Video by Jordan Spurgeon
Written by Jordan Hamm
As the Casa Grande football team left school to travel the 43.7 miles to Sun Devil Stadium for their 4A state championship matchup against Poston Butte, they were greeted by a familiar sight: their community supporting them.
Dozens of cars lined up along the road to see the team off before their matchup against No. 1 Poston Butte on Friday night.
Here we go! pic.twitter.com/766B7pXQJ9
— Jake Barro (@CoachBarro) December 10, 2021
Many, and more, followed to the stadium, filling out much of the lower bowl along the Cougars’ sidelines. They did not stop screaming and supporting the team until Poston Butte’s potential game-winning Hail Mary hit the ground and the Cougars ran away with a 33-28 win.
“We fed off their energy,” head coach Jake Barro said. “The players fed off their energy. It was unbelievable. That’s maybe as big of a crowd as you’ll have tomorrow night at the Open. It was something special.”
This is a community that helped cultivate the program’s first state championship in program history. Under Jake Barro, who is fiercely promotes to his players and the city of Casa Grande, the program has become a sustainable player in 4A.
With a strong senior class led by quarterback Angel Flores, the stars aligned for this team to reach new heights. Part flamethrower, part battering ram, Flores found the end zone once through the air and three times on ground.
“He’s resilient, he’s a natural leader, plays around him just believe in him,” Barro said.
When Casa Grande faced a 4th & 10 and trailed 28-27 in the closing minutes of the game, Flores delivered a strike to Demetrius Garrett and it led to the game-winning touchdown.
First State Championship for Casa Grande since playoffs began in the late 1960s. Cougars went undefeated (13-0) in their 91st season of varsity football. pic.twitter.com/BKfAv5kxay
— Gridiron Arizona (@gridironarizona) December 11, 2021
“I didn’t want to play it safe,” Flores said. “I had one of my best receivers on a safety, and I knew he could get a step on him. I thought ‘I got to let this rip.'”
Barro knew the play call was a risk, but with Flores under center, the sideline was confident they would convert.
“Everybody believed we’d get it done,” Barro said. “A lot of that is because of his leadership and who he is, not as a quarterback, who he is as a person. I love him.”
After the conversion, Flores went on to rush for the touchdown, and the defense was able to bat down the last pass to seal the win.
Despite a season where the Cougars took care of most opponents with ease, outscoring opponents 529-164 this year, the team was still ready for a close matchup filled with ups and downs.
“(We were) able to know that we can do it no matter what situation,” Flores said. “We’re just able to have trust in ourselves and our brothers to be able to know we’re going to convert this and we’re going to win.”
Now, the Cougars and their fan base will travel back the 43.7 miles back to Casa Grande, but with one more seat filled for a state championship trophy.