In addition to being a rematch of the 2012 Division III State Championship, Friday night’s quarterfinal playoff game between fifth-seeded Queen Creek and fourth-seeded Desert Edge figured to be a track meet.
While the end result was the same as in 2012 (a 9 – 7 Queen Creek victory), the score was much different this time around as the Bulldogs scored early and often against the higher-seeded Scorpions on their way to a 49 – 14 victory.
After the win, Queen Creek head coach Travis Schureman finally admitted to what some suspected since the playoff seedings were announced two weeks ago.
“We took (Friday’s game) personal,” he said. “We feel like we’re better than a five seed, obviously.”
“We thought this game should’ve probably been played at our place,” Schureman continued. “But we had two losses, they had one, so it was here and maybe rightfully so.”
The Bulldogs’ offense and senior running back Weston Barlow, who is also the defending Division III 100m State Champion, lived up to their half of the predicted track meet, but Desert Edge could not overcome the hurdle that was Queen Creek’s defense.
The Bulldogs held the Scorpions to 36 points below their season average.
“Coach Suchomel is our defensive coordinator and he did a great job of getting our kids ready, prepared, and in their spots to play,” Schureman said after the game. “That’s a great quarterback and a great running back they have over there, but our kids just flew to the football and got after it.”
Barlow, who eclipsed 2,000 yards rushing for the second straight season last week, rushed for over 300 yards and six touchdowns Friday night against Desert Edge. It was his third consecutive game of rushing for more than 300 yards.
“I can’t take any credit for my performance,” a humble Barlow said. “The credit goes to my offensive line. They do their thing every week, (they) get better and better, and I’m just happy with where we’re at – staying healthy and (improving) each week.”
Queen Creek scored touchdowns on each of its first four offensive possessions, including three scoring runs from Barlow and a 14-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Bryce Dobbs to Zane Whiting.
After a 1-yd touchdown run by fullback Derek Edgin with 51 seconds remaining in the first half, the Scorpions made the questionable decision to pooch the ensuing kickoff. Whatever the plan was, it backfired as Barlow scored on the Bulldogs’ fifth-straight possession of the first half to extend their lead to 35 – 6 just before halftime.
Barlow rushed for 243 yards and four touchdowns in the first half. It was his way of responding to some antagonizing comments by Desert Edge players found this week on Twitter. There was a particular tweet that referred to one of the state’s best running backs and defending 100m State Champion as “slow.”
“Yeah, coming into the game there definitely was some irritation,” Barlow acknowledged. “Words were said(on Twitter), but I decided not to say anything back.”
He didn’t need to.
His performance on the field was the perfect response, especially in the eyes of his head coach who restricts and monitors his players’ use of social media during the season.
“Their kids issued a challenge on Twitter, talking about how they were going bring the pain and how we weren’t going to be able to do much,” said Schureman, clearly feeling his team was disrespected. “We take those things personal and we had a desire to get out tonight and get after these guys.”
Barlow ran for two more touchdowns in the second half. His two scores sandwiched a 7-yard touchdown run by Scorpions’ running back Roshaun Johnson. Desert Edge quarterback Tehran Thomas added the two-point PAT after Johnson’ run.
Queen Creek’s win in Friday’s rematch of the 2012 State Championship sets up another rematch – the 2013 State Championship – in next week’s semi-final game versus Saguaro.
The Sabercats, who won last year’s title game, beat the Bulldogs earlier this year, 34 – 18. Next week’s game will mark the fourth time the two teams have met during the last two seasons. Saguaro has won the previous three games.
“I know they’re going to be well-coached and well-prepared,” said Schureman, looking ahead to next week’s game. “Everyone is (predicting) they’re going to win the trophy, so what have we go to lose? We’re going to get on the bus and see what happens.”