Artichokes drop Homecoming game in devastating fashion

Pima’s 45-17 win over SCC raises questions about the team’s postseason chances


Nicholas Tirella/Scottsdale Chronicle

Artichoke wide receiver Shaquan Curenton (9) makes a catch down the field from quarterback Tyler Burggman. The Artichokes would settle for a field goal on this drive.

Nicholas Tirella and Jeremy Beren

The Fighting Artichokes football team finds themselves in unfamiliar territory after a fourth straight defeat.

Homecoming was ruined for the Artichokes as the Pima Community College Aztecs made their way up from Tucson and humiliated Doug Madoski’s troops on Saturday night. The 45-17 decision dropped the Artichokes’ record to 2-4 and leaves them fighting for the postseason.

The Artichokes struggled all night as they tried to bounce back from Pima’s quick first quarter touchdowns and overall dominant performance. On Saturday, they just weren’t there and were not ready to play, as the Aztecs made plays and moved the ball downfield at will. After building a 21-7 first quarter lead, the Aztecs relented in the second quarter as the Artichokes scored a late touchdown to go into halftime trailing by only seven points. But as the third quarter started, the Aztecs scored 24 unanswered points while the Artichokes only scored one field goal in the second half of the game.  The third quarter has plagued the team this year and it seems that the Artichokes can never go that extra step and win. The offense was sluggish and couldn’t move the ball up the field throughout the game as the Aztec defense pressured quarterback Tyler Bruggman repeatedly. Simple blocks were missed and the run game wasn’t there, either. Most of the Artichokes’ offensive drives on the night were three and outs.

Lineman Vincent Vital believes in the offensive line and spoke about how the offensive line has grown this year, even after a poor performance on Saturday.

“We don’t see ourselves as young because we have six games under our belt,” Vital said. “We got to come back next week stronger, get better as a team and focus up for next week’s game.”

If the offensive performance could be categorized as a struggle, then the Artichokes’ defensive performance could be called a fiasco. The defense had a rough time controlling the tempo of the game. Missed tackles, penalties and a varied Pima offensive attack left the Artichokes in the dust, as the Aztecs continued to score throughout the game. The Aztecs ran all around the Artichoke defense and they struggled from the defensive line to the secondary.

Safety DJ Olmsted thought hard about the loss and noticed how both on-field play and mentality contributed to the heavy defeat.

“We were undisciplined,” Olmsted said. “Sometimes we couldn’t line up right and started to fold. Once the momentum hits, we start fighting and we have to play as a team all 60 minutes. Our expectations are set high and when we don’t meet those expectations, it’s like a snowball effect.”

The Artichokes were not prepared for Pima’s offensive onslaught and it showed on the field with missed opportunities and poor judgement. Madoski told his team that they need to find a way to come together and finish the season strong if they want a chance at the playoffs.

“I told these guys that you earn the right to win and tonight we didn’t earn the right to win,” Madoski said. “We played by far our worst game of the year.”

The Artichokes will have a bigger challenge awaiting for them next week as they hit the road to battle Phoenix College.