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CHAMPIONSHIP: Class 5A
SCORE: Mesa Mountain View 28, Amphitheater 24
DATE: December 12, 1997
SITE: Sun Devil Stadium, Tempe (attendance 13,220)
GAME SUMMARY: Mountain View (14-0) rallied from a 24-14 deficit scoring two touchdowns in the last seven minutes to defend its state title and also prevent legendary Vern Friedli from winning his second championship at Amphi (13-1) in an epic battle of unbeaten teams.
Friedli, whose Panthers captured the 1979 state title, would not reach the state championship game again in his illustrious 36-year coaching career that concluded in 2011. He also reached the title game in 1990 at Amphi and 1973 at Morenci.
Mountain View’s go-ahead touchdown occurred with 3:23 left to play, after its defense stopped Amphi on a fourth-and-one situation at the Panther 40. The Toros scored three plays later with 2:39 left on an 18-yard sweep by Brad Malone.
Amphi’s last possession ended with an interception after the Panthers gained life completing a 24-yard pass on fourth-and-14.
A deflection of a punt late in the third quarter started to give Mountain View momentum with the Toros trailing 17-6.
Four players later, Todd Heap, who went on to play for ASU and the Baltimore Ravens, moved from tight end to tailback and completed a 25-yard touchdown pass on a trick play. After a 2-point conversion was successful, Amphi’s lead was 17-14 with 1:38 left in the third quarter.
Amphi’s Antrel Bates, who would finish with 2,237 rushing yards that season, capped the ensuing 75-yard drive with a 5-yard touchdown run to give the Panthers a 24-14 lead with 9:44 remaining.
Jesse Quintana and Justin Foss connected for passes of 16 and 17 yards in the drive. Quintana finished completing 7-of-13 passing attempts for 100 yards.
Mountain View answered with a 22-yard touchdown pass from Tate Gunning to Heap to cut the lead to 24-21 with 6:53 left.
The Toros won their 28th consecutive game and sixth state championship.
Bates, no relation to the popular Bates brothers (Marion, Michael and Mario, who all starred at Amphi) rushed 30 times for 116 yards in his final high school game.
THEY SAID IT: “It all comes down to the same thing time and time again — you have to go with what got you here.” — Amphi coach Vern Friedli to the Tucson Citizen concerning his decision to go for a first down on a fourth-and-1 situation at the Panthers’ 40 with 3:23 left that Mountain View stopped and eventually turned into a chance for scoring the game-winning touchdown.
DID YOU KNOW: Antrel Bates originally signed with Arizona but never played in college. He attended Pima Community College and later became employed at Old Pueblo Septic and Drain Service, Inc.
BOXSCORE (printed in the Arizona Daily Star):