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September 19, 2019

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We are just having fun’: Green Valley stays unbeaten with upset of Faith Lutheran

Faith Versus Green Valley

L.E. Baskow

Green Valley QB A.J. Barilla (7) scrambles for a pass on the run versus Faith Lutheran during their game on Friday, September 8, 2017.

Green Valley football beats Faith Lutheran

Faith Lutheran's Saundre Spiller (20) breaks through the Green Valley defensive line during their game on Friday, September 8, 2017. Launch slideshow »
Prep Sports Now

What just happened?

Las Vegas Sun's Ray Brewer and Case Keefer go over one of the craziest weeks ever in high school football locally. Which upsets were legitimate and which ones were truly out of the ordinary?

At 7 p.m. Friday Faith Lutheran and Green Valley were lining up to kick off their football game when the sky lit up with lightning bolts.

The teams, and hundreds of umbrella-wielding fans, took shelter in the gymnasium while the storm passed.

Five hours later, as the clock struck midnight, the Crusaders and Gators still hadn’t settled things on the field.

Following a highlight-filled, back-and-forth game, the teams headed to overtime with the score tied 27-27.

On the first play Faith Lutheran quarterback Sagan Gronauer dropped the shotgun snap and picked the ball off the rain-soaked turf only to be sacked and fumble it again. Green Valley jumped on the ball, ending the Crusaders’ possession.

On the next play Gators’ quarterback A.J. Barilla found Reyden Morett for a 10-yard touchdown pass to cap off the 33-27 upset win and move Green Valley to 3-0 on the season.

“This was honestly the most fun I’ve ever had playing football,” Barilla said.

The game didn’t kick off until after 9:30 p.m. following a 2.5-hour lightning delay that cleared the field on two occasions. The game was close to being canceled, but the Crusaders were desperate to play the game after their game in Texas was canceled last week due to Hurricane Harvey.

Both teams started slowly, with the Crusaders leading 7-6 at halftime.

“It felt very quiet on both sides of the ball,” Green Valley coach Brian Castro said. “It just took the kids awhile to get back into the game after the delay.”

The Gators’ offense came out of halftime firing on all cylinders, with Barilla completing 11-of-15 passes for 250 yards and four touchdowns in the second half alone.

“I knew I just needed to trust my arm and my receivers, so I just started letting it fly,” Barilla said.

The senior signal caller threw five total touchdowns Friday night, including a 79-yard bomb to Kalyja Waialae to tie the game 21-21 early in the fourth quarter.

Waialae finished with six catches for 169 yards and two touchdowns.

“He is my safety valve and I can always count on him,” Barillo said of Waialae. “He has great football IQ and is just so talented.”

Faith Lutheran running back Saundre Spiller did his best to keep the Crusaders in the game, running for 113 yards and two fourth-quarter touchdowns. Elijah Kothe also had a big game for Faith Lutheran, with 10 catches for 106 yards and a touchdown.

The Gators had an opportunity to win it in regulation after tying it at 27-27 with 3:33 to play, but Faith Lutheran's Keagan Touchstone blocked the extra point.

In the end it was Green Valley’s defense, which sacked Gronauer four times and intercepted him twice (both by Israel Robinson), that came through in overtime.

It was the Gators’ third-straight win in the final seconds, after they beat El Toro (Calif.) 42-35 in the opener and Centennial 24-21 last week.

“This is a tight group of kids that never let up and believe in themselves if they get down,” Castro said. “They have experience in close games and it gives them the confidence to know they can get it done.”

The Gators host Bonanza on Thursday with the opportunity to enter league play undefeated.

“We are just having fun,” Barilla said. “We just love playing football and we love fighting so we know we can never be counted out.”

Jesse Granger can be reached at 702-259-8814 or [email protected]. Follow Jesse on Twitter at