This Thursday, Yurview’s National Game of the Week kicks off at 7:00 MST from Arizona, and what a match-up it is. Coming into this season, the Pinnacle Pioneers (3-1) and Centennial Coyotes (3-0) were both on short lists as state championship contenders in their respective classes.
6A Pinnacle’s only blemish so far this season, came two weeks ago at Chandler. That’s where the Pioneers lost a heartbreaker against the reigning state champion Wolves in overtime 35-28.
5A Centennial is not only undefeated after three games, but they have not allowed a single point this season. The Coyotes have outscored their opponents 134-0.
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Top ranked Centennial is a perennial power in Arizona. Since 2005, the Coyotes have won 5 state titles, finished state runner-up 4 times, and made the semifinals twice and quarterfinals once. During that span, the Coyotes have a record of 150-18 and won at least 10 games every season.
“Expectations are very high and kids come here not just to play, not just to have fun, but to give an effort to win a state championship. To get a college scholarship and try to be seen. Last year we had 57 college recruiters come out and watch our practices, so our kids get looked at a lot.” said Centennial Head Coach Richard Taylor.
Taylor is in his 25th year at the helm for Centennial, and has been the only head varsity football coach the school has ever had. The Coyotes finished with a 13-1 record last season. Their lone loss came in the state finals to Williams Field by a score of 14-6.
Centennial brings back plenty of key players from last year’s team and are hoping to hoist the gold ball at the end of the season. “The hurt of being there and walking away as the loser is something that has driven a lot of our kids. They want to get back there again and prove they can play better than they did last time.” Taylor said.
Big Time Recruits
Offensively, Centennial returns 4 starters on the line along with senior quarterback Ruben Beltran III, senior running back / slot back Alex Escobar, and senior running back Zidane Thomas. The 5’10”, 205 pound Thomas, who has committed to Boise State, rushed for 2,329 yards and 22 touchdowns last season. Defensively, the Coyotes are led by Dominque Hampton.
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The senior cornerback, a Washington commit, returned two interceptions for touchdowns in the first game of the season against Desert Edge. Hampton has also run a 10.8 100 meters on the track, and can handle his business against any wide receiver in the state.
Hampton and the Coyotes defense will be put to the test by one of the most explosive offenses in the state. Pinnacle junior QB Spencer Rattler is rated as the number one dual threat quarterback in the class of 2019 by both ESPN Junior 300 and Rivals. The Pioneers signal caller was also named to the CBS Sports Preseason Junior All American team. Pinnacle head coach Dana Zupke said, “a lot of times I am literally just in awe because I know I am watching somebody special. He has that special sauce, he has that “it” factor. He has the ability to extend plays, make something happen when things aren’t going right. The poise and moxie he has makes him exceptional.”
Rattler, who has been starting since his freshman year, has verbally committed to Oklahoma. He also had offers from Alabama, Tennessee, Texas A&M, Miami, and UCLA. Last season Rattler threw for 2,893 yards and 29 touchdowns, and ran for 462 yards and 5 scores. This season through 4 games, Rattler has thrown for 901 yards and 9 touchdowns. The junior signal caller spoke Monday about his commitment to Oklahoma. “Once I met Lincoln Riley (Oklahoma’s first year head coach who was OU’s offensive coordinator last year) I had a feeling that this was a guy I would like my coach to be like. We just developed a great relationship, and when I went up there last summer to visit I knew it was the right place. So I pulled the trigger.”
Last year when these two teams squared off Centennial rolled 56-25, but this year the game expects to be much closer. Rattler is more experienced and confident as he continues to work on his craft. “I work on everything every Sunday. I go out with my quarterback coach and we work on the little things. Footwork, pocket presence, all of that good stuff. I try and get better and better every day.”
Ultimately it will be strength vs. strength. Pinnacle head coach Dana Zupke’s offense, which is averaging 37 points per game, going up against a Centennial defense that has not been scored on in 3 games. Something has to give. The answer will come Thursday night on Yurview’s national game of the week.
You can watch the game on YurView or stream the game live this Thursday at 7:00 MST on YurView.com.