Six years have passed since Palo Verde won a league title, but it’s in position to add another championship to its trophy case with three weeks remaining in the regular season.
The Panthers will control their own destiny after they improved to 3-0 in Northwest play with a 43-6 win at home against Cimarron-Memorial Friday night.
“We can’t be sitting any better than where we are right now but we know what’s ahead of us,” Palo Verde coach Joe Aznarez said. “We’ve got to play complete games to beat the teams coming up.”
Palo Verde will face juggernauts Centennial, Faith Lutheran and Arbor View in consecutive weeks to finish off the regular season. All those opponents will have to deal with a Panthers’ rush defense that flexed its muscles against Cimarron, as it held superstar running back Jordan Norwood in check all night.
Palo Verde’s relatively unsung senior Amir McGruder was instead the star of the night. McGruder had an interception return for a touchdown, a 50-plus yard touchdown reception and 50-plus yard rushing score.
“He had one catch and one carry,” Aznarez said. “He made use of those.”
Junior running back Charron Thomas had 50 yards and three touchdowns for the Panthers, while McGruder’s defensive teammates had two other interceptions. It was a strong performance, but Palo Verde knows hurdles to get back to the top remain ahead.
“The gauntlet is upon us now,” Aznarez said.