After finally getting their elusive first home win of the year last week against Lee Williams, the No. 27 Flagstaff Eagles (3-4, 2-2 Grand Canyon) will be on the road to face No. 6 Seton Catholic (6-1, 2-1 Desert Sky).
Seton Catholic brings a style of offense that Flagstaff hasn’t seen much of this season.
The pass-first team has averaged 37 points per game behind 1,514 total passing yards from quarterback Vincent Wallace and will be the first team the Eagles have faced that has been more passing focused.
“They remind me of the Arizona Rattlers because they run a lot of pass formation,” Eagles co-head coach Bob Castillo said. “Lots of motion. Their offense is probably 80 percent pass.”
“Their claim to fame is as a passing team,” he added.
Although the run-to-pass ratio is closer to 50/50, Castillo’s point is still valid. The Sentinels offense is predicated on a strong spread-passing attack.
The Seton signal caller has been solid in ball control with 15 touchdowns to just five interceptions and two fumbles.
Wallace is also second on the team in rushing yards and rushing TDs with 510 yards gained and six scores -- showing his ability as a dual-threat QB out of the spread. His second-place numbers trail running back Keyshon Upchurch, who has 550 rushing yards and eight scores.
Most of Seton's offensive production has come via the pass -- 1,514 yards through the air compared to 1,289 on the ground. They still will run the ball, as they have 20 total rushing touchdowns, but the main priority for the Eagles is stopping the pass.
“I think in 7-on-7 we did really good against passing teams, but it is different during the season,” Eagles defensive back Michael Becenti said. “I think we’re doing a good job and last week our defensive backfield was good.”
Last week against Lee Williams, the Eagles defense forced four interceptions -- two by Becenti and two by outside linebacker Xavier Sheffield. On the season, the most passing yards the Eagles have allowed is 138 yards to Prescott’s Austin Clark.
Of the Eagles opponents, only Dysart and Lee Williams attempted more than 20 passes, but both completed less than 50 percent of the attempts in what were two wins for the Eagles.
Flagstaff, playing outside of the region this week, is no stranger to facing highly ranked teams, with three games played against teams that are currently in the top 12 of the 4A Conference -- single-digit losses to No. 11 Prescott and No. 2 Glendale, and a blowout loss to No. 4 Bradshaw Mountain.
“I pointed out to the team that where Glendale stands at 7-0, No. 2 in the state, we only lost to them by four points and we could have won that game,” Castillo said. “We can do well against this ranked team if we play that way -- like we’re capable of -- and finish a game.”
The close losses to top-tier opponents hasn’t seemed to faze the Eagles, and Castillo has noticed that and that the team is ready to play spoiler now that their likelihood of making the playoffs is slim.
“With the exception of Bradshaw, we’ve played every team that is in the top 20 tough,” Castillo said. “We’ve got tough games coming up and I told them, ‘You guys can send a message that we’re legit and can make an impact on the playoffs.’”
“We had a lot of goals and some of them are unattainable right now, but we’re ready to beat some teams that are in the top 10, beat teams in our region that are highly rated,” Castillo added.
Including Seton Catholic, the Eagles have three games left on the regular-season schedule and all three are against teams ranked in the top 20, giving the Eagles ample chance to play the role of spoiler.
Kickoff on Friday is set for 7 p.m.