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Trying to mimic their big brothers in high school who got a huge victory over Tuba City High this past weekend, the Sedona Stingers football team had a big win of their own Saturday, Oct. 18, defeating Cottonwood by the final score of 12-7.

When asked how big this victory was for his Stingers, eight-year-old Michael Ortega wasn’t short on words.

By Brian Bergner Jr.

Larson Newspapers

 

Trying to mimic their big brothers in high school who got a huge victory over Tuba City High this past weekend, the Sedona Stingers football team had a big win of their own Saturday, Oct. 18, defeating Cottonwood by the final score of 12-7.

When asked how big this victory was for his Stingers, eight-year-old Michael Ortega wasn’t short on words.

“Yup, we needed this win bad. We need to keep winning if we want to play in the playoffs. It’s a big change from last year when we didn’t win, but we are going to the playoffs,” Ortega said, taking a breath after all those words he just spat out.

If you laughed at Rick Moranis’ ridiculously big helmet on his character Lord Dark Helmet in “Spaceballs,” watching 8-year-olds play football calls for the same reaction.

It is a natural wonder how these boys and their little bodies stay upright with their helmets seeming to cover most of their upper body, but they do it.

With their coaches behind them — literally, because they actually stand behind them on the field of play — Sedona took it to the Marauders.

The first three quarters of play were a stalemate, with both teams gaining little yardage.

In the first quarter, Cottonwood had the ball first and recorded four first downs on a 53-yard drive, but were stuffed on fourth down at the 17-yard line by a tough Stingers defense.

The Marauders drive took almost the entire first quarter, but with three seconds left, Sedona took over on downs.

Back and forth these two teams went like a pendulum swings. Neither team could find a rhythm except for Ortega and Chase Saczalski who flew all over the field, making almost every tackle on defense.

Kids who weren’t playing found time to sit in the artificial turf at Sedona Red Rock High, playing with the grass and seeming disinterested in what was going on, on the field of play.

When their names were called, however, they sprang to their feet and jumped for joy because they were finally going in.

Shouts of “put your shoulder into it” and “hit someone” came from a crowd of parents in the stands like it was Wall Street, with stocks going up and down and traders yelling at the top of their lungs.

In the second quarter with the score still tied at 0-0, Sedona stood their ground on a fourth and goal play with 1:12 remaining in the half.

The snap was fumbled by Cottonwood and immediately blown dead by attending referees. Sedona players raised their hands high, fighting their shoulder pads for every inch.

Once the final ticks ran off the clock, players retreated to the sidelines for some water and words of advice from their coaches.

Sedona head coach Tod Saczalski had plenty to say to his boys, encouraging them to keep fighting out there.

“Our boys were ready to go. They knew we had to win this game to have a chance at the playoffs,” Saczalski said.

The third quarter was much of the same for both teams, but to begin the fourth quarter, Sedona had a must-stop situation again when it was fourth and goal on the 6-yard line.

Sedona came through with tough defense again and took over on downs on the 20-yard line.

Running back Neil Smith answered the bell for his Stingers and recorded a 13-yard carry on the first play Sedona had.

On the second play, Ortega found a seam and went through it for a 67-yard touchdown run, putting the Stingers up, 6-0.

Minutes later, after Chase Saczalski recovered a fumble, he ran it 16-yards for another touchdown, putting the Stingers up 12-0 with 1:54 to play.

Cottonwood wasn’t done yet, however, as running back Tyler Sessler out ran every Stinger defender for a 70-yard touchdown run of his own, to make it 12-7.

The score seemed to shock Sedona players for only a minute, because when they got the ball back with 1:36 remaining, they ran out the clock with a few run plays and then began

their celebration.

“The fourth quarter was big for us to get those two touchdowns, and we held on in the end,” Chase Saczalski said.

With the victory, Sedona improved their record to 3-3 overall on the season.

Sedona will host the Bagdad Razorbacks on Saturday, Oct. 25, in their final home game of the season at SRRHS.

The last game of the season will be in Camp Verde as the Stingers play the Cowboys on Saturday, Nov. 1.

Both game times are scheduled for noon.

 

Brian Bergner Jr. can be reached at 282-7795, ext. 131, or e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

 


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