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Monsters Finish on a High Note


The Eastern Arizona College Gila Monsters ended their season almost how they started it — by whipping their opponent. On Sept. 17, the Monsters destroyed the Pima College Aztecs, 62-0, and Saturday afternooon at John T. Mickelson Stadium, Eastern pummeled Phoenix College, 50-0. Going out with a bang was exactly what head EAC head coach John O'Mera had in mind. "That's what you want to do as a football team," O'Mera said. "We got better as the season went on. "Toward the end of the year, we were pretty much a machine, and the guys were doing what we were coaching them to do. We were very confident we could score on anybody," O'Mera said. "You wish you had a couple more games to play some of the teams that got away from you."

Eastern dominated every aspect of Saturday's game, statistically. EAC recorded 31 first downs to the Bears' nine, and the Monsters rushed for a whopping 445 yards compared to Phoenix College's meager 99. Fullback Lester Graham scored on his first rushing attempt of the day, giving EAC a 7-0 lead. EAC then scored a safety, which came after Phoenix bumbled the snap on a punt attempt, giving EAC a 9-0 lead heading into the second quarter.

Eastern scored 27 points in the second quarter, courtesy of touchdowns by Arthur Weaver (twice), Bobby Dunbar and Amos Allen. Allen's score was spectacular at least what happened afterwards was. Following his 21-yard TD run, Allen did a cartwheel and back-flip in the end zone, which gave EAC a 15-yard penalty, but the flip got a huge applause from the Monsters' fans. EAC led 36-0 at the half, and the scoring barrage wasn't over.

Dunbar scored in the third quarter to give Eastern a 42-0 advantage, and with 6:47 left in the game, Terrance Jones (105 receiving yards) caught a 23-yard TD pass from Eliserio. After a two-point conversion, EAC led 50-0. Eliserio was as efficient as ever during his final game as a Gila Monster, throwing for 128 yards on 4-of-9 attempts. Eliserio played well when he wasn't passing the ball on rushing for a game-high 119 yards on 18 carries. The sophomore signal caller finished the season as the Monsters' leading rusher with 610 yards. "You've got to give (Eliserio) all the credit in the world," O'Mera said. "He's a great kid — a winner — and he wouldn't allow us to lose this last one."

O'Mera also spoke volumes about the play from his big offensive line, which battled hard all season long. "Our offensive line played great. I've got to give coach (Chip) Shuler a lot of credit for getting that group to continue to improve," O'Mera said. "Levi Mack did a great job of making an unselfish move from 'D-line' to 'O-line' earlier this year, and those are the types of things that were big-time and made our offense go." Dunbar led the Monsters' running backs with 56 yards rushing, and Weaver scampered for 48 yards against the Bears. Defensively, Armondo Murillo snagged two interceptions, and Danzel Issac had four sacks. Murillo finished the year with seven interceptions, and Issac had 10 sacks, which tied teammate Marcus Miles for the team lead. Former Safford Bulldog CJ Gardner led EAC in receiving yards with 356, and Gardner also had three TDs.

"The great thing is that we sent our season off on a great note," O'Mera said. "We can smile all offseason, recruit proudly, lift weights, run and get ready to try and have a better run next year." With the win, EAC finished the season with a 6-4 record, two more wins that the Eastern Arizona College program had in the previous three seasons before O'Mera took over the head coaching job. "We were competitive with everybody," O'Mera said. "Not being blown out of any game this year is just one thought that sticks with you."

Andy Hansen, Sports Editor

Eastern Arizona Courier