Ian Monje
ASU Student Journalist

Buckeye Union falls to Cesar Chavez in a blowout, suffers first loss of the season

October 1, 2022 by Ian Monje, Arizona State University

Cesar Chavez and Buckeye Union set up for the first possession of the second half.

Ian Monje is an ASU Cronkite School of Journalism student assigned to cover Buckeye Union High School for AZPreps365. 

LAVEEN — Buckeye Union entered its first ever matchup against Cesar Chavez undefeated and looked to achieve a fifth straight win.

A victory would've tied for the third longest win streak in school history. 

Both teams entered uncharted territory, and Buckeye head coach David “Puni” Ellis knew that leadership from himself and the seniors was going to be important.

“It’s more (about) keeping your composure when you face a 6A team,” Ellis said before kickoff. “Our seniors did a good job this week of getting our kids fired up for this game and making sure that everyone stuck to the game plan.”

Unfortunately, their undefeated season came to an end. 

The Champions routed the Hawks in a 47-7 blowout. Led by senior running back Micah Boozer’s three touchdown day, the Champions improved to 3-2 in ending their two-game losing streak.

Buckeye went up 7-0 by the end of the first quarter after a two-yard rushing touchdown by senior running back Vili Tongotea. He appeared to have suffered a leg injury in the second quarter that kept him out for the rest of the game. 

Senior running back David Fresneda took over a majority of the rushing duties.

Following the first quarter, the Hawks began piling up mistakes. A mishandled snap on a punt by senior Keegan Zaso ended up in a safety for the Champions.

Following a second-quarter interception thrown by junior quarterback Ricardo Juarez and a fumble off  a sack the Champions returned for an 80-yard touchdown, the Hawks were down, 30-7, at halftime.

Buckeye remained tough and gritty, though.

Junior defensive lineman Ndayiziga Pacifique recorded an interception on the first possession of the second half and Fresneda took off for a 49-yard run in the third quarter. 

The Champions, however, were too much for the Hawks, punching in 17 more points in the second half in cruising to a 40-point victory. 

One of the bright spots for Buckeye was senior linebacker Brock Holt, who recorded a team-high eight total tackles and a pass breakup. As a three-year varsity player and being a senior, he understands the importance to move on from tough games and continue to lead.

“We’re going to focus on (forgiving and forgetting),” Holt said. “We’re out here, a 4A team playing a 6A team. We’re ready for the next one. We’ll (have) short-term memory loss.”

Seniors such as Holt have a big responsibility to pick everyone else up, continue to lead and improve as the minutes pass. It is a responsibility the coaching staff has a strong emphasis on.

Running backs coach Gale Taylor is one of the enforcers of that responsibility.

Throughout the highs and lows during the season, he expects the team to continue to stay together as one.

“We always say the words ‘all in, all out’ and stress the word ‘all,’” Taylor said. “Be smart, but play the way we play, just do what we do. As I say, do better, get better. We believe in that around here, that’s our philosophy.”

Buckeye Union will look to improve to 5-1 in their next game against district rival Estrella Foothills.

Cesar Chavez will host Desert Ridge in its next game.