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Starfires quarterback torches Argylls for seven TDs

By CHUCK LANDIS - clandis@chronicle-tribune.com

BERNE — James Arnold played like the Godzilla of high school quarterbacks and the Madison-Grant football team was helpless to stop the South Adams junior Friday evening.

Arnold rampaged through the Argylls secondary just like the legendary sea creature strolled into Tokoyo and left a terrible wake, collecting seven touchdowns and 354 yards passing in the Starfires' 47-20 victory over the Argylls in the Class A Sectional 43 championship game.

And he only needed one half to accomplish all his carnage. Arnold spent the entire second half on the sideline while the game played out with a running clock.

"We blew some coverages, but a lot of times we were there and he just put it right on the money," Argylls coach Brady Turner said. "(South Adams) has athletes all over the field and we just couldn't keep up with them."

Madison-Grant finished 4-8 after having a four-game win streak end, with the last two representing the Argylls' first postseason victories in eight years. It had been 2010 since they last played for a sectional title.

The Argylls also gashed Class A's second-ranked team for 240 rushing yards. Clayton Powell led the way with 89 yards on 22 carries and ran in a TD in the final 30 seconds of play.

Randall Fultz also scored on an 80-yard fumble recovery return in the third quarter.

"Yeah, we got a lot of younger kids and we've got the experience of being in this game now," Turner said. "Hopefully, the kids keep coming out and we get in the weight room and we keep this program moving forward."

But on this night, the Argylls could only marvel as Arnold carved them up with precision passing. Just three minutes into the game, Arnold hooked up with his tight end Nick Miller, who's being recruited by Division I colleges, on a 59-yard TD. And just a little more than two minutes later, he found Aiden Wanner on what would be the first of three TD connections, this one from 46 yards.

Madison-Grant answered back with a 12-play, five-minute scoring drive that quarterback Jack Thompson finished with a one-yard plunge. Argylls lineman Connor Murphy recovered a fumble at the Starfires 40 to set up the drive, and Thompson converted on fourth down to keep it alive.

It only slowed Arnold momentarily and he threw TD passes of 53, 41, 36 and 27 yards before his coupe de grace — Trey Schoch's 84-yard catch-and-run just 38 seconds before halftime that made it 47-6. For the season, Arnold has passed for nearly 3,000 yards and 44 TDs.

Schoch caught three passes — all for TDs — that totaled 173 yards. Wanner also made every one of his catches count for scores and finished with 114 yards.

"You can't really prepare or practice against something like that," Turner said of the Starfires' passing attack. "We don't have the people on the scout team to run the routes they were running. And we threw every blitz we had in the book at him and they picked it up and blocked it and he had all kinds of time back there.

"There were several third and even fourth down plays and they would just get behind us," he continued. "We tried to double-team (Wanner) because on film he was catching all the passes. But then (Schoch) does what he does ... and we were running all over the field. They didn't even have their No. 1 guy (Drew Stutzman)."

Fultz scooped up a fumble on South Adams' initial drive of the second half and ran untouched 80 yards to the end zone with receiver Jimmy Rigney leading the way. The Argylls scored 14 points off two South Adams turnovers.

"The first thing I seen was the ball on the ground and I figured I would jump on it," Fultz said. "But we were down and I figured why not try to make something of it.

"So I picked it up and all I seen was '81' Jimmy Rigney leading me to the end zone," he added. "It was emotional and I started crying after the play. We were still down but it still meant something to me."

Tanner Brooks ran six times for 60 yards, while Thompson gained 46 on 11 carries and was 2-of-4 passing for 27 yards. Rigney had a 21-yard reception in the Argylls' first scoring drive.