Don Ketchum
Former Staff Writer,

Big second half lifts Northwest Christian

November 13, 2010 by Don Ketchum, AZPreps365

By Don Ketchum
In the first half of its Class 2A football quarterfinal game on Saturday night (Nov. 13), top-seeded Phoenix Northwest Christian played with a yawn. The Crusaders were being outhustled by eighth-seeded Phoenix Arizona Lutheran and trailed by a touchdown at intermission.
The second half was a much different story.
Northwest Christian played with a Jahn.
That’s Casey Jahn (pronounced yawn), who rushed for 163 of his 203 yards in the second half, along with three touchdowns, as Northwest Christian rolled to a 42-13 victory at home and earned a spot in the semifinals.
Northwest Christian (10-1) will meet sixth-seeded St. Johns (9-2) in a semifinal game on Saturday (Nov. 20) at Phoenix North Canyon High with a 5 p.m. kickoff. Second-seeded Yuma Catholic (11-1) will meet No. 14 Thatcher (7-5) in the other semifinal at 2 p.m.
For Northwest Christian coach Dave Inness, it will be a homecoming of sorts. He was a long-time defensive coordinator for Brian Cole at North Canyon, which won the Class 5A Division II state title in 2005.
Inness wants to be the man to hold up the trophy, if Northwest Christian should win out the rest of the way.
In the first half, he had to be wondering if he would ever get that chance.
Northwest Christian was stymied by Arizona Lutheran’s tightly wound running game, where the linemen line up close enough to practically touch shoulder pads and there are double-handoffs in the backfield with a lot of misdirection.
“I figured we were going to have to deal with that at some point,’’ Inness said. “I hate that offense. It’s hard to prepare for it. They (Arizona Lutheran) are a good team.’’
It was a quiet locker room at halftime as Northwest Christian trailed, 13-7.
Ben Grams had rushed for 100 yards and a touchdown for Arizona Lutheran (9-3).
“We just said that we are better than this,’’ Inness said in regard to his halftime message.
Northwest Christian’s focus was evident on the first play from scrimmage in the second half, when Jahn, a junior, broke free for a 13-yard run.
On the second play from scrimmage, he broke it open for a 32-yard touchdown run. When the Crusaders got the ball back, he scored on his next carry, this time from 48 yards out, and the momentum was back on their side.
The defense stepped up and held Grams to 25 yards in the second half. Alfred Erives rushed for 110 of his 178 yards in the second half, 63 on one run. Arizona Lutheran did not complete a pass in the second half (six attempts) and suffered two interceptions.
Things were going so well for the Northwest Christian offense that quarterback Orbi Gonzales completed a pass to himself – after an opposing defender tipped it – for a one-yard loss.
Jahn scored on a six-yard run with 3:44 left in the third quarter to make it 28-13.
Northwest Christian scored two more times in the fourth quarter, within a span of 22 seconds, to put even more distance between itself and its opponent.
Issac Vogt rushed for his second touchdown of the game, this one from 18 yards, and Trevor Osborne scored on a 31-yard interception return.
“We felt we could get our offense going in the second half,’’ Inness said.
Jahn said the offensive line began opening big holes, which made it easier for him.
“I’m the type of runner where I’m shaky sometimes in the first quarter, then I get going and start getting better,’’ he said.
“We’re looking forward to the next game. I don’t think we’ve ever been to the semis before.’’