Friday, Oct. 8, 2010 | 11:32 p.m.
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Las Vegas Sun reporters Case Keefer and Ray Brewer talk about finding more competitive games for several struggling programs in the 4A classification — like in the 3A. Oh, Gorman and Palo are still the cream of the crop.
Cimarron-Memorial High rallied from a 14-point first-quarter deficit to defeat Centennial 27-17 Friday.
The Spartans improved to 3-3 on the season while the Bulldogs fell to 4-3. The Spartans also gained a key victory in the Sunset Northwest Division.
“Pretty much, this puts us in position where we can still control our destiny for a playoff spot,” Spartans coach Rod Vollan said. “Any win in league play is huge.”
“Centennial was 4-2 and they were ranked in the city,” Vollan said. “The only two teams that had beaten them were Palo and Arbor View, who are both undefeated. So not only is it a big division win, it’s a big division win against a quality ball club.”
The Bulldogs jumped out to an early 14-0 lead after scoring touchdowns on each of their first two possessions. Both touchdowns came after the Centennial defense held the Spartans’ offense to three-and-outs.
Cimarron-Memorial running back Taz Taoipu answered the Bulldogs’ second touchdown with a 64-yard touchdown run to pull the Spartans within a touchdown at 14-7.
“Taz is a real talented kid,” Vollan said. “He’s a sophomore and he’s playing his first year of varsity football. We’ve had some young guys that really had to step up and make big plays against a good ball club, and to their credit, they stepped up and made big plays.”
Spartans quarterback Gerard Martinez Jr. completed 10 of 13 passes for 152 yards and three touchdowns, including a key touchdown pass to Quinton Alexander with less than a minute to go before halftime.
“Last week, he played to the high expectations we have of him, and tonight, he was even better,” Vollan said. “He was on target, made good decisions and checked us into good formations. All the things that we expected.”
“The reality is, he hadn’t played football in two years,” Vollan said. “Now he’s got his rust off. We’re getting some blocking for him, which helps, and the guy can make plays.”
Martinez hit Taoipu for a 19-yard touchdown on a screen pass early in the fourth quarter to give the Spartans a 27-17 lead. The touchdown capped a 27-3 scoring run for the Spartans.
Cimarron-Memorial cornerback Christian Brown iced the game with an interception of Centennial quarterback Cody Clark with three minutes left in the fourth quarter.
The Spartans picked up a first down on a Martinez quarterback sneak on their final possession and were able to kill the clock to pick up the league victory.
“I think the win gives us new life after the two-game losing streak,” Martinez said. “We just have to get better in practice, and the intensity in practice will help us.”
Cimarron-Memorial faces another tough test in league play next Friday as the team travels to take on Arbor View.