KINGMAN - Freshman quarterback Sean Windecker put aside any doubts about whether he could lead the offense for Kingman Academy High on Saturday when the Tigers manhandled Mesa Heritage 38-14 in the season opener at Southside Park.
Windecker finished the game with a passing rating of 121.62, completing 8 of 23 attempts for 183 yards. He threw for two touchdowns and two 2-point conversions with one interception. Windecker also rushed for 60 yards on six carries, including two touchdowns and a conversion.
"A star is born," Tigers coach Bill Prichard told athletic director Eric Lillis after the game.
It sounded as though Windecker would never forget his first completion of his high school career. Windecker hit wide receiver Justin Proudfoot for a 69-yard touchdown in just his second attempt. "That was the highlight of my night," Windecker said. "I was actually surprised that I could run for two touchdowns against them."
KAHS needed a whole half to get on track. The Tigers held a slim 14-8 lead after the Heroes scored with just three seconds remaining in the first quarter. Both teams went scoreless in the second.
"The difference was we were able to wear them down," Prichard said. "Physically or mentally, we will break them."
Windecker said Prichard gave an inspiring halftime speech to fire up the Tigers. "He told us to get our act together and play as a team," he said. "We finally wore them out."
The tide started turning early in the third quarter when Andrew Pool intercepted for the Tigers. KAHS forced four turnovers and Heritage forced three. KAHS immediately marched down the field and scored on one of Windecker's rushing touchdowns.
At the end of the third, David Jiminez recovered a Heritage fumble that led to Windecker's second touchdown early in the fourth as the Tigers began to put the game out of reach, taking a 30-14 lead.
Danny Sullivan, a senior transfer from Ohio, had a big night as well for the Tigers. Sullivan rushed for 138 yards with two touchdowns. Sullivan coughed up one fumble.
"I may have overlooked them a little," Prichard said. "They gave us all we could handle in the first half."
KAHS had a solid performance from its defense. Heritage found the end zone only twice, and it took big plays to do it. Heritage scored on plays of 45 and 65 yards, and the Heroes finished with 270 yards in total offense. "We're always going to have a strong defense at the start of a season," Prichard said.
The exclamation point for the Tigers came in the game's waning moments. Freshman Mark Williford was a late sub and made a jarring hit on the Heritage quarterback that sent the KAHS bench into a frenzy. "It went by so fast," Williford said. "I just remember moving up and doing my best."
KAHS will try for a 2-0 start to its season at 7 p.m. Saturday against Phoenix Career Success at Southside Park.