The Saints varsity football team finished the regular season with a strong 9-1 record and the only loss came by one point in double overtime to Horizon.
The team was full of strong athletes, but there were a few that stand out in terms of statistics and importance to the group. Following the Saints’ loss in the semifinals to Campo Verde, senior middle linebacker Brock Locnikar finished with 123 solo tackles and 171 total tackles. First-year quarterback senior Derek Elsholz had a total of 1571 passing yards, with 14 touchdown passes and only four interceptions on the entire season. Junior wide receiver Damien Owens had 604 total receiving yards with an average of 16.8 yards per reception. The other major component of the Saints’ offense was senior running back Dominick Mastro who had 1854 yards rushing and averaged 6.3 yards per rush.
The strengths of this team were shown through their character and attitude as a group and as individuals. Head Coach George Prelock mentioned that “Our greatest strengths this season were the ability to overcome and persevere through certain times when we were down and come back or it was a close game and the ability to respond even when a game didn’t go the way we wanted it to go.”
Prelock also said, “Their response to the next couple of games after these rough games was a test to their character that’s something that you can’t coach and I think that they have done a great job being resilient all year.”
One of the senior middle linebackers, Matt Malloy, said, “Our team has an incredible defense. The most defensive points given up in single game (not including OT scoring, or offensive pick six) has been 21 points. We are ferocious tacklers and have been called the best D in Saints history by” reporters around Phoenix.
The team did not have just one or two strong players; they worked as a team and did not put everything on just one athlete. Everyone did his job and performed to the best of his ability every week. Coach Prelock said, “I don’t really think that there were any star players, but I think we have a great team that allows people to do their job, and when it comes down to it, I think any of the team would be the first to tell you that everyone has a purpose and they’re going to do their job to ensure that the guy next to him has the most success that he can.”
The boys had a great regular season and they did not have many weaknesses, but throughout the season, the team suffered from a rise in penalty yardage against them. Malloy said, “The team lacks weaknesses which is a good thing. If we can cut down on penalties and have our offense be more productive in the passing game, then we can be unstoppable. Hopefully our offense improves overall and works hard while our defense continues to dominate.”
For this season’s 5A playoffs, the Saints are the number two seed, with Williams Field being the number one seed. In the first round of the playoffs, the team beat Verrado 38-28 in a closely-fought game. In the quarterfinals, the boys routed Cienega 45-6. The NDP varsity football team had a great 2019 season. Prelock said, “I’m happy with how we have performed… I think all the boys have worked extremely hard to get where we are and I think we all feel like there is more work to be done. We are going to do everything in our power to make sure we can go as far as we can.”