Paradise Valley eyeing state title after big win

Paradise Valley eyeing state title after big win


Paradise Valley eyeing state title after big win


azcentral sports high schools

azcentral sports high schools

Paradise Valley might have its sights set on a championship, but its view goes no further than next week’s opponent after opening the Division III playoffs Friday night with a 55-17 win over visiting Tempe.

And the hosts looked every bit the No. 1 seed that they are in moving to 11-0 and “staying in the now,” as head coach Greg Davis said in describing his team’s focus.

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‘We talked about that all week,” he added.

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And it showed. Paradise Valley looked sharp in scoring on its first four touches for a 31-0 lead into the second quarter. Daniel Bridge-Gadd scooted 11 yards for the first score, eluding Tempe’s pass rush as he did most of the night. From there, he added a 33-yard TD pass to A.J. Smith, a 50-yarder to Jim Dragon and even an 88-yarder to speedy Jacob Brown, who took a deflection off of what should’ve been an interception and turned it into six points.

On the night, Bridge-Gadd finished 15 of 26 for a snappy 376 yards and four TDs and scored one himself on the ground. But he was giving eternal thanks to Brown.

“He can do that. He makes me look good,” the senior signal-caller said.

So does Jared Beaman, the so-called team “workhorse,” who finished with a rushing TD and three receptions. Between Brown and Dragon though, they finished with a combined 282 yards on nine receptions, with two TDs.

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But after all that impressive offense, Davis knows, as he said all season, that his defense will be the difference.

They were last night, picking off two passes and holding down a pretty competitive Tempe (6-5) team. Of gutty quarterback Bobby Manning’s 231 yards passing, 80 came on a fourth-quarter TD to Bilal Muhammad with the outcome no longer in doubt.

Miguel Mendoza finished his distinguished Tempe career with 31 yards rushing on 13 carries and three receptions for 45 yards.

“I coach winners,” said coach Brian Walker, whose team rallied back from a 1-4 start to qualify for the playoffs. “We had some possible plays we should’ve made,” he said of the chance to build some early momentum, but, “They’re a good football team,” he said of Paradise Valley. “They’re senior dominant. They made more plays than we did.”

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Especially on defense, which Davis likes. Manny Martinez was dominant in the trenches on defense and Zartman Dorty was all over Manning. Paradise Valley really only surrendered two big plays, both after building nearly a 40-point lead.

Davis has said all along he feels his defense will take the team as far as it goes. “Absolutely, I still feel that way,” he said, noting the team awakened after Cactus Shadows put up 36 on them midway through the season in a close win.

“We had a little lull there on defense, but we came back after that,” he noted.

And now the next team up is in the defense’s crosshairs.

PHOTOS: On the sidelines – High school football 2015


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