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CHAMPIONSHIP: Class 4A Division II
SCORE: Palo Verde 15, Mingus Union 7
DATE: December 2, 2005
SITE: Arizona Stadium
GAME SUMMARY: Palo Verde senior tailback Robert Webster ran 182 yards on 27 carries to lead Palo Verde to its second state title — and the last for an inner-city public-school team in Tucson — in the thriller at Arizona Stadium.
Todd Mayfield, son of Tucson High great coach Ollie Mayfield (who led the Badgers to state titles in 1970 and 1971), utilized the same approach as his dad by predominantly running the ball against Mingus (11-3).
The Titans (11-3) rushed for 270 yards on 58 carries. Palo Verde dominated time-of-possession 33:34 to the Marauders’ 14:26. Senior quarterback Victor Yates attempted only three passes.
Webster, who broke the single-season rushing record with 1,584 yards, put Palo Verde ahead 6-0 with a 45-yard touchdown run on the second play of the game.
Senior halfback Marcus Sherfield’s 5-yard TD run on a sweep play to the right gave the Titans a 12-0 lead with 5:19 left in the first quarter.
Mingus’ offense never scored in the game but its special teams was responsible for a score as Ryan Hauser returned the opening kickoff the second half for a touchdown to cut the lead to 12-7.
The defense held firm thereafter and Palo Verde executing a physically and emotionally draining drive for Mingus between the third and fourth quarters that resulted in a 21-yard field goal by freshman Taylor Redman to give the Titans a 15-7 lead.
Palo Verde remarkably nearly took 12 minutes off the clock in the drive on 20 plays.
The Titans’ defense, led by ends Marvin Strickland and Matt Koechle, forced Mingus to surrender the ball on downs in their last two possessions of the game.
The Marauders entered the game averaging 34 points a game while rushing for more than 3,000 yards that season. They finished with 120 yards rushing on 29 carries.
DID YOU KNOW: The state titles won by Southern Arizona schools after Palo Verde’s title are by private schools Salpointe in 2013 and Pusch Ridge in 2015, Marana’s Ironwood Ridge in 2012, northwest school CDO in 2009 and Eloy’s Santa Cruz Valley in 2020. The void of inner-city public schools winning a state title is at 16 years and counting.
THEY SAID IT: “I can’t believe it. To think about this in August and then to see us here now. … We’re state champions. We’ve never stopped fighting all year. Now I’m about to go over to my team and cry.” — Palo Verde running back Robert Webster to the Tucson Citizen.
BOX SCORE (printed in Tucson Citizen):