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May 27, 2019

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high school football:

Special teams play crucial in Palo Verde’s lopsided win at Cheyenne

2011 Prep Football

Sam Morris

Palo Verde High School football players Jacob Whitham, Josh Symonette and Jonathan Maxwell.

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Team Pages

The Palo Verde High football team won this game thanks to its play on special teams.

The Panthers opened a 14-point lead Saturday less than six minutes into its Northwest League game with host Cheyenne, using a 54-yard punt return for a touchdown from speedy junior Ryan Beaulieu and a blocked punt to set up another score in a convincing 41-8 victory.

“Special teams are big for us,” said Beaulieu, who raced down the sideline virtually untouched for a 7-0 lead at the 10:10 mark of the first quarter. “Coach (Darwin) Rost also says everything is one-third — one-third offense, defense and especially special teams. That was definitely the case tonight.”

The punt team was just getting started. After Cheyenne went three-and-out on its ensuing possession, Palo Verde again grabbed the momentum with a special teams play.

KamBrenn Heatley, who in the second week of the season had a 97-yard kickoff return for a touchdown against Arbor View in a seven-point victory, blocked a punt that was recovered by Patrick Tofaeono inside the Cheyenne 10-yard line to set up another score.

Lee Griggs, who rushed for 116 yards on nine carries, capitalized on the block by scoring on a 4-yard plunge with 6:53 left in the quarter for a 14-0 advantage.

“We knew they were a good team. We came out alive and hit them in the mouth first,” Griggs said.

In a battle of undefeated Northwest teams, Palo Verde (6-0, 5-0 Northwest) showed why it is the league’s perennial power. Cheyenne (4-1 overall, 2-1 Northwest) appeared overmatched from the opening whistle.

“They are a very fundamentally sound football team,” Cheyenne coach David Cochran said. “That is one of the staples of their whole organization. I respected that program. They do a good job year in and year out. Their kids are disciplined and focused on what they need to do. You almost have to play a perfect game against those guys to compete.”

Jerrol Garcia-WIlliams

Palo Verde High linebacker Jerrol Garcia-WIlliams talks about the upcoming high school football season.

Palo Verde would score 41 unanswered points to open the game, including a pair of touchdowns from Jerrol Garcia-Williams. His second touchdown came on a 43-yard pass from Parker Rost to give Palo Verde a 41-0 lead with nine minutes to play in the third quarter.

Cheyenne was able to move the ball late, mostly against the Palo Verde second-string defense in gaining nearly 200 yards. Tyler Spight’s 25-yard touchdown run provided the lone points for Cheyenne.

Palo Verde plays Shadow Ridge next Thursday. Despite not having a win, Shadow Ridge only trailed Arbor View 7-6 Saturday after the first quarter before being blown out, 55-6.

“You have to come ready to play every week, and Shadow has a couple of good kids,” Palo Verde coach Darwin Rost said. “It’s a short week and we’ll have to crank it up.”

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