GILBERT, Ariz. - The Show Low Cougars outscored the Winslow Bulldogs 68-48 in an amazing offensive shootout at Williams Field High School in the quarterfinals of the Arizona State 3A Conference football playoffs.
The teams both had well over 500 yards of offense and scored an incredible 116 points. Both Rathen Ricedorff of Show Low and Kraig Shirley of Winslow showed why they are rated among the best in the state.
Both were successful in the air and on the ground and played well on defense.
The Cougars scored on their first possession on a nine yard pass from Ricedorff to Justin Nicklaus. Trevor McArthur converted for a 7-0 Show Low lead. The score completed a 56 yard drive.
The next time the Cougars got the ball they drove 70 yards and scored on a 35 yard pass from Ricedorff to Josh Weeks. The key play of that drive was making a fourth and two first down.
Winslow drove to inside the Show Low 10 yard line but the Cougars intercepted a fourth down pass and returned it to near midfield. From there the Cougars drove 66 yards and scored on a one yard toss from Ricedorff to John Peterson that increased the led to 21-0 with most of the second quarter left to play.
The Bulldogs scored on a six yard run by Kraig Shirley with six minutes left in the half after having an apparent touchdown on a pass from Shirley to Bubba Cuellar annulled by a penalty.
The conversion run failed and Show Low led 21-6.
The Cougars took less than a minute to get those points back as Ricedorff hit Weeks on an 80 yard scoring pass. The conversion failed and the lead was 27-6.
The Bulldogs answered with a 70 yard scoring drive of their own with Shirley running the final yard and hitting Aaron Martin for the two point conversion that cut the Show Low lead to 27-14.
Ricedorff ran 25 yards for the next Show Low touchdown and also ran for the two point conversion that gave the Cougars a 35-14 lead which was the score at the intermission.
Amazingly, there was plenty more scoring to come.
The teams were both still running no huddle offenses and piling up impressive yardage when they returned to the field. Wendell Carter scored for Winslow on a one yard run but the conversion pass failed and the lead was 35-20, but the Bulldogs were back in striking distance.
Ricedorff was far from through and hit Weeks on a 46 yard scoring pass for Show Low's next touchdown and the conversion increased the lead to 42-20.
The Bulldogs came back with a nine yard pass from Shirley to Cuellar and a two point conversion pass to James Martinez that cut the lead to 42-28.
Ricedorff got six points back for Show Low on a 32 yard pass to Weeks but the conversion failed and the lead was 48-28. That was the score at the end of the third quarter.
Martinez got his second touchdown for Winslow on a 20 yard run that cut the lead to 48-34. The Bulldogs then recovered an on-side kick only to see the Cougars pick up a fumble and return it 45 yards for a touchdown. The conversion increased the lead to 55-34.
With most of the final period left to play Ricedorff again ran for a score from 11 yards out and the conversion increased the margin to 62-34.
Both teams had tired defenses but the offenses were still piling up the points. Shirley hit Cuellar with a 38 yard scoring pass and Johnnie Woods for the two point conversion that cut the lead to 62-42.
Both teams managed to add one more touchdown with Zack Ward running 12 yards for Show Low that increased the lead to 69-42 and Shirley hitting Martinez on a 48 yard pass for Winslow.
The Cougars will take their 11-1 record to the semi-finals against the Florence Gophers, 35-21 winners over the Round Valley Elks. In the other quarter final games the Blue Ridge Yellowjackets defeated the Fountain Hills Falcons 20-14 in a close game. The Yellowjackets will play the Snowflake Lobos next Saturday. Snowflake pulled out the closest win of the quarterfinals with a 29-28 upset of the Coolidge Bears.
The win meant that three of the four semi-finalists were from the 3A East Region with only the Florence Gophers from the 3A South Region representing another region. The semi-finals will be played at Paradise Valley High School in Phoenix on Saturday.
Winslow finished its season with a fine 9-3 record and a tremendous effort against a top quality team.