FLAGSTAFF — Two years ago, Hunter McShanag was more comfortable on the track and Kyle Shipp was almost turned into a lineman.
Together on Friday, they helped key Phoenix Northwest Christian’s 21-7 Division V football championship victory over Morenci at NAU’s Walkup Skydome.
McShanag ran for 129 yards on 19 carries and Shipp passed for 99 yards and two touchdowns and ran for 30 yards.
“When I got here, I almost moved Kyle to center,” said coach Dave Inness, who has won two state titles and has a runnerup finish in his three years as Northwest Christian’s coach. “He was just a big, goofy kid. But I’ll tell you, he’s going to play for someone (in college). He’s a horse. And he runs well.”
McShanag keyed Northwest Christian’s third scoring drive with runs of 10 and 19 yards that was capped by James Mosbrucker’s 1-yard run with 9:22 left.
“Not bad for a kid who two years ago couldn’t get out of bounds fast enough,” Inness said. “He’s a track kid that we made into a football player.”
While McShanag and Shipp helped the offense, the defense carried Northwest Christian (13-1) to the title.
It stuffed Morenci’s vaunted run, forcing it to pass with quarterback Emilio Duran battling a pinched nerve in his back.
Morenci (13-1), which averaged more than 300 rushing yards, was held to 94 rushing yards on 38 carries. Duran was 9 of 21 for 73 yards and an interception. Morenci’s longest play from scrimmage was 12 yards. McShanag’s longest was 34 yards.
Mosbrucker, who missed three games late in the season with a sprained knee, returned Duran’s interception from his 7 to the Morenci 40 with 4:37 left to ice it.
“Our defense just owned them,” Mosbrucker said. “We saw in the stats that they don’t throw for a lot of yards. We tried to stop their run to make them throw it. Our secondary is great.”
Senior strong safety/receiver Trevor Osborne, playing despite an injured collarbone, caught a 6-yard touchdown pass with 6:43 left in the first half that broke a 7-7 tie. He also helped shut down Morenci’s offense.
“We did it, we finished,” said Osborne, who was on the losing side of last year’s final against Yuma Catholic. “That’s what we wanted to do. It’s a great way to end it for our seniors.”
Morenci coach Frank Ogas Sr., was gracious in defeat, thanking the fans, the miners back home, the alumni.
Morenci was trying to capture its first state title since 1976.
Inness has started what is looking like a juggernaut in just three years.