In a rematch of last year’s Division VI state championship game, Glendale Joy Christian avoided repeating history by defeating three-time defending champ Joseph City 74-24 in the Division VI quarterfinals.
Both teams traded touchdowns early on as Joseph City (8-2) took a 12-8 lead just a few minutes into the first quarter behind two rushing touchdowns, but they failed to convert either two-point attempt.
Joy Christian (9-0) came right back when junior quarterback Nick Henderson connected with receiver Trevor Deason for a 15-yard touchdown, one of three scores for Deason, who also finished with 149 yards receiving.
After missing the two-point conversion, Joy Christian took a 14-12 lead, one they would never give up.
Following the ensuing kickoff, Joy Christian recovered a fumble in Joseph City territory and Henderson struck with another touchdown pass, this time to Isaiah Goodspeed. Henderson finished with 246 yards on 22-for-24 passing with six touchdowns.
“It was pretty rough,” Henderson said in regards to throwing with the windy conditions. “But I put the ball in a spot where my receivers could get it, and they just snatched it.”
Joseph City committed the second of their two costly fumbles on the ensuing possession, giving Joy Christian good field position once again, and it capitalized with another touchdown and increased the lead to 30-12.
“Our defense is the key to our success this year,” Joy Christian coach Brian Cole said. “We put points on the board, but our defense gives us the ball in great field position and that’s why we have opportunities.”
Right before the half ended, with the score 38-12 in Joy Christian’s favor, it called one of its trick plays called the “McCluster Fluster” and caught Joseph City off guard and making it a 46-12 game.
There was a bit of a commotion on the field heading into the locker rooms as Joseph City coach John Bryant wasn’t happy about the call, given the score, but Cole defended it saying it’s something they’ve always liked to go to after timeouts.
The second half was more of the same as Joy Christian’s offense was practically unstoppable between Henderson’s throwing ability and the two-headed running attack of Godfrey Mudavanhu and Jerardo Sammaripas. Joy Christian only punted once throughout the game and never committed a turnover.
For Joseph City, its season ended for the first time in four years without a final victory. It could not overcome their untimely turnovers and a poor passing game, as Joseph City was only 2-for-16 in the air, though the heavy breeze did not make things any easier.
Senior running back and captain Chance Rush ended his Joseph City career with 82 yards and a touchdown on 11 carries in the loss.
When asked about expectations for next season, Bryant responded, “We don’t have the superstar athletes right now, but we’re going to give it our best shot.”
Joy Christian will play Phoenix Valley Lutheran, which upset Scottsdale Prep Academy, next week in the semifinals. Joy Christian beat Valley Lutheran in a matchup earlier this season.
“I’m really proud of our guys,” Cole said. “They came into this really wanting it bad after last year. They deserve the win, and I’m happy for them.”