Kingman football title, Round 2: Lee Williams and Kingman Academy
After loss to River Valley, Academy's Tigers are believers
KINGMAN - Round 2 of the first-ever city football championship between Lee Williams and Kingman Academy takes place at 7 p.m. today at Kingman High School. Academy is playing host to the Volunteers.
"I'm excited to have the big game and, hopefully, have a big crowd," said KAHS football coach Dan Stroup. "We want football to be a big-time thing in Kingman, so we'll make every effort to play these (city) games at the other facilities."
Kingman plays at Lake Havasu this evening, which left the field available. Academy normally plays its home games at Southside Park where seating is more limited.
"We're guessing they are going to have a big crowd and we can accommodate them," said KHS athletic director John Venenga. "The bottom line is that they are all Kingman kids. If they want to use our facility and it's available, by golly, that's what we're going to do."
Academy (0-6 Division IV, 0-3 Section III) comes into the game with belief despite being blanked by River Valley last week, 40-0. The Tigers trailed the defending state champions 19-0 at the half, and they had the opportunity to make it 13-7. However, Academy fumbled the ball late in the second quarter at the Dust Devil 30-yard line and River Valley converted for another score.
"We did a good job against River Valley," Stroup said. "The kids saw that they can compete. Though we were down 19-0, they were jacked seeing they can play with people."
It's that excitement the Tigers are taking the field with tonight. Lee Williams (1-5, 1-2) holds the all-time edge against the Academy at 2-0, including a thrilling overtime win at the end of last season. The Tigers are ready for their turn in the winner's circle.
"If we can't get up for this game, then we don't have a heart in our body," Stroup said. "We're working hard, and we know it's going to be a knock-down, drag-out fight. We anticipate the game will come down to the end."
When necessary, expect the Academy to rely on the foot of senior punter/kicker Tristen Pitts to flip the field. Pitts is the No. 1 punter in all of Arizona and is No. 7 in the country. He's averaging 43.8 yards per punt on 25 punts for 1,095 yards. He's also dropped 10 of those inside the 20.
Lee Williams runs the ball about three times for every pass play it attempts, and the Tigers, with only two seniors, will have to keep themselves in check should the Vols do some damage.
"Our defense has to be continuous," Stroup said. "If they get a big play, we have to get right back into the game. Teams make good plays and bad plays. It's about us overcoming our emotions."
A Lee Williams win clinches the city championship for the Vols after they beat Kingman last week, 42-20. Academy plays Kingman next week.
"This should be an exciting game with the kids on both sides playing hard," Stroup said. "We're coaching them to not have let downs no matter what happens."