Catalina Foothills defeated Rio Rico 63-29 on Friday night to win its third-straight game and keep its 4A playoff hopes alive.
The No. 23 Falcons (5-3 overall, 3-0 4A Gila) are tied for first place with Walden Grove in the 4A Gila region. Its final two regular season games are against region opponents, Sahuaro (4-4, 2-1) and Walden Grove (6-2, 3-0).
“Since we’ve got to region play, we’ve got the first ranking, it’s been playoffs the entire time,” Catalina Foothills head coach Daniel Sainz said. “That’s been our mentality, and, you know, we got to execute. we have a shot if we can win out. It’s a tough road, so hopefully, we can sneak in there that way, and it’s what we’re doing.
“Every day is the playoffs for us, and if not, we’re going to be packing up in about fifteen days, so guys are hungry for that: to get into the playoffs for the first time in a long time.”
The game was a reunion on two levels because Rio Rico coach Jeff Scurran coached at Catalina Foothills from 2013 to 2018 and was the head coach at Santa Rita from 2007 to 2009, where he coached Sainz.
In 2008, Scurran coached Santa Rita to the state championship game when Sainz was a senior center.
“It’s part of the reason I’m losing my voice,” Sainz said. “It was a big deal to play coach. I have a lot of respect for him, he taught me a lot. The experience I had from being a player for him is one of the reasons I’m here today.”
Catalina Foothills junior running back Samuel Delgado ran the opening kickoff back to the Rio Rico 2-yard-line, leading to a rushing touchdown on the game’s opening play from senior running back Eden Bae.
On Catalina Foothills next possession, junior quarterback Austin Bourn was hit while he was passing, throwing an interception into the hands of Rio Rico sophomore free safety Pedro Castillo. He ran it back 60 yards for a touchdown to tie the game with 7:54 remaining in the first quarter.
That was one of the few mistakes Bourn, who finished with five passing touchdowns, made all night.
After the Falcons recovered a short kick, senior Charlie Keables scored on a 6-yard TD run to put Catalina Foothills back up 14-7.
Three of Bourn’s touchdown passes came on the following three possessions for the Falcons: a 35-yard reception to senior Kincaid Bergthold, a 10-yard reception to senior wide receiver Cole Revis, and a 45-yard reception by Revis that put the Falcons up 35-7 with 9:08 remaining in the first half.
“Early on, they were bringing a lot of pressure,” Bourn said. “We kind of combatted that by just getting the ball out quick, getting it to our players like Cole (Revis) here and then they had to back off, so later in the game, we went with the run. I hit Tyler Tellam late in the game with a passing touchdown. I had to make sure he got one; he’s one of our better seniors and kind of got them on their heels a little bit.
Rio Rico (3-5, 1-2) closed the gap to 35-13 lead at halftime, thanks to a 60-yard touchdown reception by Francisco Arrellano with 1:43 remaining. The Hawks would fail on the ensuing two-point conversion attempt.
It was Rio Rico who got on the board first in the second half, when junior running back Uriel Rivas ran it in from the 2-yard line following a 58-yard reception junior tight end Marlo Rodriguez.
Catalina Foothills would go on to outscore the Hawks 28-8.
Revis, who finished with three touchdown receptions, has built chemistry with Bourn as the season has progressed.
“A.B. (Bourn) came into the starting spot this year, so just so fine-tuning and getting it going all year,” he said. “We’re looking to make a playoff run, so it should be good.”
As the Falcons enter the season’s final two games on a push for the playoffs, Sainz is looking to limit some of the big plays the defense gave up on Friday night.
“The big plays we’ve got to clean up for sure to have a chance,” he said. “Walden Grove is a deep-threat team, and Sahuaro, again, will just try to attack us with really talented kids.”
Catalina Foothills plays Friday, Nov. 4, at Sahuaro. Rio Rico plays Friday, Nov. 4, at Amphi. Kickoff for both games is at 7 p.m.
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ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com writing intern Kevin Murphy was born and raised in Tucson, and has followed Arizona Wildcats athletics since childhood. Murphy is a journalist product manager with the Green Valley News & the Sahuarita Sun. He is currently attending the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at ASU where he is working towards a Bachelor’s degree in Mass Communication and Media Studies.