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FOOTBALL : Pima season 'disappointing'

FOOTBALL : Pima season ‘disappointing’

By CASEY MUSE JR

 

The Pima Community College football team finished the 2016 season Nov. 12 with a 37-32 home defeat to No. 9 ranked Mesa Community College.

The game was close throughout, with Mesa busting out of the gates to score first. The Aztecs answered right away on a 57-yard touchdown pass from freshman Justin Martin to freshman Jalen Edwards to tie the game.

The second quarter remained close as Martin answered another Mesa score with a 6-yard touchdown run. The Aztecs trailed 20-14 at halftime.

Pima had arguably its biggest play of the game on the first series of the third quarter.

The Aztecs forced a punt by Mesa that was blocked by sophomore Brandon Yamamoto and scooped up by freshman Logan Stewart for the game-tying score.

The momentum shifted another time as Mesa scored on its next two drives to take a commanding 34-20 lead.

Pima did everything it could in the fourth quarter, beginning with a 69-yard touchdown reception by sophomore Jeff Cotton to cut the lead to 34-26.

One final Mesa field goal was answered with a 7-yard touchdown by Martin.

The Aztec defense got a crucial stop on the next series to set up the offense with one final opportunity to win.

Pima showed plenty of heart during its final drive, earning a fourth-down conversion on another quarterback-keeper from Martin.

However, the drive stalled on a final deep ball attempt to Cotton. This forced the Aztecs to turn the ball over on downs one last time with three seconds left.

Martin finished the game with four total touchdowns, two passing and two rushing.

The final score did not read the way the Aztecs wanted but the team fought until the very end. That was the theme for this entire season.

Pima finished the 2016 season at 3-6 overall and 2-5 in WSFL/ACCAC conference play.

Cotton was selected first team All-WSFL/ACCAC and first team All-Region at wide receiver.

Sophomore Jordan Agasiva was named first team All-WSFL/ACCAC and first team All-Region as an offensive lineman.

Sophomore Kana’I Picanco was named second team All-WSFL/ACCAC and second team All-Region at linebacker.

Sophomore Paul Davis was selected second team All-WSFL/ACCAC and second team All-Region at defensive back.

“This was a disappointing season,” head coach Jim Monaco said after the Mesa game.

“However, we learned a lot throughout the season,” he added. “We were very young, we were hurt. We could have quit on the season but we didn’t and for that you have to be proud.”

Look ahead to 2017, Monaco said he’s excited to have an opportunity to come back and lead the program again.

Freshman defensive back Beau Griego also plans to return. “I’ll be back, excited for next season,” he said.

 

Pima defensive backs line up against Mesa in a 37-32 loss on Nov.12 Photo by Casey Muse Jr.

Pima defensive backs line up against Mesa in a 37-32 loss on Nov.12
Photo by Casey Muse Jr.

 

FOOTBALL: Pima takes one of two games

FOOTBALL: Pima takes one of two games

By CASEY MUSE JR

Sophomore wide receiver Jeff Cotton earned Offensive Player of the week honors Nov. 1. photo by PCC Athletics

Sophomore wide receiver Jeff Cotton earned Offensive Player of the week honors Nov. 1.
photo by PCC Athletics

 

The Pima Community College football team (3-5, 2-4 in WSFL) came close to completing a big comeback in a road contest against Glendale Community College on Nov. 5, but lost 30-24.

The Aztecs battled in the first half to a manageable 16-10 deficit, but it was all Glendale in the third quarter. The Aztecs were outscored 14-0 and entered the fourth quarter down 30-10.

Freshman quarterback Justin Martin and the offense found life on their opening drive of the quarter when Martin connected with sophomore receiver Caymen Metcalf for a 17-yard touchdown.

After the Pima defense forced a punt on the next drive, Martin connected with sophomore Jeff Cotton on a 48-yard touchdown reception to make it a one-score game with just over five minutes left in the game.

Another good series by the Aztecs defense gave Martin and company one last shot to obtain the win. Martin found Cotton for a 35-yard reception to get the Aztecs past midfield, but the offense stalled and time ran out.

Martin finished the game with three touchdowns.

On Oct. 29, PCC used a huge offensive second half to end a three-game losing streak. The Aztecs took down the Phoenix College Bears 69-27 in resounding fashion.

The home game began with a tight first quarter that saw one Pima touchdown matched by a Phoenix College field goal.

The Aztecs broke the game open with their best offensive quarter of the season in the second. Pima scored 28 points and took a 35-13 lead into the halftime break.

The team added another 34 points in the second half while dismantling Phoenix College’s defense.

Martin had another solid outing with 14 pass completions for 320 yards and one touchdown.

He also ran the ball 11 times for an additional 81 yards and two touchdowns. His longest rushing touchdown was an athletic 19-yard scramble.

Freshman Christian Wilridge had 10 carries for 79 yards and one touchdown. Cotton had six catches, 152 yards and one touchdown.

The offense finished the game with 634 total yards.

Pima’s defense did its job as well. Freshman Dominique Fenstermacher returned an interception for a 46-yard touchdown at the end of the first half.

Quarterback plays for love of the game

Quarterback plays for love of the game

By CASEY MUSE JR

Pima Community College quarterback Justin Martin is enjoying an amazing freshman season, but the kid had no idea any of it would happen the way that it has.

Martin grew up a big fan of the game.

“I’ve been playing football since like sixth grade,” Martin said. “I played for the Tucson Redskins on the west side of town.”

Martin has always been an all-around athlete and never had a designated position until college.

“I started out at running back but I practically played every position on the field back then,” he said. “I realized that I just loved touching the football.”

Before long, Martin was playing his own games on Saturday mornings and studying his idols on Sunday.

“I used to love Cadillac Williams and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers,” he said. “When I started watching them on TV, I started to think. ‘I can do that.’”

Martin took his talents to Cholla High School for freshman year and was soon called up to varsity.

“It was a rough year on the field,” he said. “I didn’t get too many reps starting out but the experience was important.”

By sophomore year, Martin was starting at quarterback and safety but it was another rough year for his team.

Things changed dramatically for Martin at this point in his life and career. “My step-dad took an assistant coaching position at Pueblo High School, so I transferred,” he said.

Playing for his step-dad was a dream come true for Martin.

“He plays a big part in my life, a really big part,” he said. “I appreciate him and love him as if he were my father.”

Martin brought a certain “it” factor to Pueblo, which did not necessarily have a winning culture.

“I hated losing with a passion,” he said. “We had to start changing things around. We also got a new head coach that year.”

Martin led Pueblo to the playoffs for the first time in 25 years, an accomplishment that is still held in high regard.

“We lost first round but the experience was still amazing,” he said. “It took until my senior year for me to make the playoffs. I enjoyed the moment.”

As high school was winding down, Martin began to contemplate college. After weighing his options, he committed to PCC for the 2016-17 season.

“I was actually brought into training camp as a receiver, believe it or not,” Martin said.

“We had some quarterback issues all throughout camp,” he added. “I remember one day just tossing the ball around and next thing I know the coaches are asking me to throw in drills, and I was moved to quarterback.”

At that moment, Martin said, he realized he was meant to play quarterback. He has no intention of switching positions again.

Martin has built strong relationships with his teammates, including sophomore running back Sirgeo Hoffman and freshman receiver Jalen Edwards.

He has also developed an important relationship with head coach Jim Monaco.

“Monaco is a great guy,” Martin said. “He really just wants the best for us and he is always going to fight for us. I’m very lucky to have the opportunity to play for him.”

After Pima’s 21-9 loss against Arizona Western College, Monaco had encouraging words for Martin.

“You’ve got all the talent in the world,” he said during a post-game huddle. “You’ve got to keep your head up and lead this team.”

Martin’s 1,147 passing yards and 11 touchdowns are some of the highest marks in the conference.

He hopes to continue playing football throughout college and wants to play Division 1 someday.

For now, he’s thankful for the opportunity to do what he loves and extremely proud to be a Pima Aztec.

Quarterback Justin Martin. (Photo courtesy PCC)

Quarterback Justin Martin. (Photo courtesy PCC)

FOOTBALL: After taste of success, Aztecs hungry for more

FOOTBALL: After taste of success, Aztecs hungry for more

By CASEY MUSE JR

The Pima Community College football team hopes to build on a successful 2015 season despite facing a tough conference schedule for 2016.

The Aztecs committed five turnovers and were held scoreless Sept. 10 in a 20-0 loss to No. 5 Arizona Western College in Yuma.

AWC set the tone with a first-quarter interception of a tipped pass by freshman quarterback Justin Martin. The Matadors then blocked both a field goal and a punt attempt before scoring their first touchdown of the night.

The Aztecs finished the first half with 98 yards of total offense. They attempted to rally in the second half and had a chance to score in the fourth quarter but turned the ball over on downs.

Pima started the season by defeating Air Force Prep Academy 42-24 on Sept. 2 in Colorado Springs.

The game was a dogfight in the first half, with the Aztecs only able to mount a one-touchdown lead at the break.

In the second half, Martin helped the Aztecs outscore their opponent 21-10. Martin totaled 400 yards and six touchdowns, throwing for five touchdowns and running for one.

He was named WSFL/ACCAC Offensive Player of the Week on Sept. 7.

Last year, the Aztecs boasted a 4-1 home record and were 7-4 overall. They finished as runners-up in the Western States Football League, falling in the championship game to Snow College of Utah.

PCC ranked 13th in the nation in scoring with 407 total points and 15th in total offense at 4,376 total yards. The team was also 12th in first downs per game at 21.6.

Head coach Jim Monaco returns to lead the team in 2016. Pima entered the season unranked but was the fifth and final team to receive votes and consideration for the top 20 NJCAA poll.

Sophomore running back Sirgeo Hoffman will play a big role on offense, jumping from productive backup to full-time starter. Sophomore wide receiver Jeff Cotton will also be asked to step up.

The Aztecs return one of the most intriguing defenses in the conference. Last year, they were eighth in the nation with 954 total tackles, second in the nation in fumble recoveries at 16 and seventh in the nation in defensive touchdowns with five.

“Our goal on defense this season is to get the ball back to the offense and, more specifically, stop the run,” defensive coordinator Pat Ryden said. “Our long-term goal is to win our conference and play in a bowl game.”

Look for sophomore linebacker Kana’l Picanco to be thrust into the limelight. Sophomore cornerback Paul Davis will anchor a secondary unit that plans to cause problems for opposing quarterbacks.

Ryden also offered “welcome back” to sophomore linebacker Tyson Otuafi, who is returning to the team from a two-year church mission.

“We just need to make sure that we are tough and physical in all aspects on our side of the ball,” Ryden said.

 

ON DECK

Sept. 17: Scottsdale CC, Kino North Stadium, 7 p.m.

Oct. 8: Eastern Arizona College, Kino North Stadium, 7 p.m.

Selfless player determined to succeed

Selfless player determined to succeed

by STEVEN FOWLER

Nineteen-year-old Deontay Townsend is one of the most determined athletes. Day-in and day-out, the Pima Community College sophomore running back has a simple mindset – to put everything in God’s hands, to be an everyday leader, to play smart.

Originally from Little Rock, Ark., Townsend moved to the greater Phoenix area when he was in sixth grade. At 10-years-old, his interest in football took off. He’d watch football and post-game highlights over and over on every available sports channel, including ESPN, when he had the opportunity. Townsend said that watching football was not enough for him and that he wanted to play it.

“My biggest influence is my mother. I just see how hard she works and takes care of her three children that she raised. That made me want to take care of her and I saw football was a way to do that because it’s something that I love and it’s something you can make a career out of,” Townsend said. “I want to work my hardest to keep my goals and meet them so I can make my family happy.

At 13, Townsend began his football career at Peoria High School. He later transferred to Mountain Pointe High School following the first semester of his freshman year.

“I always loved working out. I had descent speed and I decided to play,” Townsend said. “If I’m going to do this then I’m going to put my heart into it. And in the offseason, work out hard and be ready for the upcoming season.”

In his senior football season at Mountain Pointe, Townsend anchored his team’s offense by scoring five touchdowns on 36 carries for 279 yards. Mountain Pointe finished the 2013 season with an undefeated (14-0) record, including a state-title win over Hamilton High School. Townsend recalled that it was one of his most memorable highlights of his career thus far.

“That team there was such a great team. It was a great set of guys to be around. They were all about the football family. We all had team dinners and stuff like that,” Townsend said. “We took care of each other, helped each other with homework and made sure everyone had a ride home. You just got to love those guys.”

Quite a few teammates of Townsend’s have played for Mountain Pointe and Pima which include Antonio Hinojosa, Wesley Payne, Timmy Hernandez, Isaiah Jones, Keondre Churchwell, Natrelle Curtis, Markell Simmons and Zach Blohm.

Following graduation, Townsend was ready to start the next phase of his football career, playing running back for a junior college, Pima Community College under head coach Jim Monaco.

“Great work ethic. Deontay has made himself as good as he is. When he came out of high school, he was a very good running back,” Monaco said. “And he’s worked incredibly hard to make himself better, make himself faster, get himself stronger, learn more about the system and its paid off for him.”

In his first season as Pima’s running back, Townsend rushed 99 times for 436 yards while scoring five touchdowns in 10 games played. He was satisfied but was driven to improve even more. Following the conclusion of the season, Townsend went back to the training room to improve.

In 2015, Townsend was named WSFL Player of the Week twice. The first coming after Pima’s Sept. 5 game against Eastern Arizona College when rushed 36 times for 209 yards while scoring two touchdowns in a nail-biting 36-33 win. Townsend was named WSFL Player of the Week again for his performance in a 34-19 win over Glendale Community College when he rushed 25 times for 162 yards while scoring two touchdowns.

In response to his recent recognition, Townsend said, “My family was so proud. I have great fans and family. My teammates, they goof around and say, “Oh, hey, player of the week, you got any interviews that you got to do and stuff like that?” It’s good to see it but I don’t like to talk about it. I always want to be humble about situations, just going on to the next and try to be Player of the Week.”

In 11 games this season, Townsend has set career highs in every offensive category, nearly doubling it, in rushes (213), yards (1160), yardage per game (105.5), average yards per carry (5.4) and touchdowns (14).

“He’s in the top-5 in rushing and touchdowns in the country. He’s done a tremendous job,” Monaco said.

And Townsend has done a tremendous job on the field.

“Honestly Townsend is probably one of the best backs I’ve played with,” red-shirt sophomore offensive lineman Alex Rios said. “When we get heated as a whole line, he keeps us cool and focused on the goal or winning the game. He’s just very focused in every game.”

At Pima, Townsend is working on a Liberal Arts Degree in Business where he has a particular interest in sports management. After he transfers, Townsend would like to play in the Big 12 or the Southeastern Conference (SEC).

Townsend is determined to stick with sports and make a career out of it.

“I want to be a sports agent or I want to do something involved with sports because that’s what I love so much,” Townsend said. “And I just want to help anybody else out. I like to see other people become successful.”

Townsend’s ultimate goal in life is to be remembered as a great football player and an overall better person.

Townsend was named first-team All-ACCAC and second team All-WSFL.

Aztec Press photos by Steven Fowler Townsend was named first-team All-ACCAC and second team All-WSFL.

Sophomore running back Deontay Townsend scores his second touchdown against Snow College in the WSFL Title game. Townsend led the ACCAC and WSFL in carries(213), rushing yards (1,160), yards per game (105.5) and touchdowns (14).

Sophomore running back Deontay Townsend scores his second touchdown against Snow College in the WSFL Title game. Townsend led the ACCAC and WSFL in carries(213), rushing yards (1,160), yards per game (105.5) and touchdowns (14).

 

 

Aztecs lose in WSFL Title

Aztecs lose in WSFL Title

by STEVEN FOWLER

The Pima Community College football team (7-4) fell short in its bid to claim the program’s first Western States Football League championship on Saturday.

The No. 3 seeded Aztecs lost at No. 1 Snow College 26-16 in Ephraim, Utah. This was the second time in three games that the Aztecs traveled to play Snow.

Facing an early 13-0 deficit in the second quarter, freshman Nathan Farmer broke the shutout with a 36-yard field goal at the 7:07 mark.

Down 16-3, the Aztecs began a drive on their 24-yard line with 1:27 left in the half. Freshman Darrell Clark made a catch for 27 yards and another for 12 yards to put the Aztecs in the red zone. Sophomore Deontay Townsend scored a two-yard rushing touchdown to make it 16-10 at halftime.

After a defensive struggle in the third quarter, Snow struck first with a touchdown in the fourth quarter to make it 23-10. After a punt by Pima, Snow extended their lead to 26-10 after Vance “Moose” Bingham kicked a 50-yard field goal with 10:58 remaining in the game.

The Aztecs punted on their first five possessions of the second half until Townsend scored on a two-yard rushing touchdown, his second of the game with 1:36 left. The Aztecs failed to capitalize on a potential two-point conversion and tried an onside kick but Snow recovered. Townsend finished with 34 yards on 12 carries.

Sophomore Donovan Moore went 2-for-6 with 51 passing yards including an interception. Sophomore Kian Homme went 11-for-24 with 114 passing yards. The Pima quarterbacks were sacked nine times. Sophomore Wesley Payne led the Aztecs with eight tackles while freshman Paul Davies had six tackles.

Second-year head coach Jim Monaco was named ACCAC Coach of the Year after leading the Aztecs to a 7-4 overall record, the program’s best record since 2004 when they finished 9-3. Monaco was selected WSFL Co-Coach of the Year along with Snow College’s Britt Maughan.

“This is one of the best years of coaching that I’ve ever had. These kids have worked so hard, we’re so injured and yet they played this kind of game against the No. 3 team in the country,” Monaco said. “I have nothing but pride for my kids. This season has meant everything.”

Pima hopes to play in a bowl game, which is currently undecided. We will keep you updated.

“I love them and they’re awesome kids,” Monaco said.

Sophomore linebacker Wesley Payne was named WSFL and ACCAC Defensive Player of the Year after leading the NJCAA with 149 tackles. Payne led the ACCAC with 13.5 tackles per game and was second in the NJCAA. He was also named first team All-WSFL and All-ACCAC first team.

Aztec Press photos by Steven Fowler The Aztecs defense prepares to attack the opposing offense once the ball is snapped. Sophomore Wesley Payne led the Aztecs with eight tackles while freshman Paul Davis had six tackles.

Aztec Press photos by Steven Fowler
The Aztecs defense prepares to attack the opposing offense once the ball is snapped. Sophomore Wesley Payne led the Aztecs with eight tackles while freshman Paul Davis had six tackles.

Freshman linebacker Rozario Martinez reflects on his team’s performance during the first half against Snow College.

Freshman linebacker Rozario Martinez reflects on his team’s performance during the first half against Snow College.

FOOTBALL: No. 3 Aztecs head to playoffs

FOOTBALL: No. 3 Aztecs head to playoffs

by STEVEN FOWLER

The Pima Community College football team (6-3, 5-3 in WSFL) played through a rough first half and held the lead at the break but was unable to maintain the lead in the second half against No. 8 Snow College.

The Aztecs surrendered 28 unanswered points in the third quarter in their 48-27 loss at Snow College on Saturday, Oct. 24 for the WSFL conference regular season title.

PCC went into the second half up 13-10,  when Snow College capitalized on the three Pima turnovers in the third quarter while holding onto a 38-13 lead going into the fourth quarter.

The Aztecs made a comeback by cutting the deficit in half as sophomore quarterback Kian Homme, threw a 32-yard touchdown pass to freshman Timmy Hernandez. The Aztecs recovered the onside kick with 5:51 left in the game. Deontay Townsend then scored on a 25-yard run to make it 38-27. Snow College scored on a field goal and a pick-6 to seal the victory.

After a nearly three-hour rain delay, the Aztecs defeated Glendale Community College 34-19 at Tucson Magnet High School. The victory put the Aztecs one game behind Snow College and gave them an automatic bid in the WSFL winner’s bracket. Eastern Arizona College defeated Snow 37-27.

Glendale struck first as they returned the opening kickoff for a touchdown to put the Aztecs behind early. Pima would find their groove as sophomore quarterback Donovan Moore scored two rushing touchdowns. His first came on a two-yard run to tie the game 7-7. Moore scored his second touchdown on a two-yard run to put the Aztecs ahead 31-10 with 13:07 left in the game.

Moore received plenty of help from fellow sophomore Deontay Townsend, who also ran for two touchdowns. He gave the Aztecs a 14-7 lead early in the second quarter after a two-yard run. The Aztecs marched 95 yards on the drive while sophomore Eric Dedrick made a 30-yard reception to set up the score. Up 17-7 with 1:01 left in the half, sophomore Landry Payne returned a punt to the Glendale 23-yardline. Townsend ran it in for the one-yard touchdown to make it 24-7. The Aztecs led 24-10 at halftime.

Nathan Farmer went 2-for-2 in field goal attempts kicking from the 40- and 31-yard line. Farmer also went 4 for 4 in extra point attempts.

The Aztecs have won six games for the first time since the 2004 season when they finished 9-3 and won the Pilgrim’s Pride Bowl.

The No. 3 seeded Aztecs will play its first WSFL playoff game at No. 2 Arizona Western College on Oct. 31 at 2 p.m.

Photo courtesy of Ben Carbajal Freshman running back Sirgeo Hoffman evades Scottsdale Community College defenders.

Photo courtesy of Ben Carbajal
Freshman running back Sirgeo Hoffman evades Scottsdale Community College defenders.

Aztecs bounce back after loss

Aztecs bounce back after loss

by STEVEN FOWLER

The Pima Community College football team (5-2, 4-2 in ACCAC) snapped a two-game losing streak on Saturday, Oct. 10 at Scottsdale Community College.

Sophomores Wesley Payne and Donovan Moore made a difference on the ground as they each scored two rushing touchdowns in Pima’s 45-17 win on Saturday.

Moore scored two quarterback keeper touchdowns to help set the tone in the first half. Freshman Paul Davis had a 10-yard interception return to put the Aztecs up 14-0. Moore would score another rushing touchdown in the second quarter, putting Pima up 21-14 at halftime.

Payne scored on a 6-yard touchdown to make it 28-14. Scottsdale kicked a field goal on their next possession, but the Aztecs scored 17 unanswered points. Sophomore Eric Dedrick connected with quarterback and fellow sophomore, Kian Homme on a 17-yard touchdown pass to make it 35-17. Payne scored his second rushing touchdown with 1:46 left in the third quarter from two-yards out to make it 42-17

Slot receiver Moore was named Offensive Player of the Week after rushing for 122 yards on 16 carries with two rushing touchdowns.  Moore who also served as the quarterback, went 8-15 with 108 passing yards.

Linebacker Payne was named Defensive Player of the Week after having 16 tackles (eight solo) and one tackle-for-loss.

Pima was unable to get its offense rolling against Arizona Western College at Kino North Stadium on Saturday, Oct. 3, resulting in an Aztec loss 20-10.

Down 7-0 entering the second quarter, the Aztecs scored on the first drive when freshman Nathan Farmer kicked a 21-yard field goal to cut the deficit. Later, the Aztecs capitalized on three Arizona Western penalties as they scored on a nine-play drive. With 2:08 remaining in the half, Sirgeo Hoffman ran into the end zone for Pima’s lone touchdown of the game.

On its first possession of the third quarter, the Aztecs had a punt miscue leading Arizona Western to score a touchdown two plays later to take a 17-10 lead.

The Aztecs had two drives that began deep in Arizona Western territory but were unable to take advantage in the possession. They recovered a fumble on the opening kickoff which put them on the Arizona Western 25-yard line; Homme threw an interception in the end zone.

After Darrell Clark had a 20-plus yard drive. Homme threw his second interception of the game.

With the loss, Pima dropped to 4-2 and is tied with Arizona Western in the conference standings.

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Freshman running back Sirgeo Hoffman looks for the gap against New Mexico Military Institute. Photo Courtesy of PCC Athletics.

Aztec’s winning streak ends in Mesa

Aztec’s winning streak ends in Mesa

by STEVEN FOWLER

A late rally came up short as the Pima Community College football team (4-1, 3-1 in ACCAC) suffered its first loss of the season, Sept. 19 against Mesa Community College.

The Aztecs surrendered 20 points in the first quarter and were unable to take the lead resulting in a 41-27 loss in Mesa.

Down 27-3 in the second quarter, the Aztecs scored 17 points to close the deficit going into the half. Freshman Sergeo Hoffman started off with a 14-yard run for a touchdown to make it 27-10. The Aztecs took advantage of two costly fumbles by Mesa and Sophomore running back Deontay Townsend scored on a 1-yard run to cut the lead to 27-17.

With 1:57 remaining in the half, freshman Nathan Farmer kicked a 37-yard field goal. Freshman Brandon Yamamoto and sophomore Lopeti Fonokalafi had fumble recoveries to set up the scores.

On Pima’s first possession of the second half, freshman quarterback Antonio Hinojosa threw a pick six that was returned by Mesa for an 85-yard touchdown bringing the score to 34-20.

Near the end of the third quarter, the Aztecs cut Mesa’s lead back to one possession with 1:28 left in the quarter after Townsend’s second rushing touchdown for 7 yards.

Mesa scored on their next possession early in the fourth quarter. The Aztecs had a turnover on downs and two turnovers on their possessions in the  finalquarter.

Hinojosa will be out indefinitely with a head injury after suffering a severe hit to the head according to Coach Jim Monaco.

With Hinojosa out, the Aztecs will turn to last year’s starter, Kian Homme.

The Aztecs will be back at Kino on Saturday, Oct. 3 against Arizona Western College at 7 p.m.

Photo courtesy of PCC Athletics Red-shirt freshman Antonio Hinojosa goes for a deep pass against New Mexico Military Institute.

Photo courtesy of PCC Athletics
Red-shirt freshman Antonio Hinojosa goes for a deep pass against New Mexico Military Institute.

Phenomenal players’ lead defense

Phenomenal players’ lead defense

by STEVEN FOWLER

Everything is coming together for the (4-1) Pima Community College football team in what appears to be a Cinderella story.

A year ago, no one expected a team that ranked near the bottom of every category to be doing this well. In 2014, the Aztec’s defense finished far from satisfying. Following the season, the coaches regrouped and went back to the drawing board prior to recruiting.

“Last year we knew we had to get better in every position,” Defensive Coordinator/Linebacker Coach Pat Ryder said.

“This year the recruiting has been phenomenal. We’ve got phenomenal players, especially out of Hawaii. You look at the size differential and speed. Recruiting has improved immensely,” Defensive Back Coach Dan Wickland added.

In an incredible season thus far, the Aztecs’ defense has been superb. With the addition of many newcomers behind the defensive line, the team welcomed back the committee of redshirt freshman and veteran sophomores.

Returning Sophomores Wesley Payne and Isaiah Birkel along with Thomas Warren and redshirt-freshman Paul Davis have propelled the Aztecs’ defense.

Payne, a top recruit from Mountain Pointe High School in Phoenix, Arizona, has dominated this season by leading the Aztecs with 50 tackles and averaging 12.5 tackles per game.

“Isaiah Birkel, our linebacker, really does a great job with communication, and he knows it. He’s kind of like a coach on the field,” Ryder said. “When guys aren’t lined up right, he does a great job at getting them where they’re supposed to be. Overall, we have a lot of great players on defense.”

Warren, on the other hand, ranks near Payne with 40 total tackles, good enough  to put him at second on the team in total sacks.

Through four games, the Aztecs have scored 231 points. Their opponents have scored 99 points, a difference of 132.

With an attack play during each snap, the coaches have not found much of a need to blitz. This is probably the least amount that we have blitzed this year according to Ryder.

When Pima’s defense blitzes, their goal is to rush after the opposing quarterback and disrupt the attempted play.

“I think by far you have to look at our front, our front three and front four depending on what defense we’re in. It all starts with those guys up front,” Ryder said. “In the secondary, we have a number of guys who are really good back there.”

Ryder is confident in his new players

“We have very few starters back from last year’s defense. In our front, we are totally new,” he said. “We have one linebacker who didn’t start for you last year but is starting for us this year. In secondary, we basically have all four new players. It’s a totally different team than it was last year.”

Ryder, his defensive coaches and players know that in order to be successful, they need to get to the opposing offense early in every game.

The Aztecs have an away game on Saturday where they will play Mesa Community College at 7 p.m.

In the words of Vince Lombardi, “there’s only one way to succeed in anything, and that is to give it everything. I do, and I demand that my players do.”

Pima looks to have best start in program’s history

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.

Pg14-Football 02

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

Pima football signs 42

Pima football signs 42

By WILL WILLCOXSON

Eleven former Pima Community College football players have committed to different four-year universities.

Most notable are defensive lineman Kendall Huey and defensive back Markell Simmons who have committed to play football at the University of Utah. Simmons had four interceptions last season, two of them for touchdowns.

Utah finished with a 9-4 record last season, with a record of  5-4 in the Pacific 12 conference, and ended with a 45-10 victory over the Colorado State Rams on Nov. 29, 2014.

Full List of transfers:

Kendall Huey, DL – University of Utah

Markell Simmons, DB – University of Utah

Baylor Hahn, OL – University of Rhode Island

David Tapia, LB – St. Joseph’s College in Rensselaer, IN (signed)

Tyler Bigot, OL – Northland College in Ashland, WI

Antony Thompson, RB – Briar Cliff University in Sioux City, IA

Cedric Turner, DB – University of Virginia’s College at Wise in Wise, VA

Max Shepherd, DB – McKendree University in Lebanon, IL

Donovan Vance, OL – Quincy University in Quincy, IL

Stockly Session, DB – University of Virginia’s College at Wise in Wise, VA

Tommy Romack, LB – University of Virginia’s College at Wise in Wise, VA

Pima signed 42 athletes to the football team for the 2015 season. Twenty-six of the new signees are from Arizona.

Eleven of the signees come from Hawaii, and one came from Guam.

“Our class is deep and tremendous. Coach Linden did an outstanding job,” Pima head coach Jim Monaco said.

“We feel really confident especially at the secondary and linebacker positions and how we can develop our defensive line. It’s exciting on paper and hopefully we do Pima Community College proud.”

FOOTBALL: Season ends with three wins

FOOTBALL: Season ends with three wins

By BETO HOYOS

The Pima Community College football team finished in sixth place in the final tournament standings and ended the season with a 3-8 overall record.

“Sure it was a tough season but like I’ve said before, there’s no need for pity,” head coach Jim Monaco said.

On a brighter note to the end of the season, Monaco was selected to coach a team Dec. 5 in the Hilo Senior Bowl in Hawaii. Pima defensive coordinator Pat Ryden will join Monaco on the coaching staff.

The Hilo bowl game gathers top players from all of the Pacific islands, including American Samoa and Pago Pago.

“I’m honored to have been asked,” Monaco said. “I really believe it will be a big boost to our recruiting.”

The Aztecs dropped their final game of the 2014 season on Nov. 8 to Mesa Community College 34-17 in the final round of the WSFL consolation bracket.

Sophomore defensive back Max Shepherd had a 99-yard interception return, while sophomore running back Ben Gardner scored a touchdown on a two yard run. Sophomore kicker Tanner Fanning hit a field goal.

Shepherd received the final TEP Aztec Power Player of the week selection for the season. He had four tackles in addition to the interception return.

Pima won in thrilling fashion on Nov. 1, defeating No. 5 Eastern Arizona College 21-20 in double overtime.

The No. 8 seeded Aztecs fell behind early and found themselves down 14-6 at halftime. In the second half, they rallied to force overtime.

Fanning kept the Aztecs in the game with two first-half field goals. Freshman running back Deontay Townsend had a rushing touchdown and sophomore wide receiver Angel Holmes scored a touchdown reception in the second half.

Freshman Cameron Bean secured Pima’s win when he blocked Eastern Arizona’s field goal in the second overtime.

Sophomore linebacker Thomas Romack had 17 tackles (10 solo, seven assisted) and one tackle for a loss of four yards. He was selected TEP Aztec Power Player for the week.

Sophomore running back Antony Thompson heads to the end zone. (Photo courtesy of PCC)

Sophomore running back Antony Thompson heads to the end zone. (Photo courtesy of PCC)

FOOTBALL: Aztecs win semifinal round in double overtime

FOOTBALL: Aztecs win semifinal round in double overtime

Compiled from a press release

The Pima Community College football team (3-7) defeated No. 5 Eastern Arizona College 21-20 in double overtime on Nov. 1 in Thatcher in the semifinal round of the WSFL consolation bracket.

The No. 8 seeded Aztecs trailed 14-6 at halftime and rallied to force overtime. Freshman Cameron Bean had the play of the night, blocking Eastern Arizona’s field goal in the second overtime to secure the win for the Aztecs.

Sophomore Tanner Fanning hit two first-half field goals. Freshman Deontay Townsend had a rushing touchdown and sophomore Angel Holmes had a touchdown reception in the second half.

The Aztecs will play at No. 6 Mesa Community College in the consolation bracket final round on Nov. 8. Game time is to be announced.

————————————————————————

By BETO HOYOS

The No. 8 seeded Pima Community College football team picked up a 27-10 victory on Oct. 25 against No. 9 Phoenix College in the quarterfinal round of the WSFL consolation bracket.

The Aztecs will play the semifinal round at No. 5 Eastern Arizona College in Thatcher on Nov. 1 at 7 p.m.

Pima beat Phoenix College for its only win of the regular season, and had their number again in the playoffs.

PCC fell behind 10-6 in the first half, but broke the game open in the second half, scoring the final 21 points of the game.

Freshman quarterback Kian Homme threw his first touchdown pass in the third quarter to freshman Jason Luna for a 60-yard find.

After tough defense forced Phoenix College to punt, Homme went back to work. He found Matthew Robertson on a 45-yard pass that set up a 16-yard touchdown pass to DeQuavan Brooks.

With 2:34 left in the game, Homme again connected with Brooks for a touchdown.

Sophomore kicker/punter Tanner Fanning, who was named TEP Aztec Power Player of the Week on Oct 21, finished with two field goals, one from 38 yards and another from 26 yards.

The Pima defense had eight sacks, with six coming in the second half. Freshman Cameron Bean led the team with four and a half sacks.

In the first half, freshman Ronald Dowdell had two fumble recoveries. Pima held Phoenix College to 19 yards of total offense in the second half.

On Oct. 18, Pima lost to No. 6 Snow College 73-6 in the final game of the regular season.

The Aztecs turned the ball over on their first three possessions, and found themselves down 24-0 in the first quarter.

Freshman Donovan Moore scored Pima’s only goal on an 81-yard quarterback keeper.

Snow College went on to score 49 unanswered points.

Freshman Cameron Bean had a sack in the second quarter and sophomore Stokeley Session had an interception in the fourth quarter for Pima.

Aztec power player of the week Tanner Fanning puts his punts to use

Aztec power player of the week Tanner Fanning prepares to kick a punt. (Photo courtesy of PCC)

Aztecs struggle to find second win

Aztecs struggle to find second win

By BETO HOYOS

The Pima Community College football team (1-6) lost its sixth game of the season on Oct. 11, falling to Glendale Community College 61-28.

“It’s like Dick Tomey says, ‘your character is built in the valley,’ and right now we’re in the Grand Canyon,” head coach Jim Monaco said.

The Aztecs tried to stay close but were down 31-21 at halftime.

Freshman quarterback Kian Homme threw two touchdown passes to freshman Donovan Moore.

Sophomore Rasheed Parks also returned a fumble recovery for a score.

Freshman wide receiver Tristen Foley was named the TEP \Power Player of the Week on Oct. 13. He had 12 receptions for 96 yards and made diving catches during the Glendale game.

The Aztecs made their way down Highway 19 on Oct. 4 to play Scottsdale Community College at Sahuarita High School for a Coaches for Charity event. They lost to the Artichokes 56-20.

“We’re working hard with what we got, and it’s a coaches’ thing also,” Monaco said. “I’ve been pretty tough on my coaches too.”

The Aztecs allowed four touchdowns in the first quarter.

“Those four touchdowns came in four plays,” Monaco said. “It seems to be one thing after another.”

Homme threw two touchdown passes, one to Foley and another to sophomore Matthew Robertson.

With two seconds left, freshman running back Deontay Townsend scored a two-yard rushing touchdown.

Moore was named the TEP Power Player of the Week on Oct. 6 for the second time this season after he lead the team with 11 receptions for 122 yards. He also had three carries for 21 yards and two kick returns for 19 yards.

Moore’s first selection came after Pima’s game at the New Mexico Military Institute on Sept. 6, when he had 11 catches for 98 yards.

Pima will play its final home game of the regular season on Oct. 18.

Despite the losses, individual players have garnered acclaim.

Moore leads the NJCAA in receptions with 62. His 100.1 receiving yards per game top the WSFL conference and is 10th in the NJCAA.

Homme is fourth in the WSFL conference in passing yards with 219.4 per game.

 

On Deck

Oct. 16: Snow College, Kino North, 1 p.m.

Oct. 25: @ football playoffs, round 1, TBA

 

Freshman Stephen Murlow tries to extend his run en route to a first down

Freshman Stephen Murlow tries to extend his run en route to a first down