Friday, Nov. 20, 2015 | 11:27 p.m.
The players on the Basic High football team wanted another crack at dethroning the Sunrise Region champs. They worked an entire year to be back in position to play the one game they are confident they can win.
And, if the Wolves continue playing defense like they did tonight against visiting Silverado in a 24-8 victory, they might just give five-time Sunrise champ Liberty a stiff challenge next Saturday.
Basic forced Silverado into six turnovers, including linebacker Tayj’ean Thomas recovering a fumble and racing 51 yards for a touchdown in the first half, in advancing to face Liberty in a second straight Sunrise championship game.
Last season, Basic lost by just 12 points, giving players confidence they are capable of hanging with the powerhouse program. The game is at 12:10 p.m. at Basic.
“We have been waiting since the clock ended last year at Liberty for them,” Thomas said. “We know we are ready for them.”
The Basic defense had two interceptions (both by shutdown corner Brian Evans), two fumble recoveries, seven sacks and limited Silverado to less than 20 rushing yards. It also had a defensive touchdown called back and twice stopped the Silverado punter from trying to rush for a first down.
“The key for the defense was trying to get a goose egg on the scoreboard,” Thomas said. “That was our main goal coming in. If they don’t score, we win.”
The Wolves had trouble passing the ball, including throwing two interceptions, but still found ways to win. Sean White had more than 100 rushing yards and two touchdowns, giving Basic the lead for good with a 4-yard touchdown run six minutes into the game. White is one of a handful of Basic seniors who started peaking toward the end of last season. Basic qualified for the postseason in 2014 despite winning just one league game, but picked up two playoff wins in advancing to play Liberty.
This season has been an extension of the development. And it’s all been done with the goal of beating Liberty.
“That game was close until the very end,” Basic coach Jeff Cahill said of last year’s game. “We know they are tough and they have a good defense. But our kids aren’t afraid. They have been there already and will be ready to go.”
During Cahill’s postgame speech, he alluded to players that they have one more game to win, meaning they finally got the rematch they desired with Liberty. Thomas, who is one of the Sunrise Region’s top defenders, quickly interrupted the coach: “We’ve got two more wins for state.”
Yes, Basic’s spot against Liberty comes with an even bigger prize than the Sunrise title. Every three seasons, the Sunrise championship is played over Thanksgiving weekend and doubles as the state semifinals, meaning a win against Liberty would earn Basic a spot Dec. 5 at Sam Boyd Stadium for the state championship game.