Marana’s Phillip Steward Arizona Cardinals High School Coach of the Week

Marana coach Phillip Steward, a former Houston Cougars standout and NFL linebacker, has coached the Tigers to an impressive 5-1 record and No. 10 ranking among 5A teams in the state (Andy Morales/AllSportsTucson.com)

Marana first-year coach Phillip Steward, who is in contention for region and state coach of the year honors leading the 5-1 Tigers, was named the Arizona Cardinals High School Coach of the Week for his team’s dramatic comeback win over Sunnyside last week.

Marana, ranked No. 10 in the latest 5A power ratings, was down by three touchdowns against Sunnyside with less than 7 minutes remaining and pulled out the last-second 36-35 victory.

Marana quarterback Elijah Joplin found running back Matthew Jensen for a 42-yard touchdown pass followed by another scoring strike to Charles Ebunoha on consecutive possessions to cut Sunnyside’s lead to a touchdown with just under a minute remaining in the game.

Marana recovered the ensuing onside kick, allowing Joplin to swiftly march the Tigers into the red zone thanks to a pair of clutch receptions by Sam Brown. Joplin then connected with Jason Wood on an 8-yard touchdown pass, trimming Sunnyside’s lead to a point with under a second remaining on the clock.

With 0.3 seconds left and the momentum in Marana’s favor, Steward opted to go for a 2-point conversion for the victory.

Joplin recognized a blitz, saw an opening, and intuitively took matters into his own hands when he rushed it up the gut and dove into the end zone.

Former Marana coach Andy Litten, now the head coach at Scottsdale Horizon, was the Cardinals’ coach of the week following games in Week One.

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