Goodyear Desert Edge’s Elijah Marks was close to the single-season state record for receiving yardage and quarterback Anthony Hernandez, working in the Avondale Agua Fria red zone, where he was most of the evening, tried unsuccessfully to lob a touchdown pass to Marks, then fired a bullet through Marks’ hands late in the third quarter.
“I didn’t know if I’d get another chance,” said Marks, who caught 12 passes for a season-high 324 yards and three touchdowns in top-ranked Desert Edge’s season-ending 55-16 rout of Agua Fria. “Anthony went to coach and told him to give me another shot.”
Hernandez found his senior receiver on a quick screen to the right and Marks carried it in from 48 yards out for his third touchdown of the game to break the mark of Phoenix Greenway’s Damian Segovia, who had 1,760 receiving yards. Unofficially, Marks is at 1,801 yards.
“He’s just a phenomenal kid and it’s great to see he got the state mark,” Desert Edge coach Rich Wellbrock said. “We didn’t think he’d get a shot at the mark tonight because of the type defense they play.”
The loss might have ended the season for Agua Fria (5-5, 4-2), which entered the game at No. 15 in the Divison III power rankings. Desert Edge (10-0, 6-0) entered the game No. 1.
“We finished 5-5 and that’s disappointing,” Agua Fria coach Tony Cluff said. “We lost by one point to Tolleson. We couldn’t get our offense going against Peoria. Those two games hurt us.”
Unlike a week earlier when Desert Edge started slowly at Buckeye, Desert Edge started out sizzling. Hernandez took only four plays to strike, hitting Marks with a deep lob down the left sideline for a 57-yard TD and a 7-0 lead. He connected on all four his passes for 70 yards on the next drive capped by Roshaun Johnson’s 5-yard TD run and then threw for 74 yards on the following drive capped by Derek Edgin’s 1-yard plunge and a 21-0 lead late in the first quarter.
Agua Fria got on the board early in the second when Hernandez fumbled a snap at the Agua Fria 10 and Marquis Paige picked it up and raced 90 yards down the right sideline to trim the lead to 21-6. Paige finished with 129 rushing yards and added a 28-yard touchdown reception on a hook-and-ladder play in the third quarter.
Hernandez completed a five-play drive with a 32-yard touchdown pass to C.J. Heard early in the second quarter and followed that with a 42-yarder to Marks on the next drive. K.J. Sells then picked off a Steven Medrano pass and returned it 53 yards for a 42-6 Desert Edge lead where it stayed through the half.