Canyon Springs coach Hunkie Cooper will be the first to tell you his football team takes on his own personality — always fighting and never quitting.
The eighth-ranked Pioneers called on that no-quit spirit in the opening round of the Division I Sunrise Region playoffs at home Friday night against ninth-ranked Basic.
Down by eight points late in the third quarter, the Pioneers used a big defensive play to spearhead a comeback. Canyon Springs scored 30 unanswered points en route to a 37-15 victory.
With the win, the Pioneers (7-3) will meet Liberty in the semifinals next week.
Trailing by 15-7, the Pioneer defense propelled the comeback.
Basic quarterback Jaylen Rose, looking for wide receiver DeVonte Boyd, ran down the middle of the field to pass. However, Rose’s toss was intercepted by A.J. Cooper at the Canyon Springs 6-yard line.
Cooper started upfield and got to the 16, but pitched the ball to Diamante Luna, who raced down the sideline for the 84-yard return. Luna also added the two-point conversion, tying the game at 15-15.
“There’s no quit in these kids, quitting isn’t an option,” Cooper said. “We played very well defensively tonight against a team that can put up some numbers. When we have had adversity in the past, we usually fight ourselves. This team never gives up the fight.”
After a short punt, Luna found the endzone again, this time on the offensive side of the ball.
Luna hauled in a 32-yard pass from Stevie Farmer, the second of three quarterbacks used by the Pioneers, with 7:44 remaining. The score gave Canyon Springs its first lead at 23-15.
From there, it was all Pioneers as Canyon Springs added a pair of touchdowns , including a 1-yard run by Rayshawn Henderson and a 69-yard score by Zaviontay Henderson, his second of the night.
“This team has earned the right to be a good football team,” Cooper said. “This team has earned the right to play for a state championship, and now we are playing like a good football team. It seems like we’re always on the ropes, but this team responds to adversity.”
Basic (6-4), which held the ball for over 16 minutes in the first half, opened the scoring on a five-yard pass from Rose to Boyd to grab an early 6-0 lead. The Wolves added to the margin on Tim Lane’s 33-yard field goal, which gave Basic a 9-0 advantage.
Henderson, who lead all rushers with 172 yards on 15 carries, got Canyon Springs on the board at the 5:26 mark of the second quarter on an 84-yard run. The score trimmed the deficit to three.
Wolves running back Antraye Johnson found Tyrus Williams all alone for a 40-yard TD pass on the first possession of the third quarter to give Basic a 15-7 lead.
Rose completed 18 of 31 passes for 135 yards, but was intercepted three times. Boyd had six catches for just 30 yards. Canyon Springs limited Johnson to 31 yards, as Basic had just 62 yards on the ground.