FARMINGTON — A historic season for Navajo Prep football ended in disappointment during the 2A state quarterfinals.
The No. 8 Eagles' high-flying offense was grounded by snowy conditions and a tough Santa Rosa defense in a 54-0 loss Saturday at Frank Ortiz Pride Field in Santa Rosa.
Prep (10-2) turned the ball over on its first eight possessions -- and nine times total for the game -- leading to good field position on multiple occasions for the Lions (11-0).
"The ball just kept slipping out," said Prep head coach Rod Denetso. "They played well, and we just had one of those games. You can't turn the ball over nine times against the No. 1 team in the state."
After a long kick return by the Lions and the first of seven interceptions by Eagles' quarterback Tyler Sorensen, Santa Rosa quickly took a 14-0 lead less than five minutes into the contest.
The Prep defense then settled in and forced one of two Santa Rosa fumbles, giving the Eagles a chance to get back in the game.
Prep was able to drive into the Santa Rosa red zone, but the drive was derailed by Sorensen's third interception.
"We moved the ball but just couldn't turned it into any points," Denetso said. "We drove it inside their 30 three or four times, but got nothing out of it."
Eventually, the Lions' single-wing rushing attack began to wear down the Eagles' defense.
Santa Rosa split the carries pretty evenly between three running backs.
Zeke Sena and Ryan Lopez finished with three touchdowns for the Lions, and Isaac Velasquez added two more in the win.
Denetso thought the weather played into the Lions' hands and favored their style of play.
"We have speedy guys, and they couldn't cut as good," he said. "We couldn't get any traction, and the ball got away. (The Lions) block well and run it well. They're efficient and consistent."
Despite the frustrating end to the season, Denetso hopes the success that Prep had throughout the season will serve as a building block for future teams.
"We're proud of the kids," he said. "We hope we got a little bit of respect, and we accomplished a lot."
Prep won a school record 10 games during the season, and Sorensen, Mikaele Mauga and Isaiah Yazzie set state passing and receiving records during the year.
The Eagles will lose five seniors, including Mauga, Yazzie and Alex Danzuka, so they'll have to reload the wide receiver position for Sorensen next season.
"We got some good young players and guys coming in," Denetso said. "We have several kids coming back, so I'm excited."