Jim Jones shivered at midfield Friday night on Gilbert Mesquite’s football field after receiving a celebratory water cooler bath from his players.
Mesquite had just finished off rival Gilbert Campo Verde 30-0 for the Division II, Section VI championship.
It capped a 9-1 regular season and a 4-0 section record a year after Mesquite went 2-8.
The last time Jones got drenched by happy players?
“The state championship,” Jones said.
His current players would have been toddlers then.
Jones led Mesa Red Mountain to the 2001 title.
Much has happened since then.
Jones left Red Mountain in 2009. Mesquite moved down from Division I this year. And Campo Verde moved up from Division III.
“In July and August, nobody would have scripted this one,” Campo Verde coach Max Ragsdale said.
Both teams played for the section title before perhaps the biggest crowd in the rivals’ short history.
“This is the school to be at now,” Mesquite senior receiver/safety Juan Giraldo said.
Giraldo was a difference maker Friday.
He caught touchdown passes of 6 and 66 yards and was in on seven tackles and defended four passes.
He also ran for a 2-yard touchdown.
But it was the 66-yarder to start the second half that seemed to take the air out of Campo Verde (8-2, 3-1).
Campo Verde played a press defense. A couple of defenders got sucked in and quarterback Payton Haslam found Giraldo open on a go route on the other side for the score. That gave Mesquite a 23-0 cushion.
The way the defense was playing, flying to the ball carriers, that would be enough.
“We just stuck to out game plan,” Giraldo said. “We hit them, wrap up, and play as one.”
Campo Verde had no answer for Mesquite’s fast physical defense, led also by safety Jordan Robinson and linebacker Jarrod James.
Meanwhile, Mesquite controlled clock with a power game, led by punishing back Paul Perry.
Mesquite opened the game using more than six minutes before Haslam found James in the end zone for a 9-yard touchdown.