Tanque Verde defeated Bisbee 26-8 at home on Friday night, switching positions with the Pumas atop the 2A San Pedro region.
Bisbee held an 8-6 lead heading into the fourth quarter, but an early fourth-quarter field goal by Tanque Verde gave them the lead, and the Hawks rattled off 17 points to close out the game.
Tanque Verde (6-2) and Bisbee (5-3) are both 4-1 in region play, but the Hawks now have the tiebreaker for first place in the region with two regular season games remaining.
“First and foremost, Bisbee is a great team,” Tanque Verde head coach Jeff Bollnow said. “(They’re) super athletic; their quarterback Sebastian Lopez is doing everything this year. We played a great game. Luckily, we were able to come out on top. I really gotta give credit to my boys. They worked their butts off this week. I put a lot of ownership on them — my seniors — and they all stepped up and really started to do their thing.”
First-year head coach Bollnow has the Hawks tied for a program record in wins after picking up its sixth win on Friday night. Previous Tanque Verde head coach Arizona standout receiver Jay Dobyns, who turned the once dormant program around in his three years at the helm, went 6-3 in 2021.
Tanque Verde’s defense contained Lopez in the second half after the senior quarterback scored all eight of the Puma’s points on Friday night with 40 seconds to go in the first half on a 40-yard touchdown run and a rushing two-point conversion that followed.
“We know that their quarterback is a hell of an athlete,” Tanque Verde senior linebacker and running back Gavin Gilbert said. “Shout out to number three (Lopez). He’s huge two-way player and dual threat. Our whole plan was to stop him, and once we stopped him, the rest came with it, and we just came out on top.”
Gilbert rushed for 172 yards on 27 carries and had two touchdowns. He finished with 12 total tackles, including one tackle for loss.
At the time of publication, Gilbert’s 24 tackles for loss this season are the most by any player in the state, according to MaxPreps.
Gilbert credits the bond of senior leaders on the team for their success this season.
“We’ve been together for four years. All of our seniors we’ve been putting in the work, and we’ve built that bond, and that bond is unbreakable and unstoppable,” Gilbert said.
He also credits Bollnow for picking up where Dobyns left off in his tenure leading the Hawks.
“He’s (Bollnow) an awesome coach, and he’s a great friend to us, Gilbert said. That’s important. He keeps in touch with us. Jay Dobyns, left us with a great, great platform, and I’m thankful that Bollnow was able to come in and pick up off of that, and he just kept building and building, and that’s what we need as a coach. We needed his guidance and leadership to add on to everybody we’ve built with Dobyns”
For Bollnow, a large part of this season’s success is the result of execution on the field and the character of the players in the program.
“Ultimately, when we talk about culture, what we’re doing here, we’re just trying to play good football and be good people, and everything else is kind of taking care of itself, ” he said “So we’ll just keep continuing to focus on those two things, and we let the chips fall where they may.
Tanque Verde plays at Glendale Prep Academy (6-2, 3-2) next Friday. Bisbee plays at home against Tombstone (6-2, 2-2) next Friday. Both games are at 7 p.m. Tucson time.
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ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com writer 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 has a bachelor’s degree from the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at ASU.