Scottsdale Christian takes down unbeaten Arizona Lutheran to reach 2A Championship game

November 18, 2023 by Ben Stapley, AZPreps365

Scottsdale Christian's Hunter Wales (11) celebrates a big fourth down stop by the Eagle defense in the fourth quarter Saturday afternoon. Photo By Ben Stapley

Scottsdale Christian exorcized a years’ worth of football ghosts on the same field that haunted it all off-season. 

Thanks to a highlight reel performance from Andrew Trapp, the Eagles are now on their way to the 2A State Championship game thanks to a 23-16 victory over Arizona Lutheran in Saturday’s early semifinal contest at Westwood High School.

Brimhall Field was where Scottsdale Christian (10-2) was blown out in last year’s semifinals by Morenci, 70-41. Senior Andrew Trapp scored all three touchdowns for Scottsdale Christian, plus a pair of two point receptions to lead the No. 3 Eagles, who handed No. 2 Arizona Lutheran (12-1) its first loss of the season. Scottsdale Christian will play No. 1 Pima (13-0), who outdueled San Tan Charter, 52-49.

The title game is next Saturday at Mountain Pointe High School at 2pm. 

“We worked all year so we didn’t have to feel that again,” Scottsdale Christian quarterback Jack Atkinson said afterward. “It feels amazing to help lead this team to the state championship game.”

40 years have passed since Scottsdale Christian won a state championship, and Pima was also  the opponent in that 1983 title game.

“We started out slow but picked things up as the game went along,” Trapp said afterward

“It feels really good because we knew what it was like to lose here (last year).”

Arizona Lutheran: Staying Grounded

The Eagles were eventually able to overcome the Coyotes bruising ground attack after they controlled the line of scrimmage for most of the first half. Arizona Lutheran used an assortment of traps and counter plays that chewed up over 16 minutes of clock in the first half with two long drives that didn’t see one pass attempt. The first was an 11 play, 71-yard march capped off by an Elijah Harris three yard touchdown run and subsequent two point run for an 8-0 lead at the end of the first quarter. 

The Eagles countered back with an efficient drive of their own, mixing the run and pass. Trapp scored on a two yard run up the middle, and then caught the two point conversion pass from Atkinson to tie the score at 8.

Arizona Lutheran went to the ground again for 12 straight plays, driving to the Eagles’ nine yard line. That’s when the defense made its first significant stand, stuffing the Coyotes on downs, leaving the score 8-8 at halftime.

But Arizona Lutheran came out swinging in the third quarter. After driving to the 25-yard line of Scottsdale, Quarterback Luis Guerrero used play action as Elijah Harris snuck out of the backfield into the secondary where Guerrero found him wide open for the touchdown.

Scottsdale Christian Defense lifts Offense

Trailing 16-8, Atkinson went back to work, completing five of six passes on the next drive, including a four yard touchdown strike in the left corner to Trapp. The pair connected for the second two point conversion, tying the game at 16 near the end of the third quarter.

“It was a slugfest throughout the whole game,” Atkinson added.

But Scottsdale Christian’s defense would tighten up.

On Arizona Lutheran’s next drive, the Scottsdale Christian defense came up with another big stop on their own 22 yard line. The Eagles would convert the momentum on the next play. Trapp took the handoff on a counter play, cutting through Coyote interior and out into open daylight, finding the endzone for a 78-yard score. The PAT gave the Eagles a 23-16, its first lead of the game and a huge momentum shift with less than nine minutes in the game. 

Arizona Lutheran was unable to put together a meaningful drive from that point on.

“Our defense came up clutch all throughout the second half and kept getting the offense the ball,” Atkinson said. “The line played great all day allowing us to rush the ball. They gave me tons of time whenever we threw. The second half they stepped up and just out played those guys at the line of scrimmage.” 

Arizona Lutheran, which averaged 292 rushing yards per game on the season, still managed to grind out over 200 yards against Scottsdale Christian, but the Eagles made the necessary steps in the second half.