It was Homecoming in more ways than one on Friday, Oct. 22. It was the occasion of Parker High’s Homecoming week. It was also a homecoming for the Parker Broncs football team as they got to play on their home field for the first time since their season opener Aug. 27. They celebrated the occasion by defeating a 2A Agua Fria rival, the Glendale Prep Griffins, 50-20.

Parker Coach Jeston Lotts praised the Griffins, saying they were a good team with a strong quarterback.

“We needed this game,” he said. “This will make us better.”

The Broncs had to play their games on the road for much of this season because their field, Joe Bush Stadium, sits on land held by the Colorado River Indian Tribes. Under the Tribal Council’s ‘Safer at Home’ resolution, no large gatherings could be held on Tribal land without a coronavirus mitigation plan approved by the Council. The Parker Unified School District was informed a mitigation plan for football games would not be approved until the district adopted a district-wide face mask mandate.

This led to the Broncs adopting the nickname of the “Road Warriors.”

The Parker School Board approved a face mask mandate, with some exemptions, at a special meeting Oct. 18. The Tribal Council approved a mitigation plan just in time for the Homecoming game.

The Broncs didn’t waste any time once the game started on their home field. After an interception following the kick-off, the Broncs moved deep into the Griffins’ territory. Cameron Poole took one in for a touchdown with 10:29 left on the clock. He took one in for a second time from four yards out with 1:05 left in the first quarter.

Glendale Prep started the second quarter with Sam Terpstra getting their first score of the game just six seconds into the quarter. The Broncs responded with 9:09 left in the first half. After a long run by Anthony Taylor, Thaddeus Nopah took the ball into the end zone for a touchdown. On the two-point conversion attempt, Zachary Bennett hit Thaddeus Nopah with a pass and the attempt was good.

In the second quarter, the Griffins went to their passing game behind quarterback Terpstra. They made some big gains on passing. Terpstra hit Nikolas Cummings twice with passes to move the Griffins down field. With 3:21 left in the first half, he tossed a pass to Caleb Ferguson in the end zone for Glendale Prep’s second touchdown.

The Broncs stepped up their pass blocking game in response. Tyson Ross would have three interceptions in the game, and he would block another pass. Damien Najara also had an interception, which led to a touchdown from Gage Honomichl. In addition, the defense sacked Terpstra three times.

One of those sacks came right at the end of the first half and was from Ezra Martinez. It seemed to put an exclamation point on the entire first half, which saw the Broncs up, 30-14.

“They’ve got a really good quarterback with a strong arm,” Lotts said of the Griffins and Terpstra. He added the Broncs do much better against teams that run a lot. He praised the Broncs for how they reacted to Terpstra’s passing game.

“The corners really stepped up,” he said.

The final score was Parker 50, Glendale Prep 20.

The game left the Broncs still undefeated in the 2021 season. They’re 8-0 overall, 3-0 against their 2A Agua Fria region rivals, and 7-0 against 2A teams. They are in first place in the 2A Agua Fria, and they are ranked No. 1 in the state in 2A by Arizona Interscholastic Association Power Points.

This coming week, on Oct. 29, the Broncs will play their final regular season game of 2021 when they face the Highland Prep Honey Badgers at home. The Honey Badgers are coming off a 27-12 loss to the Kingman Academy Tigers Oct. 22.

The state playoff schedule has not been set yet. The Broncs will likely have at least one home playoff game.

The announcement was made several times during the game that, if fans want to see the Broncs play at home, they needed to keep their face masks on, practice social distancing and disinfect their hands. These are all part of the mitigation plan approved by the CRIT Tribal Council.

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