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August 22, 2014

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Bonanza halts Sharp in shutout win

Division I prospect was held to 50 yards in Friday’s loss

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As Sierra Vista High running back Akil Sharp warmed up for a homecoming game Friday night, he glanced at a brilliant magenta sunset.

“Beautiful,” he said. “It’s all right.”

It was the last bright spot Sharp saw as Bonanza clamped down on one of the area’s best players in a 21-0 victory that kept the Bengals atop their league.

After blistering Western for 270 yards last week, Sharp was neutralized by Bonanza senior linebackers Stuart Montenegro and Matt Sathrum, and the rest of the Bengals’ defense.

Sharp, who has named USC, UCLA, Stanford, California and Duke as the leaders for his talents next season, was limited to 50 yards on 21 carries.

“To shut down a Division-I prospect was pretty exhilarating,” Montenegro said. “As a unit, we knew we could contain him. We did pretty well. He was getting mad.

“We were doing our assignments and shutting him down.”

On Sierra Vista’s first series, Sathrum caught Sharp at the line-of-scrimmage for no gain on a third-and-20 play to force the Mountain Lions to punt.

“Our whole thing is speed on defense,” Sathrum said. “One guy can’t run through 11 guys. When he was yelling we knew we were getting in his head. The shutout was huge for Bonanza.”

The victory boosted Bonanza to 3-2 overall and tied the Bengals with Bishop Gorman at 2-0 in the Sunset Southwest League. In five weeks, Gorman finishes the regular season at Bonanza.

Bonanza coach Shawn Dupris said he believes his team made a statement against Sierra Vista.

“We didn’t play well offensively, but good teams find a way,” he said. “Defense carried us. That’s a good sign.”

Dupris saw another good sign when he and his staff walked into the Mountain Lions’ stadium and saw quarterback Jeremy Green and receiver Darian Yahyavi wearing jeans.

The two starters were suspended from the game for grade issues.

After the game, in no uncertain terms, Sierra Vista coach Mark Sauve blasted his players about performing in the classroom.

Lions sophomore quarterback Cameron Peterson learned plenty about the speed of the varsity game against Bonanza.

“We couldn’t throw the quick hitches and outs we like to throw to open things up for Akil,” Sauve said. “That’s really where it fell for us tonight. They had nine in the box … that hurt us. It just didn’t happen.”

Bonanza senior Aaron Simon hurt the Lions (2-3, 1-1) on the opening kickoff. It sailed by him, but he zipped back to his own 8-yard line to fetch it. Then he sailed around his left side 92 yards for a touchdown.

Senior running back Antonio Beals capped a 16-play drive with a 2-yard touchdown run around his right side for a 14-0 lead on the first play of the second quarter.

Early in the third quarter, Bonanza senior defensive end Anthony Roberts plopped on a fumble by Peterson in Sierra Vista territory and the Bengals capitalized.

They escaped a third-and-15 play at the 44 when quarterback Sterling Sprau, a sophomore, escaped for 22 yards.

And on a fourth-and-5 at the 17, Sprau lofted a pass to the left that Sierra Vista defensive back Garland Latham tipped and Bonanza receiver Delano Helmuth caught at the 3.

On the next play, Beals was smacked at the line but somehow spun out of it, backtracked and dashed around his left side to squeak into the end zone for a 21-0 advantage.

Sharp said four or five Bengals were always on him. At the end of the first half, Sharp, laid out on the ground, was the only player left on the field.

He said he had taken cheap shots to his head and stomach. He played the entire second half.

“I bounced back fine,” Sharp said. “I felt perfect, great, like the most dominant player on the field. We just have to work harder. Can’t blame anyone; it’s the entire team.”

Montenegro and Sathrum, and the rest of the Bengals, remembered last season.

“They beat us at our homecoming last year,” Montenegro said. “So we came to their homecoming and wanted to put it on them.”

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