The Sand Devils defeated the Chinle Wildcats Friday night. They finished the regular season 8-2 and were 5-0 in their section, which earned them the title of 3A north sectional champions.
It was a crisp fall night at Cyclone stadium and the Sand Devils football team looked crisp as well in nearly all aspects of their game. It was the last home game of the season and senior night to boot and senior quarterback Jacob Doyle put on an amazing show for the fans in the stands as he found his way into the end zone five times.
The Sand Devils began the game on offense and put together a solid drive built on their reliable run game. Doyle and running back Kele Meredith advanced the ball downfield in three to seven yard segments. Doyle finished the drive with a 25 yard scamper into the endzone. An attempted pass for the PAT came up short.
Page defensive end Ethan Young ended Chinle’s first drive when he sacked their quarterback for a six yard loss on fourth down.
The Sand Devils’ second drive was similar to their first. A 46 yard drive, with Doyle and Meredith getting most of the carries, ending on a two yard touchdown run by Doyle in the closing minute of the first quarter to give his team a 12-0 lead. The Sand Devils wouldn’t score again the first half.
Head football coach Mitchell Stephens must be one heck of a motivational speaker because his team returned from halftime fired-up and ready to play the way their fans are used to seeing them play.
The Wildcats began the third quarter on offense and began putting together a good drive, but it ended when Doyle, playing safety, intercepted a Wildcats pass and returned it 65 yards for the score. The Sand Devils added two more points on the PAT.
On the ensuing kickoff Page kicked an onside kick, which Austin Green jumped on to return possession to the Sand Devils. Starting from the Chinle 46 yard line Doyle, Meredith and Hayden Gracia carried the ball down the field in quick succession. The drive culminated with Meredith finding paydirt. They added two points on the PAT after Doyle found wide receiver Dainian Bitsinnie in the corner of the endzone. The Sand Devils led 28-0 halfway through the third quarter.
Bitsinnie was the hero again just seconds later when he recovered another Sand Devils onside kick. Again Doyle, Meredith and Gracia wasted no time getting to the red zone, biting off yards in ten to 15 yard gulps. Doyle finished the drive on an 18 yard touchdown run.
The Sand Devils overwhelmed the Wildcats on every down during the second half and midway through the third quarter the Wildcats played like a team that was flustered and confused. They started their next drive from their own 20 yard line but a Sand Devils sack parked them on the ten yard line. They fumbled on third down which Gracia scooped up and carried into the end zone, making the score 40 to 0.
Doyle, who already had 24 points, would score one more time on the Sand Devils next possession. Starting from their own 47 yard line Gracia battled the ball down the field in three and five yard bursts. Doyle finished with an eleven yard touchdown run.
The Wildcats rallied at the end of the fourth quarter long enough to put eight points on the board, which made the final score 46-8.
Sand Devils fans, friends and family rushed onto the field as their victorious team hoisted the trophy for 3A sectional north champs.
I’ve seen a lot of improvement in this team since our summer practices,” said head football coach Stephens. “They deserve it. They’ve worked very hard for it.”
The Sand Devils have a bye the first week of playoffs.
Coach Stephens said his team will be going back to the fundamentals during practice this week and when they learn who their opponent will be they’ll tailor their practices to their opponent’s style of play.
He added that they have quite a few players who are banged up and an extra week to heal will help his team a lot.
The Sand Devils next play Nov. 4th at a place and time and against an opponent yet to be determined.
Doyle had 14 carries for 106 yard and four touchdowns. He also had a defensive touchdown. Meredith had 22 carries for 126 yards and one touchdown. Gracia had 15 carries for 77 yards. He also had a defensive touchdown.