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Not clowning around!

Yuma Catholic stuns top seed ALA - Gilbert North 31-26 in Class 3A semi-final

GILBERT, Ariz. ( KYMA, KECY-TV ) - Saturday showcased a prep football rematch for the Yuma Catholic Shamrocks and the ALA - Gilbert North Eagles. The Eagles handed Yuma Catholic it's only loss of the season 28-25 on September 17th. The Eagles also entered the contest ranked ranked #1 in class 3A.

Leading up to the game, the storyline played out like a Karate Kid movie, the Eagles playing the role of the brash and overly confident Cobra Kai. During a local sports talk show on twitter, ALA - Gilbert North QB Adam Damante referred to Yuma Catholic as 'clowns'. Sophomore WR Brandon Phelps oozed confidence during an Eagles Sports Network interview hosted by Head Coach Randy Ricedorff.

"I have full confidence going into this game that I'm going to have 100 yards or more and two touchdowns," Phelps said. "If they're going to double me then that's their fault, we'll just find someone else."

Yuma Catholic took the Myagi-Do approach by not responding or adding any bulletin board material. The Shamrocks had a great week of practice according to head coach Rhett Stallworth.

"I see it as an opportunity," Stallworth said before the game. "We talked to our kids about it. They're {ALA} in rockstar mode and their coaches obviously allow that kind of stuff and that's great. It keeps them distracted and we're focused on what's at hand and wht we need to do. If we get caught up in stuff like that, we're no better than they are when it comes to that."

The Shamrocks played the role of ringmaster from the very beginning. On the opening drive, Yuma Catholic drove down the field in seven plays covering 80 yards, capped off with Richard Stallworth finding Mario Martinez in the back of the endzone for a six yard touchdown strike.

ALA looked to answer but the Shamrocks defense would stand firm. On fourth and 4 inside the Yuma Catholic 10 yard line, the Eagles elected to go for it rather than trying to kick a field goal. QB Adam Damante rolled to his right and was stopped by the Shamrocks Lorenzo Duran, Jarred Marquez and Dezmend Esquivel.

On Yuma Catholic's next possession, Stallworth was intercepted by Boston Morries. ALA would make the most on the extra opportunity with Damante finding Johnny Bellino for a touchdown. The extra point would be blocked by Yuma Catholic's Mario Martinez.

Yuma Catholic led at the half 14-12. The Shamrocks would score the first touchdown in the second half on a one yard run by Richard Stallworth to make the score 21-12. The game would continue to switch momentum back and forth with ALA never being able to catch Yuma Catholic. The Shamrocks turned to the run game and relied heavily on senior runningback Devon Black, chewing away the clock and keeping the ball away from the Eagle offense.

"Devon Black ran his butt off," Shamrocks head coach Rhett Stallworth said. "He kind of looked like the Black of old before he broke his femur and the defense came up huge all night."

Leading 28-19 in the fourth quarter, Yuma Catholic's defense again rose to the occasion as junior Jarred Marquez intercepted Adam Damante near midfield. The Shamrocks continue to run with Black and run time off the clock. The drive ended with a 25 yard field goal from Logan Rush with 4:11 left in regulation. Yuma Catholic extended its lead to 31-19.

"They did some things that were going to allow us to run," Stallworth said. "they were trying to take a few things away and we'd be beating our heads into the wall if we decided to keep on that route so, we were able to run the ball and the offensive line came up big."

The Eagles quickly scored to trim the lead to 31-26. Yuma Catholic would never give the ball back. The Shamrocks led the entire night and now find themselves back in the state title game for the second year in a row against defending champion Snowflake.

"The O-Line and the defense were the heroes of the night," Stallworth said. "They played their butts off, they did a great job and we are thankful for them."

Devon Black finished the night with 29 carries for 186 yards and a score.

Devon Black powers Yuma Catholic to state championship game

"People really don't think we can run the ball," Senior quarterback Richard Stallworth said. "Tonight we had to show them that we can and relieve the air attack. They thought we were going to throw the whole game. Hey, our lineman and our back did an amazing job."

Stallworth finished 21-33 for 273 yards and completed his passes to seven different receivers with two touchdown passes to go along with two interceptions. He also had a one yard touchdown run.

"Defense played lights out," Richard Stallworth said. "Although there are some points on the board, they made stops when we needed it, they made big turnovers when we needed it. I think they had three goal line stops. They did great tonight."

Stallworth and Yuma Catholic now get a second chance at the Snowflake Lobos. Stallworth hopes it's a different outcome this year as he was injured early in the game in a 38-14 loss in the 3A title game.

"I didn't get to play much last time but now I'm here to play and I'm excited," Stallworth said.

Yuma Catholic will look to claim it's fourth state title in program history, all under the guidance of Rhett Stallworth. With a balanced attack and the resurgence of the run game, the Shamrocks will look to control the game and the clock in hopes of keeping the game close.

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Scott Gross

Scott Gross joins the KYMA team as the CBS 13 sports director and weather forecaster. Scott comes to the Desert Southwest all the way from Alaska where he covered the military and education beats for KTVA-TV & KTUU-TV.

Contact him at scott.gross@kecytv.com.

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