Havasu football opens treacherous stretch in division
After winning its first West Valley regional matchup with a 31-24 win over Glendale Deer Valley last week, the Lake Havasu football team will look to keep the regional win streak alive when it travels to Glendale today to face a Cactus team at 7 p.m. ranked No. 9 in the 4A conference.
Havasu is entering the toughest stretch of its season as its next three oponents — Cactus (9), Peoria (12) and Desert Edge (5) — are all ranked in the top-third of the 4A conference.
The Knights (4-3 overall, 1-0 West Valley, No. 26 in 4A) had to rally back from a 17-7 deficit last week to beat the Skyhawks.
For the Knights to have success against the Cobras, they will have to avoid working from behind.
“We can’t move backward like we did in the last game,” Lake Havasu coach Karl Thompson said. “Looking at this weeks task, we have to execute on all parts of the game. We can’t have as many obstacles as we have had in the last couple of weeks get in front of us.”
Cactus (5-2 overall, 1-1 West Valley) is coming off a 33-22 loss to West Valley opponent Goodyear Desert Edge. It was the Cobras first loss since Sept. 14 and in that timespan outscored its opponents 77-30 before the loss.
According to the film he’s seen, Thompson said the Cobras have a good offensive line, they’re very fast on defense and have playmakers that can score a lot of points. Thompson also said the Knights can expect a lot of two-point conversions because while the Cobras can find the end zone, their kicking game isn’t the strongest.
Both Havasu and Cactus mix it up on offense with the run and pass to move the ball downfield with the whatever works approach.
However, the Knights should expect a little more passing than running from the Cobras.
Cactus leads the West Valley region with 1,215 receiving yards so far this season.
The Cobras have logged at least 100-yards passing in every game except one when it passed 82-yards on Sept. 28 against Deer Valley.
Havasu ranks third in passing yards in the region, but as of late has been favoring the run — in which it ranks second in the West Valley with 1,335-yards — and scored three touchdowns off the rush last week.
The Knights are still battling the injury bug, but Johnathan Perez is expected to be back after missing last weeks game. Brace Spencer will get the start at quarterback after taking over for Cole Fuller in the second quarter against Deer Valley. However, Fuller will be available if the Knights need him.
Above all else, one thing the Knights have going for them is their grit and it showed last week in the rally.
Havasu made a lot of mistakes to allow Deer Valley to take an early lead, but it fixed those miscues and outplayed the Skyhawks to win the game.
That’s something the Knights have shown more than a few times this season.
“Our kids showed a lot of resolve in the face of adversity to come back and not give up,” Thompson said. “There have been teams in the past that would have packed it in and say ‘this game is over.’ This groups a little more gritty when it gets that way. They’re not willing to throw in the towel so quickly.”