Mica Mountain’s Pat Nugent came into the 2021 season looking to develop his brand new, up-and-coming football program in Vail for expected success down the road.
He even said so himself after his team’s 45-13 dominating win over an established Amphi program on Friday.
The Thunderbolts took on a Panther squad hungry for a win coming off a loss to Empire last Friday 27-7.
Amphi is coached by Jorge Mendivil, who knows all about making a new Vail school an immediate winner. He coached Empire at its inception and the Ravens were 10-2 by his fourth year in 2009.
“We’re trying to develop for next year, this isn’t about making the state playoffs this year, this was about developing,” Nugent said.
Needless to say, with his team one game away from gaining potential eligibility for the 2021 Class 4A playoffs after the impressive win on Friday, the development at Mica Mountain is going pretty well.
Both teams traded punts to start things out, and it looked disastrous for the Thunderbolts early when their punt was blocked.
That set up the Panthers with excellent field position inside the Mica Mountain 10-yard-line.
However, Mica Mountain’s defense held and not only prevented a touchdown, but blocked the Amphi field goal attempt and returned the ball to midfield, giving their offense a short field.
The Thunderbolts were able to capitalize on that and get a 3-0 lead thanks to an Ethan Black 24-yard field goal.
The Thunderbolts would add on to their lead to start the second quarter with a run by Kaspen Colbert that put them up 10-0.
Colbert’s brother, Kason, is a burgeoning talent as a sophomore on the offensive line and as a linebacker for Mica Mountain.
Amphi showed some life, scoring on the next play from scrimmage on a 65-yard-touchdown run by senior Kiki Trejo, one of the top rushers in Southern Arizona.
Mica Mountain would strike back immediately on the ensuing possession, capping off the drive with a run by Josiah Thornwell.
With momentum on the opposing side, Amphi needed to make a play.
Unfortunately for the Panthers, the ball landed in the hands of Kason Colbert.
“It’s funny,” said Nugent when asked about what his thoughts were once Kason Colbert got the interception. ‘He’s had two interceptions, and both were returned for touchdowns.”
Nugent joked that he may need to find a place on offense for Kason next to his brother Kaspen in the future.
His defense only surrendered the one long touchdown run. He talked about how important it is to have some seniority on that side of the ball for a very young team.
“It’s the one spot where we got a few juniors,” Nugent said of the defense. “That extra year of maturity and physical toughness that we have.”
Colbert’s pick-six made it 24-7, and a his brother extended the lead to 31-7 with his second touchdown of the night on the next Thunderbolt possesion right before the half.
Quarterback Jayden Thoresen, a freshman who is Mica Mountain’s leader of the future, only saw one half of action with Aaron Rodarte.
Both quarterbacks looked impressive with Theresen being a part of several trick plays by Nugent’s offense in the first half, including a reverse throwback that Thoresen completed downfield.
To start the second half, Mica Mountain received the kickoff and fumbled on the return. Amphi would then fumble on their possession deep in Thunderbolt territory, only for Mica Mountain to fumble it right back and allowed for a scoop and score for Amphi to make it 31-13.
Rodarte had several impressive throws as well, one on a corner route to Devin Hayward that went 34 yards for the score to make it 38-13. He also completed a 10-yard touchdown pass to Octavio Vidrio Jr. to make it 45-13.
Nugent was quick to praise both of his young quarterbacks.
On Thoresen: “He is a gunslinger, he’s got a lot to learn, makes some mistakes, he wants to throw the ball and he has a great arm”
On Rodarte: “He just hung in there, he’s really done a great job, I give him full credit, we sat him, he was third-string for awhile, but he’s kept working”
Mica Mountain (3-2) will travel to Prescott Valley’s Bradshaw Mountain (6-3) next week in a game that was not scheduled when the season started.
This will be the third game added on the Mica Mountain schedule mid-season. They squared off with 6A power Mesa Mountain View and 5A playoff team Salpointe earlier in the year, losing both games.
AIA requires that a team compete in at least six varsity games in a season to be eligible for playoff contention.
Amphi (4-4, 1-2 4A Gila) will look to bounce back and secure a winning season at Rio Rico (0-7, 0-3) in its final regular season game. They were already on the outside looking in for this year’s 4A state playoff chase.
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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.