Football coverage presented by Big O Tires
By Jake Schwab
With the Golden Shovel hanging in the balance, Lake Havasu High School’s Fighting Knights came ready to go to war with the Mohave Valley T-Birds.
After a tough loss to Cibola at the NAU Dome, the Knights got right back into winning shape with a 35-21 win to reclaim the Golden Shovel.
Prior to the start of the game, Lake Havasu High School honored alumni from over the years along with some of the original Fighting Knights. Alumni members from 1969 to the 2010’s were in attendance that included former students, teachers, athletes, cheerleaders and coaches.
Each group from each decade took to the track to be paraded and celebrated by the citizens of Lake Havasu City and went by decade group of alumni going from the 60’s all the way up to the 2010’s. All alumni got to express their times at LHHS to one another as well as reminisce on some of the good old days.
Not long after, the field had been again named after famous coach Lee Barnes, for whom the previous field had also been named. Barnes held the ceremonial scissors that then cut the ribbon to officially declare the new field open. Barnes was joined by Coach Karl Thompson and players from the class of ’69.
With a high-stakes game in play, Lake Havasu City showed up to support the Knights as the bleachers were packed full along with the surrounding fences. Cheers and chants roared throughout the stands, letting the Knights know they have the support of students and alumni alike.
From coming out of the tunnel to the final horn of the game, Lake Havasu High School’s Knights varsity football team dominated on the field. Luck was in favor of the Knights with the coin toss going their way, which led to an impressive touchdown right off the bat by wide receiver Johnny Perez (No. 2).
Other impressive players in the first run was wide-receiver Brace Spencer (No. 10), as he and running-back Jake Allen (No. 7) were what made Perez’s touchdown possible by barraging their way down field. After a perfect point after touchdown by kicker Stuenpfel Moritz (No. 82), the Knights went on to show the booming Havasu crowd what their stellar defense can do.
As soon as Havasu High’s defense took the field, they made it known they weren’t messing around, as stops were made left and right to stick it to Mohave’s offense. Before an average audience member could use the facilities, the ball was already back in the Knights’ possession.
The offense had staggered briefly for the Knights leading to a touchdown by Mohave, but they made sure to have any and all issues resolved by their next possession which came after another monumental defensive bout.
On the defensive end, several Knights, or a “round table” as the announcers dubbed them, assembled to get a quick sack on the quarterback. When Jake Allen switched to defense, he was just as, if not more, prevalent on the field as he recorded multiple stops even causing the T-Birds to lose yards on more than one occasion.
As the game ensued, Allen and wide-receiver Jace Taylor (No. 3) had been on fire helping the Knights gain ground. Another unforgettable moment was a phenomenal catch by wide-receiver Jacob Schafer (No. 1), where he caught the ball, put the defense on skates, and sailed in for the touchdown. The touchdown was accompanied by another solid kick by Moritz, giving the Knights a 14-7 edge.
Triumph had to be put on hold for the Knights, as the T-Birds soared into the end zone for a touchdown accompanied by a PAT to tie the game 14-14. On another offensive run, Allen had put on the moves against Mohave as he piled up the yards left and right.
Shortly after, Perez had breezed past the defense to get the Knights their third touchdown of the night. As usual, the kick was good and the Knights had room to breathe with a 21-14 lead.
The audience, still cheerful and excited, had been looking for the next big moment of the game when linebacker Peyton Luzzi had recovered a fumble by the T-Birds and took the ball from half field all the way to the end zone for another Knights touchdown. An impressive feat nonetheless, the score after another perfect PAT had brought the score to 28-14.
The T-Birds, quick to respond, gained back space on the board as they made it in for another touchdown and PAT, still behind 28-21. Brace Spencer was the Knight to edge out the Birds score-wise with another touchdown and PAT by Moritz to give a 35-21 lead.
With a couple minutes left on the clock, Mohave tried to make a last effort, only to be stopped by a sack by defensive linemen Jon Justice (No. 77) and intercepted by Jace Taylor to secure the 36th Golden Shovel win for the Fighting Knights.
After the game, RiverScene Magazine talked with coach Karl Thompson about how it felt to get that 36th win.
Coach Thompson said, “I thought it was an awesome win in a great venue with the support of such amazing fans. We wanted to gain momentum, because in our last game at NAU, we couldn’t beat them and being in a similar spot we were able to win out the third and fourth quarters. We kept our composure and it shows real development with these guys.”
Coach Thompson was satisfied with the win and looks to have a tremendous outlook on what this team will be capable of for games to come.
The Fighting Knights varsity team plays next against Moon Valley High School on Sept. 14, for the homecoming game.
Here are more photo highlights from the game by Erin O’Callaghan and Jillian Danielson.