Yuma Catholic set for AIA 4A state title game against Canyon Del Oro on Friday.
YUMA, Ariz. (KYMA, KECY) - The last time Yuma Catholic won a state championship they played in Division V. A lot has changed since then, Yuma Catholic has now moved up to class 4A, as one of the smallest schools.
What remains the same, in 2014 the rocks finished the season undefeated. It was the only time in school history they achieved a perfect season. On Friday, the Shamrocks will look to etch their names in history once again against Canyon Del Oro in the AIA 4A State Championship Game.
"They are excited about the challenge ahead," Yuma Catholic head coach Rhett Stallworth said. "Execution has been good. At this stage of the season there is a lot of stuff in. It is about fine tuning and making sure all the little things are working right."
Yuma Catholic has lost in the 3A state championship in two of the past three seasons, but coach Stallworth believes that this years team is different.
"These guys are more of a team," coach Stallworth said. "We don't have as many superstars, per say, but these guys look after each other. These guys come every week. They don't get their feelings hurt. They are not worried about all of their personal agendas and things like that. They are truly worried about trying to get a state championship ring."
There are players, such as running back Tayt Ford, and linebacker Rocky Stallworth, who were around for both of the state runner-up teams. To come out on top now, would be the ultimate reward.
"It would be amazing, a great way to cap off the year," Ford said. "As, a team we've really worked hard for it and I think it would be a great way to end it off. 14-0, a great season overall."
"It would mean everything," Rocky Stallworth said. "Growing up i've seen yuma catholic win some and i've seen them lose some. Freshman year, i saw my brother lose in a heart breaker. And i'd like to take one back for us. It is going to take everything we've got. We can't have errors anywhere. We have to be crisp and perfect."
Despite coming into the playoffs as the number one seed, Yuma Catholic has had their doubters, which includes some media outlets in Phoenix. The disrespect has only fueled their fire. So far this postseason, the Shamrocks have beaten Peoria 40-6, Eastmark 28-13, and most notably Arcadia 42-7.
"It felt great," Rocky Stallworth said. "We talked about it all week. We put the score that they picked on the back of our helmets as a reminder and it really pushed us through that week."
"It felt amazing honestly," Ford said. "We knew they were supposed to be a great team and having the Arizona Republic doubting us both weeks, so going out there and getting a 35-0 and a running clock on them, that felt amazing. Especially in the semi-finals just making a statement."
A win on Friday would result in the fourth state championship for the program and Rhett Stallworth. However, the Rocks will need to knock off perenial 4A power, Canyon Del Oro.
"[Canyon Del Oro is] very big and physical and thats the nuts and bolts of everything," coach Stallworth said. "They are going to do what they do and try and break your spirit. We've got to show up and embrace the fact that it will be the most physical game of the year. And hopefully we can rise to the occasion and out execute them and stay as physical as them."
"I love playing physical football and that is what CDO is going to bring," Ford. "They are going to play smash mouth football and thats what i feel like we have been really good at this year. Our o-line has been amazing at it and i think we are going to thrive in it. So i am really excited for it."
Kick off is scheduled for just after 4 o'clock Friday evening at Mountain America Stadium, Home of the Arizona State Sun Devils.
Chas Messman's game prediction: 31-27 Yuma Catholic.