During a season in which the Grand Canyon Region has been a mixed bag, with upstart No. 11 Coconino pacing the way at 6-0 overall and perennial contender Mingus Union buried at 0-7 at the bottom of the 4A Conference, the No. 28 Flagstaff Eagles are back near the middle.
Flagstaff (3-3, 1-2 Grand Canyon) just snapped a three-game losing skid with a 20-0 home win over Bradshaw Mountain, giving the team a chance to get its season going with some of that momentum it started with.
The Eagles took a different approach offensively against the Bears, focusing on the ground game and having multiple options in the backfield flanking quarterback Joe Weidinger. Flagstaff ran the ball a season-high 40 times Friday, hitting 226 total yards on the ground -- the second-highest mark of the season. Weidinger only attempted seven passes, but completed five of them for 92 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions.
Although the interceptions were a blemish on the victory, with one coming at the Bears 1-yard line on a roll-out pass on third down, Weidinger made good on his chances in the different scheme. His lone touchdown of the day was a 24-yard pass to Ryan Tagle to cap off a quick three-play drive.
Despite the change to a more run-centered offense, Weidinger doesn't seem discouraged.
"I haven't noticed any change," Eagles head coach Todd Hanley said. "I think Joe wants to win just as much as the rest of us. ... I've put a lot on him. It's a whole new system and I think he does very well all things considered. He's our guy, and if we got to throw it, I'm confident."
Weidinger has thrown six interceptions to four TDs this season, but Hanley has little doubts when it comes to his QB's arm.
"If you look at the situations where Joe is throwing an interception, they're usually in situations where we're leading in the game and we're feeling good about what our defense is doing. So we want to try and take that shot -- that's just how our defense is built. He's completed a lot of pretty nice long ones. Kinda like the Reggie Jackson scenario, he's gonna hit a home run or strike out."
While the offense improved, the Flagstaff defense, which has been strong all season, played possibly its best game of the year. Flagstaff held the Bears scoreless for the first time since 2012.
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Flagstaff held Bradshaw quarterbacks Josh Grant and Moises Hernandez to a combined 5-of 22-passing while picking off one throw.
Flagstaff hits the road this week to face No. 21 Lee Williams (3-2, 1-1 Grand Canyon) in Kingman.
The Volunteers have already matched their 2018 season total for wins, and are one win off their highest total since 2016. The Volunteers have just one victory over a 4A team this season, a 42-27 victory over winless Mingus Union last week.
The Volunteers have used a run-by-committee approach on the ground this year with three players carrying the ball more than 40 times each -- paced by Wesley Boyd’s four touchdowns and 489 yards on 62 carries.
Boyd has averaged 7.9 yards per rush, with his team going for 6.3 yards on average per carry. The Volunteers have been mediocre through the air, with two players throwing over 30 times so far.
Levi Beckham leads the category with 41 passing attempts, completing just 23 while throwing two touchdowns and two picks, but hasn't played since tossing a single pass against Bradshaw two weeks ago.
Devean Santos played the past two games under center for the Volunteers, throwing five interceptions to the Bears and one to the Marauders last week.
Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. in Kingman.