FARMINGTON — Navajo Prep went into its game against 1A defending champion Escalante looking for a victory and respect.
Prep fell short of the victory, losing to the Lobos 48-44, but two Eagles put up offensive numbers never seen before in New Mexico high school football.
Quarterback Tyler Sorensen shattered the state record for passing yards in a game, while his primary target, wide receiver Isaiah Yazzie, set new marks for receptions and receiving yards.
Sorensen threw for 630 yards on 38-of-63 with five touchdowns and three interceptions, breaking the record set nearly 10 years ago by New Mexico High School's all-time leading passer Brett Henson of Hatch Valley, who threw for 546 yards against Menaul on Oct. 17, 2003, according to the New Mexico Activities Association.
"I think the confidence he has in the receivers is better," Prep head coach Rod Denetso said of his junior quarterback. "He knows when he throws it that they are going to catch it. That's the big difference. Last year, he really didn't trust the receivers. Now he knows any receiver out there can make the catch."
Sorensen said he wasn't really paying attention to his numbers during the game and was focused on trying to come back against Escalante.
"We just tried to work the ball down the field," Sorensen said. "The coaches called the perfect plays, the receivers were making plays after the catch and the line was blocking for me."
Sorensen said having so many options to throw to makes his job a lot easier.
"They're great," he said of his receivers. "They are all reliable, and they get a lot of yards after the catch."
Yazzie showed Sorensen's trust in his receivers was well warranted with his performance.
The senior wide receiver caught 15 passes for 353 yards and three touchdowns, snapping a two-year-old record set by Max Suazo Jr. of Taos, who had 14 receptions for 337 yards against Albuquerque Academy on Sept. 8, 2011.
Yazzie was unaware of exactly how good his performance was and said this is his first year playing football since eighth grade.
"I was just in shock," he said. "I knew the Prep team was getting better, and Rod Denetso really wanted me to try out so I did. I've really started to love the game again."
Yazzie said Sorensen has a good relationship with his wide receivers and does a good job getting everyone involved in the offense.
"He makes it a lot of fun. He's good at passing to all the receivers, and he's been working hard," Yazzie said. "He leads our team very well."
Denetso said opposing defenses have been focused on wide receiver/running back Mika Mauga. That has opened things up for the Eagles' other skill players, which allowed Yazzie to work against single coverage throughout the contest.
"We have a lot of athletic kids. Teams can double Mika Mauga all they want, but our other receivers are just as deadly, and Yazzie proved that," Denetso said.
The Prep head coach said Yazzie, Sorensen and the rest of the Eagles have shown growth because the players are receiving more individual attention from the new coaching staff.
"The Kovacs, Jose (Santistevan) and Brett (Alexander) are great mentors," Denetso said. "Before we did what we could, but now with the position coaches, everything is addressed. The quarterbacks know what the receivers are doing, and the receivers know what quarterback is doing."
The assistant coaches brought in a spread offense that the Eagles enjoy running, and it has been a big reason for the offensive outburst.
"They love it," Denetso said of the offense. "Last year, we'd drop back but didn't have much time to throw. This year, the line's better, and we are getting the ball out quicker."
Sorensen has been starting since his freshman year, and Denetso has seen his quarterback progress at the position each season.
"He's starting to see the field and read defenses," Denetso said. "I remember his freshman year, he'd make one read then just throw it. Now he's standing back there and reading coverages. Before he gets up to the line, he knows what everyone is doing and where the blitzes are coming from. He knows where he's going with the ball before it's even snapped."
Joshua Perry covers sports for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4577 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @jperrysuu.