Marana handily defeated Tucson High 48-7 on the road on Friday night to remain undefeated at 3-0.
Marana’s offense, led by quarterback Elijah Joplin, was far too much for a Tucson team looking to rebuild its program under its new head coach, Southern Arizona coaching legend Richard Sanchez who has previously won two state championships with Sunnyside.
When Marana was forced to punt the ball on the game’s opening drive, which allowed Tucson an opportunity from the Tigers’ 34 yard-line, anything seemed possible for the Badgers.
Once Tucson missed a 37-yard field goal couple of minutes later, and Joplin found junior Sam Brown on a 37-yard touchdown pass on Marana’s second possession of the night, the possibilities started to dwindle for the Badgers.
On Marana’s third possession, which started on their own 40-yard line, Joplin helped march the team down to the Badgers’ 9-yard line before finding junior running back Matt Jensen in the end zone on a 9-yard touchdown reception, putting Marana up 14-0 on the Badgers.
Marana went on to score three more touchdowns to close out the first half: a 41-yard pass reception from Joplin to Charles Ebunoha, a goal line rush from Jensen, and a 58-yard pick-6 from Alonzo Loree with under a minute left in the second quarter.
Marana tacked on two more touchdowns in the second half, both in the hands of Jensen on a 57-yard pass reception and a rush from 40 yards out.
Jensen had four touchdowns in the game, two through the air and two on the ground.
Joplin finished the night with 304 yards, throwing four touchdowns to three different receivers.
Marana head coach Phillip Steward has won his first three games at the helm since being promoted from his role as an assistant before the season.
After the game, Joplin talked about his chemistry with the Marana wide receiving corps.
“Me and the receivers, we’ve kind of played together our whole lives in flag football and 7-on-7’s,” Joplin said. “So, I think we have amazing chemistry and kind of know what each other’s gonna do. I know where they’re gonna be, they know when the ball’s gonna come and I think that works for us.”
Steward explained how crucial Joplin and the wide receivers are to Marana’s offense.
“So, tonight they performed well, and like I said, last week we started fast on offense, so I think that gave them confidence going into this game,” Steward said. “This game as well, they started fast, and Elijah, he’s the centerpiece of it all, those receivers run those routes and he finds them, so I think they’re very key to our success on offense.”
Marana (3-0) plays at Flowing Wells next Friday. Tucson (0-2) plays at home against South Mountain (Phoenix) next Friday. Kickoff for both games is at 7 p.m.
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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.