Luke Pineda looked every bit a three-year starter Friday night as he carved up Thunderbird with his arm and legs.
Campo Verde's senior quarterback tossed three first-half touchdown passes and the fledgling Coyotes defense was solid again as Campo stopped Thunderbird, 37-13, in Campo Verde's home opener.
Campo Verde improved to 3-0 for the first time in its short five-year history. Pineda was superb from the first snap. He completed 16 of 20 passes for 238 yards — 209 of those yards in the first half. Pineda added 91 yards rushing either on designed runs, options or scrambles.
“Luke is phenomonal,” Camp Verde coach Max Ragsdale said. “He makes everything go for us.”
After easy triumphs over Goldwater and Catalina that didn't test Campo Verde, the Coyotes were eager to mathcup with Thunderbird, a Division III power in recent seasons. Pineda completed 4 of 4 passes on an opening drive that ate up 80 yards over 10 plays. Pineda capped it with a 35-yard TD pass to Alex Madrid with 7:16 left in the first period. Austin Wells extra point made it 7-0.
The second period became Campo Verde's moment of truth as it protected that 7-0 lead. Thunderbird jarred Campo Verde with a 57-yard TD strike from its senior quarterback Jake Glatting to speedy wide out Adam Turner. Glatting's pass split two defenders and hit Turner in stride to knot the score at 7 with 11:08 left in the second.
Campo was challenged to respond for the first time in 2013 and did so post haste (three-minute drive). Pineda marched Campo Verde 69 yards in seven plays, capping it with a 19-yard TD pass to Jordan Fickas for a 14-7 lead.
The defense forged a stop and got the ball back quickly. Campo Verde drove 80 yards in eight plays on its next possession with Pineda hitting Fickas again for six points on a 27-yard hook-up. Campo Verde took a 21-7 lead to the half and was not challenged in the second half.
“The drive after their touchdown, that was huge,” Ragsdale said. “That got us momentum and it easily could have ended up going their way.”
Campo Verde scored the first nine points of the second half to push its lead to 30-7. A 36-yard field goal by Wells and a 55-yard interception return by Matt Conrad late in the third period closed out Thunderbird (0-2).
Pineda praised Campo's game plan and was happy to get the team's passing attack in motion after the Coyotes went easy on their first two opponents.
“We watched film and were able to find some bubbles (coverage),” Pineda said. “The line did a great job and so did our receivers finding the space.”
Ragsdale also was glad to see how what he perceives as a team strength work. Campo Verde had five receivers catch at least one pass. Fickas finished with seven catches for 102 yards and Madrid added five catches for 73 yards to lead the way.
“We have some talented guys as receivers,” Ragsdale said. “We're going to like throwing it around a bit.”
Thunderbird's Glatting was 16 for 23 for 250 yards and two touchdowns and was intercepted twice. Glatting left the game late in the final period with a left leg injury. Turner caught seven passes for 146 yards and the first-half TD.