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Boots scoots Pirates past Rogue River

Senior tailback has a big second half to lead Phoenix in Skyline opener

PHOENIX ' The Phoenix football team's offense can be as predictable as an Oregon rain shower in the spring.

Get the ball to running back Max Boots and watch him go.

Rogue River knew it would get a heavy dose of Boots, but it was the Chieftains' aerial counter-attack that nearly derailed the eighth-ranked Pirates.

Phoenix settled down from an 18-8 halftime deficit and let Boots do the walking over the final two quarters during a 28-21 victory in the Skyline Conference opener for both teams at Jack Woodward Stadium.

The 6-foot, 195-pound senior tailback rushed for 257 yards on 34 carries and scored all four Pirate touchdowns. Boots carried the ball 23 times in the second half alone for 213 yards.

— I might be a little sore tomorrow, said Boots, who had the ball in his hands on 23 of the 25 plays Phoenix ran over the final 24 minutes. I can't ever remember carrying the ball that many times.

Unlike Phoenix's first two contests, where they won by a combined score of 83-20, the game was in doubt until the final minutes.

With the score still knotted at 21-all and only four minutes to play, Boots went to work.

He carried for — yards on first down from his own 17 and had what looked like a first down after a 14-yard pickup on third-and-long.

After offsetting penalties left the Pirates with a third-and-four, Boots turned a toss sweep into a 76-yard TD run off the right side.

I can't thank my line enough, said Boots. Everyone just got on their blocks and my reads were easy.

Ryan Harvey's extra point was good and the Phoenix defense stiffened to get the ball back and run out the clock.

We really had to pound and pound them, said Pirates' coach Gordy Crowston, whose voice was a little hoarse after a halftime pep talk.

I think (Rogue River) was a little worn out by the end.

The Chieftains (2-2 overall) brought a confusing look, both offensively and defensively.

Senior quarterback Mitch Reagles, who missed the first three games with a broken left arm, lit up the Phoenix defense in the opening half to the tune of 174 yards on 6 of 8 passing.

(Phoenix) hadn't seen our real passing game (on film), said Rogue River coach Walt Bazylewicz. I don't know if they underestimated us but I don't think they knew what to expect from Mitch. He's a great quarterback.

The Chieftain defense was doing their part by shooting the gaps on the perimeter and cutting down Phoenix's outside running lanes.

Rogue River came up with a good game plan, said Crowston, off to a 3-0 start at Phoenix for the first time in four seasons. We were a little bit confused in the first half.

But it was the Rogue River passing game that gave Phoenix the most fits.

Reagles had his way with the Pirate secondary most of the game, but his one mistake paid immediate dividends late for Phoenix.

Reagles, who finished with 222 yards through the air, had his team on the move with a 21-15 lead midway through the third quarter.

But on third-and-eight from his own 34, Reagles' intended pass for Joey Parrillo was picked by junior corner Joey Shepherd and returned to the Rogue River 22. Boots converted the turnover into his third touchdown six plays later to even the game.

(Shepherd) is a playmaker, said Crowston. He got beat deep (on Rogue River's first touchdown) but redeemed himself on that pick. That play turned the tide.

Despite the difficult loss, Reagles was just happy to be back on the field.

It felt great to get back out there against a top-ranked team, said Reagles. I was pretty nervous at the start but I settled down.

In the first quarter, Reagles immediately answered Boots' 14-yard touchdown catch with a 68-yard bomb to senior Joey Parrillo.

The two-point conversion was no good, but the Chieftains were far from finished.

Rogue River's defense held on Phoenix's next possession, giving the ball back to the offense on its own 28.

Reagles hooked up with Parrillo for 6 yards on first down and followed with a 71-yard scoring heave to Vince Reyes. The point-after failed, giving the Chieftains a 12-8 advantage.

Fullback Mike Kennedy lost the ball on Phoenix's ensuing possession and senior tailback Nate Kinman turned it into a 1-yard scoring plunge as Rogue River went into the half up 18-8.

The wheels came off in the opening minutes of the third quarter, however, when starting linebacker and fullback Keith Hull went down with a leg injury on the second-half kickoff.

I think that set us back a little, said Bazylewicz. We still moved the ball fairly well but we just never recovered after that.

Parrillo turned out to be Reagles' favorite target, catching six balls for 135 yards ' including a fully extended diving catch for 36 yards that kept a drive alive and led to Jamison Loop's 35-yard field goal.

Kinman led Rogue River in rushing with 17 carries for 71 yards and a touchdown.

Rogue River....................................6 12 — 0 ' 21

Phoenix...........................................8 0 7 13 ' 28

P ' Boots 14 pass from Hagert (Boots run)

RR ' Parrillo 68 pass from Reagles (run failed)

RR ' Reyes 71 pass from Reagles (kick failed)

RR ' Kinman — run (kick failed)

P ' Boots 36 run (Harvey kick)

RR ' FG Loop 32

P ' Boots — run (kick failed)

P ' Boots 76 run (Harvey kick)

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Phoenix?s Max Boots (35) rumbles through Rogue River?s Max Geiszler, below, and Wade Bennett (55) during Friday?s game. Boots rushed for more than 200 yards in the second half. Mail Tribune / Roy Musitelli - Mail Tribune Roy Musitelli