FARMINGTON — Sharing an offense with the state's leading receiver, leading passer, and single-game receiving record holder, it's easy for a player like Alex Danzuka to fly under the radar, but that's just the way he likes it.
Danzuka took advantage of single coverage, catching six passes for 163 yards and three touchdowns, in the first half of Navajo Prep's first round 63-45 playoff victory against New Mexico Military Institute on Saturday.
"We all knew we had a passing edge on them, and I just did my job," Danzuka said. "I ran my routes, Tyler (Sorensen) gave me the ball, and I took it from there."
NMMI shifted their focus to Danzuka in the second half, holding the senior without a catch, but all the attention he drew opened up Mikaele Mauga, who leads the state in receiving yards and touchdowns, and Isaiah Yazzie, who set New Mexico's single game receiving record with 353 yards against Escalante on Sept. 27, allowing his two teammates to join him in surpassing 100 yards for the game.
"They have to worry about me now. We have our spread offense that they haven't seen before," Danzuka said of opposing defenses. "They're used to running all the time, so it's a pretty crazy comparison."
Third-year head coach Rod Denetso said Danzuka is one of the hardest workers on the team and he has seen him vastly improve in the past three seasons.
"My first year here, he was smaller, had two bricks for hands and couldn't catch a football, then seeing him this year is totally awesome," Denetso said. "He's put in the work on the field and in the weight room and this is the final product. He's a great kid -- good grades, says, 'yes sir,' 'no sir.' Overall, he's a Navajo Prep type of kid."
Danzuka's hard work throughout his high school career has paid off this season. He's currently second in 2A with 12 receiving touchdowns, behind only his teammate Mauga.
"He's dependable. As much confidence we have in Mika, we have that much in Alex," Denetso said. "Teams forget about how fast he is and he's one of the main reasons we're here. He's been a consistent receiver, running good routes and has good hands. He works so hard and bought into the system. I've seen his confidence grow so much from his sophomore year. He has his life set out in front of him. He's mature and one of our leaders. He's the guy who wakes everyone up in the morning and makes everyone accountable for their work in the weight room."
Danzuka said he's happy to have played an important role on a Prep team that has set a school record of 10 victories this season.
"Last year, Mika caught most of the passes and I caught a few balls here and there, but this year, everyone is getting the ball. We all score, and we all get yards," Danzuka said.
With a matchup against No. 1 Santa Rosa next up for No. 8 Prep, Danzuka said the team can't wait for the chance to shock the state with an upset.
"I'm pretty excited. They don't face teams like us," he said.