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November 18, 2006

Thanksgiving Plans - Wickenburg versus Coolidge for the State Title

From the Wickenburg Sun:

After stumbling out of the gate and falling behind by 10 points early, Wickenburg High School's unbeaten and second-ranked (3A) football team settled down and eventually upset unbeaten and No. 1-ranked Seton Catholic Friday night in the state semifinals, 28-23.

The Wranglers, who now have the most victories in one season in the school's history with its current 13-0 record, will face defending state champion Coolidge in the 3A title game Friday (Nov. 24) at McClintock High School in Tempe (7 p.m. kickoff).

Ironically, the championship game will be a rematch of the last year's state semifinal contest between Wickenburg and Coolidge, which won 27-20 en route to its title.

And the team Wickenburg defeated Friday night was the only team to knock off the defending champs this season, 32-20, in the fifth week of the regular season. Coolidge advanced to its second consecutive championship game by defeating Winslow, 28-24, in the other semifinal contest Friday night at Mesa Community College.

The night looked bleak for the Wranglers in the first five minutes.

First, Seton took the opening kickoff 68 yards in nine plays to score the game's first touchdown with less than four minutes taken off the game clock. Then, Wickenburg fumble away the ball on its first possession ... and Seton eventually converted the mistake into a 35-yard field goal.

Before Wickenburg could even get one play in the books, it was behind 10-0.

It was 17-7 midway through the second quarter. Seton was rolling. Almost unstoppable. They scored on their first three possessions. But Wickenburg came back and cut the lead to 17-14 and held Seton on their last possession of the half. Wickenburg took the opening kick of the second half in for a TD, held Seton, and scored again. Had it not been for a touchdown with :02 on the clock in the 4th, Wick would have won 28-17.

We watched the second semi-finals game sitting next to Coach Vaughan, several other coaches, and Scott McKeever. These kids are class acts and every single one of them is polite, well mannered, and respectful. They work hard. They are dedicated. They are disciplined. They are well coached. And they just knocked off an undefeated and number one ranked team in the Semifinals.

I have been at all but two road games this year. I worked the chains at every home game. I know several of the kids and have watched them out work, out hustle, out hit, and out play every team they have faced including Blue Ridge (of their many championships) and Seton (the number one and unbeaten team).

This is Wickenburg's first trip to the finals since I was 3 years old. Almost 30 years since the last trip. So now, instead of spending Thanksgiving at my condo and taking the kids skiing, I have something more important and a reason to spend Thanksgiving with the Grandparents and in-laws, who live 200 yards apart in Wickenburg. This team represents our community well and with class. Our fans in the stands and the rest of us have an opportunity to represent our team by showing up and celebrating this great year and these great kids.

Posted by Justin at November 18, 2006 04:33 PM