A few weeks ago, May River coach Rodney Summers told his players to clear their calendar for Thanksgiving, because they might have plans.
The Sharks ensured they’ll be staying home for the holiday with a 27-7 win over Gilbert on Friday in the second round of the Class 3A playoffs, avenging a lopsided playoff loss two years ago and setting up a battle of unbeatens next week at top-ranked Dillon.
“We’re practicing on Thanksgiving day, and that’s going to be an unbelievable experience these guys have never been through before,” Summers said. “I told these guys they’ll always remember Thanksgiving morning doing a walk-through and then going to spend time with family. It’s limited down to a few teams at that point.”
The Sharks (12-0) had little trouble reserving their seat at the table. After being stopped on their first two offensive series, their offense took control, as quarterback Ahmad Green rushed for 151 yards and three touchdowns on 24 carries, and Brandon Morales added 105 yards and a score on 19 attempts.
“I thought we came out and did what we wanted to do – kind of punch them in the mouth and run our hard-nosed May River football,” Summers said. “And the defense came out and stopped them and created some turnovers. That was huge.”
May River came up with four interceptions — two from Terry Fields, one from Kaleb Foulke, and one from Ridge Dowe — and held the Indians under 200 yards of total offense.
Despite controlling the first half, though, the Sharks led just 14-0 at halftime thanks to the Gilbert defense delivering two big stops deep in its own territory late in the half. The Indians used a long return on the opening kick of the second half to gain favorable field position, which led to Cody Temples’ 4-yard touchdown run, making it 14-7.
The Sharks quickly answered with a scoring drive capped by Green’s 3-yard touchdown run, and they stopped the Indians just short on a fake punt on the next series. The first of Fields’ two interceptions — a spectacular one-handed grab along the sideline — served as the dagger, setting up Morales’ 6-yard touchdown run to make it 27-7 with 6:44 left.
As the final seconds ticked off, May River’s coaching staff reminded the players their season isn’t done and to avoid allowing their emotions to boil over in the handshake line.
“Two years ago we got embarrassed,” Foulke said, referencing a 58-10 loss at Gilbert in the first round of the 2016 playoffs. “It was pretty good to come out here and show them what’s up.”
The Revenge Tour is complete. Now the Sharks are ready for a new challenge, and they get a big one next week, traveling to face a Dillon team that has won state titles five of the past six seasons and played in the title game nine of the past 10 years.
“I look forward to the challenge,” senior center Gabe Long said. “I love playing away. Gilbert was the last team on our Revenge Tour. Now we’re moving on to Dillon. I’m excited to go play a new team and see if the No. 1 team is all about it.”
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