Rio Rico has already posted a season for the ages. Soon, the Hawks could find themselves in the state playoffs for the first time in program history.
If it happens, Rio Rico could look back on Friday night’s performance as yet another big moment in a charmed season.
Rio Rico surrendered five consecutive scores to host Amphitheater, only to rally and come away with a 51-50 win. The victory guaranteed the first winning season in school history for Rio Rico.
Despite giving up 41 points in the first half, the Hawks trailed by only four at halftime.
“We were clicking on all cylinders” offensively, said senior running back Aaron Fanning. “We were just one possession behind them. We were never worried.”
Fanning was one of many Hawks to show up for their big game Friday night. The tailback rushed 18 times for 129 yards and caught four passes for 45 yards.
Fanning, who also plays defensive back, helped turn the game around in the second half.
“We made a lot of changes at halftime, especially with our pressure,” Fanning said. “As a team we knew if we could just get that one or two stops we’d have a good chance to win the game.”
Rio Rico’s defense was completely different in the second half, forcing two punts early. The defensive stops allowed the Hawks to regain possession and keep scoring.
Rio Rico took a three-point lead when quarterback Sean Fanning plunged in from 1 yard out with 8 minutes 1 second left in the fourth quarter.
An Amphi safety cut Rio Rico’s lead to one point with five minutes left. The Hawks made a key fourth-down stop, however, and were able to run out the clock.
Aaron Fanning ran through a frustrated Amphitheater defense as the time ticked away.
The Hawks improved to 6-2, and Amphi fell to 4-4.
The defensive stop “was huge. It came at the best time,” Fanning said.
“It finally hit me that we could do this, and that going to state was now a reality.
“To be able to tell my family and people down the road that I was part of a team like this is amazing,” Fanning said. “But we still have the rest of the season ahead of us, so it feels great, but we can’t stop now.”