Paradise Valley scores big win over Cactus Shadows

Paradise Valley scores big win over Cactus Shadows

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Paradise Valley scores big win over Cactus Shadows

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For teams on the cusp of qualifying for the playoffs, the postseason essentially has begun.

Phoenix Paradise Valley is one of those teams, and it displayed a corresponding sense of urgency on Friday night as its defense clamped down on Cave Creek Cactus Shadows after halftime, propelling Paradise Valley to a 42-16 win.

“For us, this was a playoff game,” Paradise Valley coach Donnie Yantis said. “It was do-or-die and our backs were against the wall.”

Because they had to win, Parasdise Valley went into the locker room at halftime knowing their margin for error was pretty much zero.

Cactus Shadows scored just before halftime on Payton Ringwald’s 1-yard dive into the end zone, cutting Paradise Valley’s lead to 21-16. Ringwald’s touchdown completed a 70-yard drive for Cactus Shadows, in which Cactus Shadows quarterback Bryce Kinsler factored into every play, either throwing a pass or carrying the ball, until he was shaken up on the 1-yard line and left the game, setting up Ringwald’s score.

Paradise Valley (6-3) then missed a field goal with one second to play in the half.

Yantis told the team in the locker room at halftime that they needed to score first and play great defense, and Paradise Valley responded exactly as their coach hoped.

Quarterback Ryan Finley helped Paradise Valley march 79 yards to open the third quarter, and had a 3-yard scoring rush on a fourth-down play to regain the momentum for the host team.

The defense then went to work, keeping Kinsler under control and forcing Cactus Shadows into a punt and two turnovers-on-downs in their only three drives of the second half.

Finley, who went 26-of-38 for 383 yards and three touchdowns, led a dominant offensive attack that helped keep Cactus Shadows off the field and secure the win. Sophomore running back Bailey Thompson chipped in with 157 yards on 20 carries. The offensive line led the way for both the aerial and rushing success.

“It all starts up front. (The line) did a really good job run blocking, and that opens up the pass,” said Finley.

For Cactus Shadows (2-7), it was a tough loss in a game in which it looked like an upset might be possible. Kinsler (17 of 25, 227 yards passing and one touchdown) fell 22 yards shy of setting the state record for career passing yards.

While Cactus Shadows will look toward its final game next week in anticipation of Kinsler setting a state record, Paradise Valley will need a win in order to extend its season into the playoffs.

“We’ll enjoy tonight, and the kids will come back ready to go (for the final game) tomorrow morning,”Yantis said.

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