A Game of Firsts

ACP plays its first varsity football game in history in front of a packed house.

Caroline Whitesel

The clock strikes seven on a Friday night, and many ACP fans are filing into their seats to witness history. The ACP Knights were about to play the first high school football game in its young history. The bleachers were filled to capacity with students showing off their school spirit, parents cheering on their children, and band members ready to play their hearts out. There were plenty of big names in attendance as well, including Dr. Casteel for the coin toss. ACP would win the first coin toss in its history and decided to defer to the second half. That makes ACP 1-0 all-time in the coin toss, for those of you keeping track. The teams lined up for the kickoff and at 7:01 P.M, a new era of ACP Athletics was kicked into high gear.

Caroline Whitesel
This game contained many firsts for the Knights, such as the first completed pass and the first turnover, forced by the ACP defense. However, the first win and first offensive points eluded the Knights in a 53-0 loss at the hands of the Odyssey Institute Minotaurs. First game jitters may have gotten the best of the Knights as shaky defensive play allowed the Minotaurs offense to put up 4 touchdowns on its first 4 drives. But the Knights held their ground after a rough first quarter to hold the Minotaurs offense to only 3 touchdowns the rest of the game.

Odyssey’s game plan became clear in only its first few drives of the game. The coaches determined their offensive attack would consist of a power rushing game that would wear down the opposing defense, followed by a frequent quick paced no-huddle to prevent defensive substitutions. The Minotaurs succeeded, running on all but five of their 57 offensive plays the entire game. Followed by a quick no-huddle, Coach Blueford was forced to use his timeouts to allow his defense some time to rest before taking the field again. The Minotaurs were able to run at will in the first quarter, getting out to a 31-0 lead early. However, the ACP defense held its ground in the final three quarters, only allowing three touchdowns the rest of the game.

On the other hand, ACP ran a spread offense, running most of its plays out of the pistol or shotgun formations. However, dropped passes and low snaps prevented the ACP offense from getting into a consistent offensive rhythm, leading to many 3 and outs as well as many other short drives. The first offensive points in school history will have to wait until next week.

Key Plays

  • On a 3rd down and 15 from their own 22 yard-line, quarterback Mark Chavez unleashed a long pass to receiver Ahlias Jones for 22 yards, giving ACP both its first completed pass and 1st down in school history.
  • Junior RB Habi Ortiz brought energy back to the crowd late in the 1st quarter with the Knights down 31-0 pulling off 2 of the longest runs by the Knights on the night. On a 1st and 10 from the Knights’ 35 yard-line, Ortiz ran for 43 yards, taking advantage of the Minotaurs’ overaggressive defense, down to the Odyssey 12 yard line. On the next play, Ortiz ran to the pylon but fell just short, giving ACP its best scoring chance of the night.
  • The first turnover forced by the Knights came in the second quarter. With the Minotaurs offense driving deep into ACP territory, the center unloaded a low snap that was fumbled by the quarterback and recovered by the ACP defense. This was the first of 3 turnovers forced by the Knights defense who would force another fumble late in the first half and yet another fumble in the fourth quarter.
  • On a 4th and Inches in the third quarter, the Knights defense was able to tackle the running back for a loss and a turnover on downs.
  • With a 1st down and 10 at the Odyssey 47 yard line, Sophomore quarterback Benito Canales was able to force the defense to jump offside not once, but twice, giving ACP a free 1st down at the Odyssey 37 yard line.

Caroline Whitesel

Room for Improvement

  • The defense had trouble wrapping up the Minotaurs running backs and tackling them either in the backfield or on the line of scrimmage. These missed tackles led to many short Minotaurs drives of four or fewer plays that ended with touchdowns.
  • Both the offensive and defensive lines had a rough game. The defensive line was consistently dominated by the Minotaurs offensive line. This combined with missed tackles allowed for the Minotaurs to consistently break off large runs and touchdown drives. The offensive line had troubles at times containing the Minotaurs defensive line. The ACP quarterbacks were constantly under pressure in the pocket and had to scramble away to avoid a sack.
  • There were a few snaps from center that were either low or fumbled by the quarterback. Low snaps to the quarterback squandered the Knights best scoring opportunity of the night early in the 2nd quarter. The Knights had 1st and Goal from the 1 yard-line and 2 low snaps forced the Knights into a field goal attempt. The ball was never kicked, however, as a fake field goal play was on.
  • The Knights offense was not immune to turnovers on Friday night. The Knights were able to avoid turning the ball over in the first half. However, the first 3 drives for the Knights in the second half all ended with turnovers. The first play of the second half was a handoff that was fumbled at the ACP 35 yard-line, giving the Minotaurs excellent field position. The next two turnovers came on overthrown passes by Chavez. The ACP offense is going to have to limit the turnovers the rest of the way while hoping the defense can continue to force turnovers of their own.

This was only the first game of the first season of ACP football, so there is no reason to panic. The Knights likely suffered from first game jitters and were unable to recover from an early deficit. This game should not be taken as an indication of how this season is going to be.

Positive Takeaways

  • The Knights had a better night than the Minotaurs in terms of penalties. In the second half of the game, the Minotaurs saw their penalties pile up, sometimes costing them offensive drives or giving the ACP offense better scoring opportunities.
  • Following a rough first quarter that saw the Minotaurs run all over the ACP defense for four touchdowns in four drives, The ACP defense was able to make adjustments. After the first quarter, the ACP defense was able to slow the Minotaurs rushing attack, allowing only three touchdowns in the final three quarters, forcing 3 turnovers. This team didn’t fold over when they got down early. They continued to fight until the final whistle.


The Minotaurs had a slew of injuries to their team in this game –  first of which came early in the second quarter. K/RB for the Minotaurs D.J. Rowe was injured early in the second quarter following a 1st and 10 play for the Minotaurs. Later in that quarter, Minotaurs quarterback Andrew Caufield was injured following his team’s 1st and 10 play with about 6 minutes left to play in the half. In the third quarter, running back Chris Weaver appeared to have a leg cramp following his 4 yard rush.

ACP fared much better in the injury category. Late in the game, sophomore receiver Jackson Zeller was on the sideline with his pads off and tape wrapped around his rib cage. Other than Mr. Zeller, there were no injuries to speak of for the Knights.

What’s Next?

The Knights next game is on Friday, August 25th at 7:00 P.M. at Andersen Junior High against the Scottsdale Christian Eagles. The Eagles are coming off a 68-0 beatdown of the Glendale Prep Griffins. The Eagles are coming off a 10-3 season in 2016 and a 2015 season that saw them win the section championship after a 9-2 season. The Scottsdale Christian Eagles are an established football program who will present a formidable foe as the Knights search for their first win in school history.

The ACP faithful filled the bleachers on Friday night to cheer on their beloved Knights. The crowd remained involved in the game, cheering on the Knights from start to finish. As the Knights left the field following the final whistle, the crowd gave their team a standing ovation. Game number one is in the books and the focus turns to Scottsdale Christian as the Knights will take on the Eagles in search of their first win in school history.  Caroline Whitesel