquari Hannie and Nathan Egblaic also scored rushing touchdowns for Arbor View. Defensive linemen Elijah Wade and Tai Tuinei sparked three-and-outs for Legacy’s offense during Arbor View’s push to keep it off the field. Before the turnaround, Legacy quarterback had found receiver Davick Clark for a pair of touchdowns totaling 133 yards and running back Aubrey Washington had broken loose for a 70-yard score.
The Aggies were motivated by the lack of respect shown by the Longhorns, which they have now beaten in seven straight meetings. It all started in the pregame.
Legacy crashed Arbor View’s red-smoke entrance by timing its run-out at the same time with blue smoke. That stunt was harmless, but later actions like the penalties were dangerous.
Arbor View showed restraint, and was never flagged for any retaliation.
“We just made sure everyone was doing their job and no one lost their cool,” Graham said.