Pima looks to have best start in program’s history

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Sophomore Deontay Townsend attempts to break away while two defenders try to take him down during the Sept. 12 game against New Mexico Military Institute. Townsend rushed for 209 yards with 36 carries and the Aztecs went on to win 58-31. (Aztec Press photos by Nick Meyers)

By STEVEN FOWLER

The No. 12 ranked Pima Community College football team (4-0, 0-0 in ACCAC)  continues their winning streak and is on their way to having the best start in program history.

The Aztecs latest victory was an impressive 58-31 win over New Mexico Military Institute on Sept. 12.

In the first half Pima easily took a commanding 28 point lead. Finishing the half  38-10 and with an impressive 435 yards of total offense, accompanied with 27 first downs.

Quarterback and red-shirt freshman Antonio Hinojosa ended the game with four touchdowns and 205 passing yards.

Townsend scored a touchdown and rushed for 92 yards in the first half, finishing the game with a total of 104 yards rushing.

PCC made an incredible comeback on Saturday, Sept. 5 against Eastern Arizona College in Thatcher.

Entering the fourth quarter down 33-17, the Aztecs scored 19 points to defeat Eastern 36-33 and remain undefeated.

Townsend had an outstanding game rushing for 209 yards on 36 carries while scoring two touchdowns. His display of pure athleticism earned Townsend  “Offensive Player of the Week” honors through the ACCAC.

Sophomore running back Deontay Townsend proved that his “Offensive Player of the Week” was no fluke.

Hinojosa went 15-29 for 172 yards passing and passed for a touchdown while fellow freshman, wide receiver/defensive back,Timmy Hernandez had nine catches for 120 yards including the game-winning touchdown.

Special Teams Spotlight

In football, special teams are compiled of players that are on the field during kicking plays. The special teams are on the field during kickoffs, kickoff, kick returns, punts, and punt returns.

Going into 2015, Pima has their sights set on a potential playoff run  and knew their team needed to improve in several areas.

Following a brief yet successful coaching stint at Scottsdale Community College, Pima hired Christian Vitale for a second stint as the special team’s coordinator.

“When I came to Pima, my special operations units made a huge impact with my play designs and the techniques that I use with one man focusing only on special teams…” said Vitale. “ My passion for it shows through in my meetings and on the field practice for the last five years in the NJCAA,”

“My special teams have been in the top five in the nation. I either put the teams in a winning position or we win the games.”

Last season, Pima’s special teams lacked in depth, Tanner Fanning, served as both the primary kicker and punter.

Now, in 2015, freshman punter Geovan Neuser and freshman kicker Nathan Farmer man the positions,

respectively.

To begin the season, Farmer has gone 15-16 in extra point attempts including one field goal.

Neuser punted for 189 yards while averaging 31.5 yards per kick with his longest reaching 47 yards.

“Nathan brings long distance with us for kickoffs and good accuracy on field goals and PAT (Points After Touchdown),” Vitale said.

“Geo brings the threat of fake punts with him along with a good strong leg so we can run tons of

different fakes and formations with him back there because he is a run and pass threat.”

“They’re in a unique program throughout the year where they are training year round from December all the way through until the following season,” Vitale added.

Sophomore Landry Payne, the returner, has been a key piece to the Aztec’s special teams this season. In two games, Payne has scored two TD’s and ran for 290 yards while averaging 58 yards per carry. His height, his body thickness, his speed and vision make him a dangerous returner according to Vitale.

“Yamamoto is a fast speedy gunner down the field. Along with that, our leadership of #34 Birkel and our line gives more leadership on the line. Our kickoff unit right now is holding its own, all 10 men are doing their job of flying down there and disrupting our opponent’s return.”

With Coach Vitale consistently observing how his players do on the field whether in practice or in games, he wants his players to play like it’s the playoffs.

Vitale’s philosophy of special teams is strictly military style. He believes that everyone on the team has a job. This includes attending required meetings. If one person fails on the unit, then the whole unit fails.

On the field, the team keeps a chain that goes with their philosophy, “no weak links.”

“We can’t have one person be the weak link or else everything falls apart, and the chain breaks,” Vitale said.

The undefeated Aztecs will play their next game Saturday, Sept. 19 against Mesa Community College.

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Townsend goes down under pressure from two defenders during the Sept. 12 game against New Mexico Militray Institute. (Aztec Press photos by Nick Meyers)

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