All week before Friday night’s game against Gilbert Williams Field, Queen Creek watched pre-season prediction videos. The Bulldogs had to do what they did for seven of the past eight years – lose three or four games.
This year, Queen Creek is determined to avoid that fate, although coach Travis Schureman is not yet ready to declare that goal a success. “It’s far too early to determine,” Schureman said Friday night.
The early returns, however, could hardly be better. For the first time since 2017, Queen Creek is 4-0 after knocking down Williams Field, 21-20, at Gilbert on Friday night.
âJust stay with what we’re doing,â Schureman said. “Our kids just stayed in the system and did what we asked them to do and perform the parts and were able to get through with that.”
With the loss, the Blackhawks – who were ranked eighth in the Republic’s most recent Top 10 standings – fell to 3-1. The Bulldogs are in fifth place, a spot ahead of a Chaparral team they beat, 33-21, in the season opener.
Friday night, carried by a noisy crowd at home, it was Williams Field who controlled the game in its debut.
Receiver Kyler Kasper, the state’s fourth rookie in the class of 2023, by 247Sports, opened the scoring, scoring an assist from junior quarterback CJ Tiller into the back corner of the end zone on a corner road .
After Queen Creek responded with a four-yard touchdown from senior quarterback Sebastian Tomerlin to senior receiver Kirice Blakley, Kasper was again involved in Williams Field’s second touchdown. He performed a freestyle jump for 35 yards on the left sideline, establishing an 18-yard touchdown to junior receiver Austin Vincent just before halftime.
In the locker room, Schureman maintained his confidence.
“We felt like we were playing well, our defense was playing very hard, playing hard, we just needed to push our offense forward a bit,” said Schureman.
The message? “No need to panic.”
After half-time, Tomerlin heeded this advice.
Queen Creek opened the scoring in the second half with a safety on a bad shot to reduce the deficit to five. More importantly, the safety gave his offense the chance to bounce back from a half-open three-way and away.
Led by her running game, Queen Creek did just that, walking 70 yards in four minutes. Tomerlin finished the run with a rushed touchdown on a false reaction sweep to convert to 4th and 2nd from the 7-yard line, giving the Bulldogs a 15-14 lead.
âTheir guys were just biting hard in the sweep,â Tomerlin said. “I believed in my running back to block that end and he did.”
Following the theme of the night’s swing, Williams Field responded immediately. Junior running back Josh Dye gave the Blackhawks a 20-15 lead, before a lost snap thwarted their two-point conversion attempt.
The failed two-run attempt would prove critical seven minutes later, when Tomerlin gave Queen Creek a 21-20 lead over a stealthy QB from the 1-yard line.
â(Tomerlin) is just a great athlete and he’s able to do things with his feet and throw the ball,â said Schureman. “I think tonight, even though he ran the ball, I thought he threw the ball really well tonight, that he made some good choices.”
After a half in which his offense toppled the fortune of Queen Creek, his defense had the last laugh. With Williams Field facing fourth and fourth goals just outside the shooting range, the game – and the Bulldogs’ unbeaten season – was on the line.
Tiller threw a ball down the middle, trying to hit his receiver on a seam road. Senior safety Cade Farrell, however, read the game perfectly, falling under the road, breaking the pass and saving Queen Creek’s victory.
“This,” Schureman said of the win, “is no surprise to us.”
Theo Mackie covers Arizona High School sports and Phoenix Rising FC. He can be reached by email at [email protected] and on Twitter @theo_mackie.