The last thing the Kingman Academy of Learning High School Tigers football squad wanted was to head into the playoffs on a two-game losing streak, but that is exactly what KAOL has to deal contend with after their 36-20 loss to the Phoenix Eagles on Saturday at Southside Park.
It all worked out that way because the Tigers were unable to stop the Eagles' rushing attack. Phoenix rushed for more than 325 yards, and most of those yards were gained via sweeps.
"It was nightmarish," coach Bill Prichard said. "We made some adjustments, but honestly our ends were not doing their jobs correctly."
Rasheem Williams led the ground attack for the Eagles (3-6). He rushed for 165 yards and a touchdown on 15 carries. Williams also fumbled twice.
Quarterback Jonathan Salazar was equally as effective running the ball. Salazar rushed for 147 yards and two touchdowns.
KAOL quarterback Bob Blake carried most of the workload for the Tigers (7-2). Blake had 103 yards and two touchdowns on 20 carries. Blake also lost two fumbles.
Blake was busy throwing the ball, as well. He completed 11 passes on 22 attempts for 128 yards, and he threw one interception. Fullback Matthew Nichols was Blake's favorite target as he caught three passes for 36 yards.
KAOL had a fast start as the Tigers built an early 14-0 lead with less than three minutes to go in the opening quarter. A quick touchdown by the Eagles before the quarter ended, and a turnover by KAOL on its next possession had the game tied at 14-14.
"Our guys throttled it back at 14-0," Prichard said. "They thought it was going to be another 50-point win, and then were unwilling to play as hard as necessary to get the win."
KAOL was stopped on the Eagles' 16-yard line on fourth-and-two when a Blake pass to wide receiver Justin Proudfoot fell incomplete at the 4-yard line.
"Blake was shaken up from his run on the prior play," Prichard said. "He told me if he could have that one back he would have run the ball."
Phoenix then only took four plays to drive the length of the field for a touchdown that was capped by Salazar's 45-yard scoring strike to Williams. The Tigers' secondary was nowhere to be seen on the play as Williams was left all alone in front of the KAOL side line.
"He came out of the backfield and the coverage was busted," Prichard said.
KAOL is the No. 4 seed in the Arizona High School Football Federation's state playoffs. The Tigers will host Avondale Estrella 5 p.m. Saturday at Southside Park. KAOL beat Estrella 55-24 on Sept. 22.