Bagdad ends Panthers’ winning streak

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Superior Panthers

  Dating back to last season, the Superior football team entered last Friday’s game at Bagdad riding a 12-game winning streak. Due partially to questionable circumstances, that streak ended following a 48 – 40 defeat in the Panthers’ first road game of the year.

  “I was really disappointed with our lack of execution,” Superior head coach Ryan Palmer said afterwards. “We were faced with a lot of distractions and adversity; however, I take full responsibility for the loss. We weren’t ready mentally to play that game.

  “We beat ourselves with little mistakes that we normally do not make,” he continued. “I told the team that was probably the poorest we have executed in four years, and we still had a chance to win, on the road, against the No. 2 team in the state.”

  Indeed, the Panthers did battle back from three scores down in the fourth quarter to make it a one-score game, with a chance to complete a remarkable comeback on their final possession.
  “We came up just short, but I am so proud of the heart of these young men,” Palmer said. “They had every reason to throw in the towel, but instead they rallied together and almost pulled off an incredible comeback.”

  Quarterback Matthew Cruz completed 16-of-35 passes for 233 yards and three touchdowns, one each to Sammy Lopez, Matthew Diaz-Gonzales and Adam Navarrette, who also scored a rushing touchdown and finished with a team-high 210 all-purpose yards.

  Defensively, the Panthers scored twice, including a pick-six by Gabriel Otero and a fumble recovery by Daniel McConnell, who also had three tackles-for-loss and a sack in the game. Diaz-Gonzales led the team with 10 tackles while Navarrette finished with eight.

  Despite the loss, Palmer believes his team gained some confidence in this game and expects his team to respond accordingly.

  “This game was a wake-up call for us,” he said. “There were flashes of brilliance muddled in with a lot of undisciplined play. 

  “We faced a lot of obstacles, but still found a way to have a chance to win in the end. If we execute and play responsible, assignment football, we have the potential to be as good, or better, than any team in 1A.”

  Up next:  At Arete Prep on Friday, Sept. 13. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.

Andy Luberda (1120 Posts)

Andrew Luberda began writing for Copper Area News Publishers (CANP) in February 2013 after working 15 years in Healthcare Financial Management. Andy covers sports for 11 high schools. His stories are published in Copper Basin News, San Manuel Miner and Superior Sun, in addition to the San Tan Valley Daily PRSS and CopperArea websites. Additionally, he has written human interest stories and business profiles. In May 2012, he earned an AAS in Sports Management at Central Arizona College before graduating with a BS in Communication from Arizona State University in 2014. He and his wife, Kelli, have three sons – AJ, Kyle, and Kade.


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