Coming into week eight of the inaugural girls flag football season, Mountain Ridge’s squad carried a struggling 2-5 record.
Fresh off the heels of a 17-7 loss to Red Mountain, head coach Whitney Warmus knew the team would turn a corner and start seeing success.
“We had a real hard work ethic, and every day at practice, we came and worked hard, and we were just focusing on what we did best,” Warmus said. “We were just taking everything one play at a time, one game at a time. We were just working on the little things and just correcting those.
“I think the big thing was their bond and how they work together and how they became a true family, and I think that’s what kind of pushed them forward each game.”
Creating that family environment was the key factor for the Mountain Lions, as they ripped off six straight wins to capture the 6A Desert Valley region title and etched a spot in the playoffs — ranked No. 11 in the bracket.
From there, Mountain Ridge did the unthinkable, rattling off three straight upsets against three of the top six teams in the conference — No. 6 Chandler, No. 3 Marana, and a rematch against No. 2 Red Mountain. With “a goldfish mentality,” the squad tried to “play every game as if it was their last,” creating an unshakeable resolve in the toughest time of the year.
“I think that it was just having the attitude that we had and carrying it to each team of just staying competitive and our mottos of playing it one play at a time,” senior quarterback Madison Green said. “Goldfish have like the 10-second memory span, so we take that and use that as like when we do make a mistake — because it’s inevitable in a playoff game — and so how do we battle back from that? And I think that’s what really helped us prepare for each game.”
With an opportunity to capture gold in the final game of the season, the team stared down a matchup against Mountain View, just four quarters away from the ultimate goal.
In a nailbiter, Mountain Ridge came up just short, falling to the Toros, 10-7.
Although placing as the runners-up on the season, the 2023 program set a foundation for future teams to build on.
“I feel like we did a really good job of helping the underclassmen because now they can see what success is like and what they need to strive for,” senior defender Ellie Cardiff said.
“I think that I’m very proud of what we have established and created so far,” Green added. “But I’m also really excited to see how the program’s going to thrive because I think we built a firm foundation and now it’s just going to take root and I’m really excited for it.”
With Green and Cardiff en route to graduation, Warmus had nothing but pride for what they — and the rest of the team — were able to accomplish. The group of 25 inexperienced girls banded together to create a legacy for Mountain Ridge to use as motivation for years to come.
“I’ve been proud of them since day one,” Warmus said. “I knew what they put together already, and to see their growth as leaders, as people and as teammates, they’ve truly left a legacy for this program since day one.
“I think they got everything that they deserved with the opportunities and having their names out there.”
By Joe McHugh, Peoria Times Staff Writer www.peoriatimes.com
2023-11-19 07:00:00 , www.peoriatimes.com – Vivrr Local Results in sports of type article