The Tanque Verde Hawks defeated Heritage Academy (Laveen) 50-8 at Cienega High School on Friday night.
Two weather delays caused by lightning in the area kept both teams off the field for over an hour and a half during the first quarter.
The first play of the game was an indicator of how the game would go for Heritage Academy when senior WR Kaden Eichinger scored a long rushing touchdown on a sweep play to the outside.
Heritage Academy ended up turning the ball over on downs to Tanque Verde on the next series before lightning in the area prompted a weather delay with 5:32 remaining in the first quarter.
After the delay, the teams took the field, warmed up, and Tanque Verde got two plays in on offense before more lightning in the area caused a second weather delay. This one lasted about 45 minutes.
Senior running back Rory Maciulla scored a 20-yard rushing touchdown soon after the break. Tanque Verde recovered a fumble on the ensuing kickoff before Maciulla tacked on another rushing touchdown on the following series, this one from 15 yards out.
The Hawks never looked back from there.
Tanque Verde held the shutout late into the fourth quarter before Heritage Academy found the end zone with the Hawks starting lineup on the bench.
Tanque Verde head coach Jay Dobyns was pleased with the way the Hawks were able to stay motivated through two extented weather delays.
“Not surprised by, but their perseverance with the lightning delays, the starts and the stops, we had three of those starts and stops, and every time they took us off the field, we came back, and we came back firing,” Dobyns said. “We had some extended delays; we had a 45-minute delay and an hour delay. That’s hard as a young person to keep your head engaged and stay focused, and the fact that they did that so well and came right back out, and they didn’t miss a beat, I was super impressed with that.”
In July, two of Dobyns’ assistants from last season, son Jack, a Salpointe Catholic grad, and Matt Vinson were hired by 6A program Odessa (Texas) High School. The current Tanque Verde coaching staff consists mainly of a who’s who of former Arizona football players. David Adams, Van Brandon, Jeff Kiewel, Chris Lopez, Scooter Sprotte, and Dobyns played for the Wildcats at one point or another.
The current and former coaching staff under Dobyns has completely changed the mentality in the program, leading them to a 3-0 start before COVID-19 protocols shut down last season after the program lost 15 straight games dating back to the 2018 season.
Maciulla talked after the game about how the coaching staff has built the team up from the bottom.
“They built confidence in us first and then built us up from there because before them we didn’t have any of that, we didn’t believe in ourselves or our team,” Maciulla said. “They built us up from the bottom, and they built us to be the great football players we are.”
Senior quarterback Lucas Franklin completed 8 of 9 passing attempts for 48 yards and one touchdown.
Maciulla finished with 155 yards on 13 rushing attempts and three touchdowns.
Junior James Torok was Franklin’s top target, finishing with four catches for 31 yards. Senior Andy Sorbe added an 11-yard touchdown reception.
Tanque Verde (1-0) plays against the Willcox Cowboys (1-0) next Friday in Willcox. Kickoff is at 7 p.m.
FOLLOW @KEVINMURFEE ON TWITTER!
ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com writing intern Kevin Murphy was born and raised in Tucson, and has followed Arizona Wildcats athletics since childhood. He is currently attending Pima Community College where he writes for the Aztec Press. Next semester he will be attending the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at ASU where he will work towards a Bachelor’s degree in Mass Communication and Media Studies.