Photo by Beau Bearden.
KINGMAN – It’s been a similar story for the Kingman Academy football team during its season openers against Bourgade Catholic at the NAU Skydome. The Tigers jump out to an early lead, but misfortune strikes and they lose a heartbreaker.
That happened once again Friday afternoon as Kingman Academy dropped a 28-20 loss after starting quarterback starting quarterback Kekoa Makaiwi-Stroup exited the game due to cramps.
“Losing our quarterback was huge,” Tigers head coach Dan Stroup said. “You go from a senior that’s accurate to a sophomore that’s learning. Dallas Edwards did a very good job. It’s just different, he doesn’t see the field as well and it gave them confidence.”
Even Bourgade Catholic head coach Marcel Lopez told Stroup that the loss of his starting quarterback was the difference-maker after he left the game in the third quarter. Nevertheless, Stroup wasn’t focused on that fact.
“No excuses,” he said. “The next guy up has to do it. We have to learn to help him out. There’s a couple of things that we didn’t do execution-wise.”
The Tigers also dealt with touchdowns being called back and offensive miscues.
“We had three interceptions and a fumble,” Stroup said. “... It was a little bad on ball security on both teams.”
The Academy did jump out to a great start though, scoring two touchdowns in the first four minutes. Defensively, the Tigers also shut down Bourgade Catholic to take a 14-0 lead at halftime.
“We really limited them in the first half, they couldn’t really do anything offensively,” Stroup said. “Then all of a sudden we threw a pick starting in the third quarter.”
Bourgade Catholic capitalized on the momentum from there, outscoring the Academy 28-6 in the second half. The Tigers still had some positive numbers on offense and defense.
Stevie Wusstig finished with eight carries for 135 yards, highlighted by an 86-yard touchdown run. Gabe Imus caught five passes for 56 yards and a touchdown, while Tyler Wheeler carried the ball eight times for 40 yards and caught a screen pass for a 16-yard score.
Other top performers included Makaiwi-Stroup, who went 11-for-22 for 175 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions. Hayven Potter accounted for 79 of those yards on four catches.
Wheeler finished with a team-high 12 tackles (10 solo, two assists) on defense, while Trevor Lowry added 10 stops (eight solo, two assists).
Makaiwi-Stroup, Tyler Balluff, Jacob Kidd and Nate Carter also each tallied an interception.
The Tigers (0-1) return to the field Friday for a 7 p.m. contest at Kingman High.
“We just move on and instead of 10-0, we’re going to be 9-1,” Stroup said. “We’re going to prepare to correctly and get after it. We’re going to try and go 1-0 against Kingman – that’s our motto. We don’t look ahead, we don’t care about Lee Williams, Parker or anyone else.”