Desert Edge coach Rich Wellbrock said before Friday night’s game that Anthony Hernandez isn’t at full capacity in terms of making the right reads, and despite throwing seven first half touchdowns and breaking a state record Friday that was set in 1926, Hernandez still wasn’t perfect in Wellbrock’s eyes.
Wellbrock demands attention to detail on every play and is as animated as any coach you’ll find on the sidelines on Friday nights. He won’t express how he truly feels probably because Wellbrock doesn’t want his kids to become complacent, but he has to be feeling extremely satisfied with the way Hernandez is running his spread offense after five games.
A good game was expected between undefeated teams Desert Edge of Goodyear and Surprise Shadow Ridge, but Friday’s game turned into a rout as Hernandez, Marks and their teammates put on a crowd-pleasing and state record breaking performance for the home fans.
Hernandez, a first-year starter, threw five of his eight touchdown passes in the 63-28 victory over Shadow Ridge to Marks. Seven of Hernandez’s touchdown throws came in the first half, tying a 4A Conference state record for touchdowns in a game that was set in 1926.
Hernandez threw his final and 4A Conference record setting touchdown in the fourth quarter, becoming just the fifth player in the state’s history to throw eight touchdowns in a game. The all-time state record for touchdown passes in a game is nine.
As for Marks, his five touchdown catches tied the 4A Conference state record. Desert Edge is a Division III school, but each school in Arizona is also placed in a conference for administrative purposes, and Desert Edge is in the 4A Conference.
“He (Hernandez) made a couple of weird plays and was off on a couple of reads but was very pleased,” Wellbrock said. “He continues to make plays and get better.”
Hernandez played the entire game, completing 24 of 36 passes for 434 yards.
Hernandez’s back up is a freshman who also is playing for Desert Edge’s freshman team.
(Desert Edge quarterback Anthony Hernandez threw eight touchdown passes, a new 4A record, Friday night. Photo by Jose Garcia/aia365.com)
“I just have to give it up to my o-line and receivers,” said the 5-6, 150-pound Hernandez. “A lot of people say that I can’t do it (be the quarterback), and that I’m too short. But I’m just out here having fun, just doing what I do. I love it.”
After five games, Hernandez has already thrown 25 touchdowns and only two interceptions.
The senior quarterback added that it’s really easy to be the Desert Edge quarterback when you have the weapons that school has. One of those go-to guys is Marks, who either pushed defenders out of the way or juked them out of their shoes as Marks made his way to the end zone.
Marks caught 11 passes for 232 yards, and another Desert Edge weapon, Jordan Jackson, finished with nine catches with 133 yards and two touchdowns.
“I’ve run out of superlatives for Elijah,” Wellbrock said. “He’s sneaky fast and sneaky strong.”