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TOMBSTONE — The Tombstone Yellow Jackets football team played a hard-fought season opener Friday evening against Scottsdale Preparatory Academy, but fell to the Spartans, 47-17.

Carson Boyll, a Spartan junior, set the game’s tone with an early touchdown in the first quarter, with Scottsdale Prep. dominating the game from start to finish.

Yellow Jacket wide receiver Zeke Esparza put his team on the scoreboard with a field goal in the first quarter, ending the quarter with a 7 to 3 score.

Spartan wide receiver Thomas Reinhardt scored two more unanswered touchdowns in the second quarter, with the game’s first half ending 20-3, in favor of the visiting team.

At the start of the third quarter, the Spartans scored another touchdown, but the Yellow Jackets were able to block the extra point.

Payton Foster brought the Yellow Jacket home crowd to its feet when he scored a 76-yard touchdown, followed by an extra point. With a score of 26-10 at the end of the third quarter, things looked a little more hopeful for the home team.

But hope for a comeback was slashed in the fourth quarter when the Spartans rolled over the Yellow Jackets by scoring three more touchdowns.

With a score of 47-10, Yellow Jacket wide receiver Nick Campbell scored a touchdown toward the end of the fourth. The extra point was good and the game ended with a 47 to 17 score.

“I know the team was disappointed, but I told them after the game how proud I was of them, and praised them for how hard they fought,” said Tombstone coach Jerry Rhoades. “Of the 22 players on our team, 13 of them are freshmen, so we have a lot of potential.”

Offensively, the team had times where Rhoades felt they showed some “good things.”

“Adrian Bonilla, a freshman, is going to be an outstanding football player for us,” Rhoades said. “He carried the load for us, both offensively and defensively. He got first downs when we needed them and made some pretty significant tackles throughout the game.”

Rhoades also praised the efforts of Foster, a running back and cornerback.

“Payton broke out in the open, found some daylight and ran 76 yards for the touchdown. He also had a couple of really big pass breakups on defense,” Rhoades said.

“Every one of the freshmen kids played, contributed and worked hard. They stood there through the entire game and, even when things looked pretty dismal, they never quit, none of them came out of the game because of injuries and they all had really good attitudes, in spite of the defeat.”

Rhoades also pointed to the team’s potential, once some of the younger players get a little more experience.

“Our region is one of the toughest 2A divisions in the state,” he said. “So we’re going to have our work cut out for us, especially since we have one of the youngest teams out there.”

Rhoades came to Tombstone from the Phoenix area, where he worked with Scottsdale Preparatory coach David Primavera two years ago, and was familiar with some of the team’s older players.

When interviewed, Primavera said this is the first time he’s visited Southern Arizona.

“We’ve never played Tombstone before tonight’s game,” he said. “We played really well, we executed and we overcame some mistakes.”

“Tombstone is a really good team and they also played really hard. It was honestly great to come out here.”

This is Primvera’s fourth year at Scottsdale Prep.

“I also coached with Coach Jerry Rhoades for a year. He was like a mentor to me. I learned so much from him; he was with me for a year and he was such a big help for our program”.

Primavera said the game gave the teams a chance to be on the football field, something that no one was sure would even be happening because of changes caused by COVID.

Tombstone’s next game is Friday, when they’ll be playing Sequoia Pathways Academy out of the City of Maricopa in Pinal County.

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