Model quarterback Landon Cantrell vs. Sonoraville

Model senior quarterback Landon Cantrell surveys the field during the Blue Devils’ season opener against the Phoenix on Friday at Woodard-Tuggle Stadium. His offense would be shut out by a tough Sonoraville squad.

The Sonoraville Phoenix opened the 2021 season on Friday night with a road game against Region 6-AAA foe Model.

A young Blue Devils squad found themselves outmatched in the opener, as they fell to the visiting Phoenix 21-0.

“Our defense was lights out throughout the night,” Sonoraville Head Coach Denver Pate said after the game. “We were very good up front. Our front three kept them off the ball.”

The game, itself, was evidence of how the conditions were throughout the night for Model – sloppy, but that was in part thanks to a solid defensive performance from the Phoenix.

“Hats off to coach Walraven and our defensive staff for putting together such a good game plan against Model.”

Both teams turned the ball over multiple times and struggled finishing drives. However, it felt like the Phoenix had control of the game from the opening quarter. Sonoraville running back Zach Lyles had a great night, rushing for over 100 yards on only 11 carries.

His two touchdowns in the first half (a 47-yard rushing touchdown and a 72-yard receiving touchdown via a screen pass) sparked the Phoenix’ offense. Sonoraville quarterback Jaxon Pate’s 40-yard touchdown pass to Brant Bryant with 1:35 left in the first half ultimately put the game out of reach.

“We ran the ball extremely hard, as far as throwing the football, we misread a couple,” Pate said. “We’ll go back and we’ll watch this film and get better from it.”

Model’s coach gave Sonoraville’s squad a lot of credit after the game, and said his young team needs some work on their mindset going into next week.

“We played tough (on defense) in spots,” Hunnicutt said. “Being a young team, we can’t have that frontrunner mentality. I think we had a little bit of that. When things went well, we got excited, but when they popped us in the mouth, I think we started pointing fingers. A young football team is going to do that from time to time, but we’re going to get better. In the grand scheme of us getting to game 11, this is just another scrimmage for us. Hats off to Coach (Denver) Pate and Sonoraville. They out-physicalled us tonight.”

Pate, while happy with his team’s win, said his team also needs some work going forward, addressing penalties and mistakes.

“We ran up and down this field, but we brought it back quite a few times, but shot ourselves in the foot with holds and offsides calls,” Pate said. “It’s tough enough to call plays against a good defense, but playing behind the sticks makes it even more tough.”

Pate said his team will work to improve on the win ahead of Sonoraville’s Sept. 3 game on the road at Chattooga.

“We’ve got to do a better job as a coaching staff and that starts with me,” he said. “We’ve got some things to clean up on the PATs,” Pate said. “We’ve got to just make sure we’re right in all three phases of the game.”

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