The Cactus Shadows Falcons look to slow down the Sunnyslope Vikings on Friday night in Cave Creek. The Vikings (5-0) check in at #2 in the first AIA365.com rankings of the season following their best start since 2004.
Sunnyslope has cruised to wins over Washington, Trevor Browne, Copper Canyon, Tolleson and most recently at Betty Fairfax last Friday. The Vikings have outscored their opponents 211-28 and have a terrific shot at running the table. After this week, they face La Joya (3-2), Camelback (0-5), Carl Hayden (1-4) and St. Mary's (1-4). La Joya's only wins came over D-III Youngker, Camelback and Carl Hayden.
Head coach Damon Pieri says "I think the key to our fast start is having a great offseason conditioning program and having a lot of returning players who understand the offensive and defensive schemes that we play."
The Vikings offense is balanced, averaging 192 yards passing and 198 yards rushing per game. Senior quarterback Michael Humphrey, who is coming off a basketball recruiting trip to Notre Dame last weekend, has thrown for 960 yards with seven touchdowns and no interceptions this season. The 6-foot-9 signal caller also has two rushing TD's.
Pieri says "Mike Humphrey's has a better grasp of the offense and his arm strength and accuracy have been much improved."
Tim Fryson leads Sunnyslope in both rushing and receiving. The junior has 63 carries for 662 yards and eight touchdowns to go with 13 catches for 498 yards and four scores. He's averaging 232 all-purpose yards per game.
Cactus Shadows (4-1) is 16th in the AIA365.com rankings. After suffering their first loss of the year 27-24 at Higley on September 20th, the Falcons bounced back with a 40-0 rout of South Mountain last week.
Pieri says "Cactus Shadows on film is a great team, they are very balanced offensively. At times they play smash mouth football, but they have good enough athletes to stretch the field when they throw the ball."
This is the toughest game to date for Cactus Shadows. The Falcons have knocked off Kellis, Willow Canyon, Apollo and South Mountain so far but those teams are a combined 2-and-19 this season. The Falcons next five opponents (Sunnyslope, Notre Dame Prep, Paradise Valley, Chaparral and Arcadia) are 15-and-6 and all have winning records heading into this week.
Head coach Greg Davis says there are several keys to upsetting the second-ranked Vikings. The "defense has to get pressure on their quarterback and stop their inside run game." He added that they must establish their own run game as well as "create scoring opportunities in the special teams game."
On Humphrey, Davis says "he is definitely one of the key players that we need to stop, but there are a lot of other players on that team that are very good as well. We better be ready for their pass game, which I believe we will."
Cactus Shadows has won three straight over Sunnyslope, including a 34-24 victory last year. Kickoff Friday is at 7pm.