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Cactus whitewashes Moon Valley to open season

GLENDALE — Last season, Larry Fetkenhier’s Cactus Cobras opened their campaign with a 53-0 rout over Moon Valley.

In this year’s season opener, many of the principles were new, including Moon Valley head coach Sam Jacobs, but the results were very similar.

Junior quarterback Talal Yousufzai threw two touchdown passes to Alex Armbrust and running backs Jaylon James and Austin Marshall scored twice each as Cactus routed Moon Valley 62-0.

The Cobras, last year’s Division III runners-up, scored on their first five possessions and got a 95-yard interception return from junior defensive back Malik Diggs in building a 41-0 halftime lead.

The carnage continued in the second half as James sprinted 95 yards with the opening kickoff to stretch the Cactus lead to 48 points.

If things weren’t bad enough for Moon Valley, they got bit by the injury bug too. Receiver Manuel Luque, who had three catches for 70 yards, left the game in the 2nd quarter with a right ankle injury and wouldn’t return. Starting quarterback Israel Vega left about seven minutes later with a right elbow injury and didn’t return. Backup quarterback sophomore Shannon Burton was also helped off the field after the game with an apparent ankle injury.

“It was a good first outing, we had a lot of new people in new places, we had a bunch of different guys score, we scored on a pick, we scored on the special teams,” Fetkenhier said. “Obviously, we’ll look at film, we’ve got things to work on, but everybody got to play, a lot of kids got to touch the ball and for an opener, that’s what you love to have.”

On the flip side, things couldn’t have gone much worse for Jacobs and the Rockets, who are coming off a 4-6 season. Moon Valley quarterbacks threw three interceptions, the special teams yielded a blocked punt and the offense turned it over on downs three times.

After Vega left the game, the Rockets passing game could do nothing, and the Cactus defense keyed on the run, holding senior running back Zac Davis to just 43 yards on 21 carries.

“Cactus is a good football team, they’ll be one of the top in the state, no doubt,” Jacobs said following his debut. “We’re taking baby steps getting back there on top, and we’ve told our players it’s a long season, so game one doesn’t make or break it.”

Cactus hits the road, literally. The Cobras will travel to California to take on defending Division-I champ Bakersfield next weekend.

“Obviously, things get a heck of a lot tougher, but it’s a good start,” Fetkenhier said. “Now we’ve got something to go off on film, and do this and do that and get better.”

Moon Valley travels west to take on the Peoria Panthers next Friday.