No. 35: Patagonia 1988 champs, extending winning streak to 27 games topping previously unbeaten Scottsdale Christian


No. 35

CHAMPIONSHIP: Class 1A (knowns as Class C at that time)

SCORE: Patagonia 38, Scottsdale Christian 26

DATE: November 19, 1988

SITE: Phoenix Indian High School

Patagonia’s 1988 state championship team (Patagonia photo)

GAME SUMMARY: Arley McNeil rushed for 202 yards on 25 carries to lead top-ranked Patagonia over No. 2 Scottsdale Christian in a battle of unbeaten teams. The victory earned Patagonia its second consecutive state championship and extended the state’s longest winning streak to 27 games.

Patagonia (12-0) battled back from three interceptions that led to Scottsdale Christian (10-1) taking a 20-16 lead at halftime.

McNeil gained 148 yards rushing in the second half, which helped Patagonia rally after falling behind 26-16 midway through the third quarter after Scottsdale Christian was successful on a fake-field goal scoring play of 12 yards.

McNeil answered with a 1-yard scoring run on the next possession. With 57 seconds left in the third quarter, McNeil rushed 36 yards before he lateraled to teammate Greg Lowe, who ran the last 20 yards into the end zone to give Patagonia a 30-26 lead.

Patagonia closed the scoring on McNeil’s 61-yard touchdown run early in the fourth quarter.

McNeil also hauled in a 73-yard touchdown pass from Gibie Yslava in the first half.

Patagonia, which last fielded a team in 2016, was first ruled ineligible for the 1988 postseason for using blocking dummies during preseason practice one week before they were allowed. The Lobos regained eligibility, however, after head coach Bill House resigned. Bill Ardito took over on an interim basis and House returned the following season.

McNeil, who passed away at age 37 in 2014 due to heart failure, holds the Class 1A career-scoring record 688 points and is second in career rushing yards (5,760).

Mountain View softball coach Ramon De la Ossa was a center on Patagonia’s team.

THEY SAID IT: “We’re not a first-half team. We’re at our best in the second half. We came out (after halftime) fired up and our line started opening up the holes and I started running through them.” — McNeil to the Arizona Republic after the game.

DID YOU KNOW: Jerry Petolicchio, Patagonia’s senior offensive-line leader in 1988, responsiblie for opening many holes for McNeil, passed away in a car accident two days before the school’s graduation ceremony that school year. Petolicchio’s No. 54 jersey was retired and a plaque in his honor still hangs at Patagonia. 

BOX SCORE (printed in Arizona Republic):

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