The Tanque Verde Hawks took another step in their ascension as a legitimate threat in Southern Arizona with their 23-6 win over the defending 2A state champions, the Eloy Santa Cruz Valley Dust Devils, Friday night at home.
The win was more than just a hard-fought victory over a great opponent for the Hawks. The win secured the program’s first winning season in the school’s history (they began playing varsity football in 2007).
Jay Dobyns, a former Arizona Wildcat standout, has been at the helm for two years now at Tanque Verde, and there has already been major improvements to a program that once was on a 19-game losing streak before he got there.
The Hawks started 3-0 last year before their season was cut short due to Covid-19 concerns.
“Small things for other people are very big things for us still, we are still trying to show people that we are relevant,” Dobyns said after the victory over Santa Cruz.
This win for the Hawks provides another first as well. It gives them an opportunity for the first playoff appearance in school history.
“This is not the same Tanque Verde that people are use to,” said Dobyns.
The game itself was a hard-hitting contest with both teams not giving much of anything for the first half.
Both offenses struggled, but were doing just enough to cause a sense of urgency on the other sidelines with their drives before they were eventually stopped. The game of hot potato continued throughout the first half.
Late in the second quarter, the Hawks were able to mount a drive deep into Dust Devil territory and were able to get on the board first thanks to a Brian Bergheim 20-yard field goal to give Tanque Verde a 3-0 heading into halftime.
While the Hawks scored 23 on the night after being limited to three in the first half, Dobyns feels like a lot of points were left on the field.
“Well, it was low scoring on the scoreboard, but it wasn’t low scoring, we left three touchdowns on the field, and we had two touchdowns called back. That was a 50-point offensive performance from us tonight,” he said.
“The scoreboard didn’t have the points, but our offense sure did.”
The third quarter was much of the same for both sides, until a great punt return by Tanque Verde set them up inside the Dust Devils’ 40-yard-line.
Then, the player simply known as “Biscuit” took over.
Brayden Scott, who received his nickname on the first day of camp when he had “B.Scott” written on a piece of tape on his helmet to help the new staff identify their players, took a handoff and got the Hawks down to the 3-yard-line.
Dobyns called Scott on the very next play and he found the end zone for the first time of the night for either side.
“For the last two years, he has been a consistent player for us,” Dobyns said. “He is a junior, so we will have him for one more year. He is just a football kid. He has a high football IQ.”
“It felt great to score those two touchdowns, I mean I owe it to the O-linemen. They did their job, that was great, and yeah defensively it was just all-out, we all balled out,” said Scott, who plays both linebacker and running back for the Hawks.
Scott was called upon again as the third quarter drew to a close, and on the final play of the quarter, found the end zone again, this time from 10 yards out.
And after a game that saw three points throughout the first 36 minutes, “Biscuit” started lighting up the scoreboard for the Hawks.
It wasn’t just him though. His fellow running back Aaron Wentz scored to make it a 23-0 lead at the time.
Santa Cruz Valley would put the ball in the end zone as the game wound down to its final minutes, on a pass from Adrian Diaz-Gonzalez to Adrian Brown.
The Hawks (5-3, 1-1 in the 2A Rillito) will travel to take on the struggling Catalina Trojans (1-8, 0-3) next Friday at 7 p.m.
Santa Cruz Valley (4-5, 2-1) will match up with Santa Rita Eagles (1-7, 1-1) at home next Friday.
If the Dust Devils win, they will be 5-5 and will capture the 2A Rillito title, giving them an automatic playoff berth to defend their 2A title in the playoffs.
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ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com writing intern Harrison Moreno is a southern Arizona native who has watched Wildcat athletics since he was young kid. He recently is a graduate of The University of Arizona’s School of Journalism, with a focus in broadcast and audio journalism.