Photo by Beau Bearden.
KINGMAN – The Kingman Academy High School football team appeared poised for a big win over Lee Williams Friday night in the City Championship. Unfortunately for the Tigers, an unsportsmanlike penalty and turnovers proved costly in a 21-20 loss to the Volunteers.
“It was just bad timing on being undisciplined,” Academy head coach Dan Stroup said of the penalty. “You have to be disciplined the whole game. You never know if it can hurt you. … We fumbled it four times and the ball caromed off a kid for a pick. You’re not going to win very many games turning it over five times, but yet we were within a point. The kids played hard. I’m super proud of them.”
The Tigers (1-2) did show they could compete with Lee Williams though. Academy quarterback Kekoa Makaiwi-Stroup demonstrated that on numerous occasions, finishing 20-for-31 for 258 yards along with one touchdown and one interception. Hayven Potter was his favorite target, as the sophomore racked up 137 yards and a score.
“I have phenomenal receivers who catch everything,” Makaiwi-Stroup said. “I just trust them all.”
Gabe Imus finished with 10 catches for 125 yards, followed by Nate Perea with 25 yards and Stevie Wustig with 20 yards.
“Both teams came to play,” Makaiwi-Stroup said. “Our passing game was on point – exactly how we wanted. If we could just take back those five turnovers. That’s all we had to do.”
While the turnovers were definitely costly, Lee Williams didn’t capitalize on the miscues and only led 7-0 at the half.
The Volunteers increased their advantage to 14-0 in the third quarter, but the Tigers responded right back when Tyler Wheeler scored on a short run to cut the deficit to 14-6.
Mother Nature then struck with 3:57 remaining in the third quarter to delay the game for an hour. The Academy went right back to work as Makaiwi-Stroup found Potter for a 33-yard touchdown and Perea caught a pass for the two-point conversion. Then with 2:04 remaining in the game, Kannon Butler punched it in from a yard out.
The Tigers outscored Lee Williams 14-7 after the delay, but it was the Vols who came out on top.
“It’s a heartbreaker for us,” coach Stroup said. “We’ve been in this position a couple of times – losing by a couple of points. But I’m proud of my kids. They play hard.”
The Academy is back in action Friday at 7 p.m. as it hosts Camp Verde in both team’s 2A Central Region opener.
“We’re ready now to go into the region,” Stroup said. “When you play a 4A team and everyone thinks you’re going to get slaughtered and you come out and do that, I think we have a great ball club. We’re excited to go into the region and form our destiny for the playoffs.”