High School Sports

Secondary a primary reason for Mission Prep football team’s success

Good play in the secondary sometimes goes unnoticed.

Last week, in a 51-30 win over Desert, Mission Prep’s play was a key ingredient to the victory. And interceptions by junior defensive back Bailey Hungerford and senior safety Patrick Laird helped highlight the effort for the captive Mission Prep home crowd.

The secondary unit of Hungerford and Calvin Levisay at cornerback, and Laird and Evan Talbert at safety held Desert quarterback Matthew Moore — who passed for 2,200 yards this season — to a 10-for-35 passing night.

Moore tallied 243 yards through the air, but Mission Prep got two key stops in the red zone, and much of the Scorpions’ scoring came late in the fourth quarter when the game was already decided.

Levisay has six interceptions on the season, and Hungerford has three; Talbert has added three picks, and Laird adds two more.

Talbert, the team’s top receiver, and Laird, Mission Prep’s top rusher, play on both sides of the ball, which requires them to be in top-notch condition. Coaches say they’ve worked hard in their training to stay strong and fit.

Hungerford’s interception came late in the game last week and served as icing on the cake for Mission Prep.

“We’re always looking for interceptions,” Hungerford said. “I jumped the route and got that one. I think our secondary has been very important this year. We’ve played against a lot of good quarterbacks.”

Levisay said to defend the pass, the secondary has studied game film closely and picked up on receivers’ tendencies.

Along with their skill comes a tenacity that emerged in the Desert game, when Levisay got into scuffles with a Scorpions receiver he was matched up against.

“He was kind of taking some cheap shots and that was (ticking) me off,” Levisay said. “One time, he came and just hit me, and I kind of just lost it and put him on his back. But there was nothing really after that.”

After some discussions with the referee and some quelling of emotion, the two seemed civil with each other by the end of the contest.

Against Salesian in the division final Saturday, the Royals will have their hands full against Arizona-bound tight end Marquis Ware, who has 639 yards and seven touchdowns receiving.

Jeremy Kelly leads the team with 842 yards and four touchdowns receiving.

“They’re going to be after it,” Levisay said. “All of us know that we have to take care of business.”