With a new offensive coordinator with junior college experience in the fold, the Prescott Badgers (2-2) look like a tough out for the Flagstaff Eagles (2-1) in the two squads' Grand Canyon Region opener on Friday in Prescott.
The Badgers hired former Glendale Community College head coach and NJCAA Hall of Famer Joe Kersting to their staff in January and haven't lost a beat offensively since graduating some of their top weapons.
"Those are great coaches by anybody's count that knows anything," Eagles head coach Todd Hanley said. "You can see from film their kids are disciplined, they know what they are doing. They execute. I mean, it's just a matter of going out, matching their execution level and making some plays. That's a good football team, there's no question."
Prescott, which finished 7-3 overall and 5-1 in the region in 2018, needed to find a way to replace production left from graduated quarterback Austin Clark, who rushed for 1,949 yards and had 24 touchdowns on the ground as a senior.
So far the production has come from a different position in the backfield, but still on the ground. For the season Prescott is averaging about 33 points per game -- with the past two outings going for 48 and 46 points in blowout wins.
The Badgers have four players with 16 or more rushing attempts through the team's four games in 2019. The attack is led by running back Sylas Espitia's 225 yards and six touchdowns. Espitia has primarily been Prescott's short-yardage back, averaging 4.5 yards per rush, and is bolstered by Prescott quarterback Dellinger Boyd, who has 221 rushing yards on 30 attempts, going for 7.4 yards per run.
As a passer Boyd is 25 of 69 for 418 yards with four touchdowns and three interceptions.
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Last week, the Eagles dropped their first game of the season 18-7 to Tempe on the road. Luis Jaramillo left the game early with cramps, but is expected to play against Prescott.
The Eagles allowed Tempe running back Jabree Richardson to rush for 149 yards on 6.0 yards per carry. The Eagles struggled at times to contain Tempe through the air, allowing Charles Allison to throw 10 of 17 for 87 yards and two TDs.
Hanley thought the offense struggled to find a groove against Tempe and they just couldn't find a spark to ignite any type of run.
"Offensively, Joe (Weidinger) didn't have a great game, and I didn't have a good game trying to call plays to get us out of it," Hanley said. "Between the two of us we just couldn't get the offense rolling, and that's just on me to try and find that thing to spark us."
On the other end, Hanley was happy about how his defense did against Tempe -- noting that it was put into some tough spots because of offensive turnovers inside Eagles territory. The defense held firm, most notably late in the game when Tempe was looking to put an exclamation point on the win.
"People who weren't at the game didn't see this, and it doesn't have anything to do with the outcome of the game but it helps for the season, that Tempe was driving in the final minute and had a first-and-goal inside the 5," Hanley said. "They were trying to punch it in and we stopped them. ... That shows a lot of character to me as a coach."
Friday's kickoff is set for 7 p.m. at Prescott High School.