Nogales Football has stepped into a land to where they have never been.
The Final Four.
The Apaches, the 14th seed in Division III have pulled off two stunning victories to put themselves just two more wins away from the school's first ever state football championship.
The upset road must continue though as the Apaches travel to Gilbert Saturday to take on Queen Creek (11-1) at 7 p.m. in the State Semifinals.
Nogales (10-2) has taken one more step than they did a year ago when the team made the playoffs but lost in the quarterfinal round to Glendale Cactus, 48-7.
The Apaches were beaten just twice during the regular season; to Salpointe Catholic, who also will play this weekend for a berth in the state finals and Sahuarita, who made the playoffs after a 10-0 regular season.
Nogales started their post-season run by bouncing 3rd seed and previously unbeaten Sabino 36-34. The Apaches followed that with a 22-8 road win last weekend at Peoria Sunrise Mountain.
Former Green Bay Packers (1987 NFL strike) replacement player Vince Villanucci is in his sixth season near the border and has now produced back-to-back ten-win seasons.
His offense is led by Brian McCarty, a dual threat as both a runner and a receiver. The senior has rushed for 1,448 yards and 16 touchdown, but in the playoffs has been more of a dangerous threat when senior quarterback Marcel Renteria is throwing him the football.
McCarty has 11 catches for 291 yards and three touchdowns in the Apaches two playoff wins. Renteria has thrown five TD strikes to just one interception over that stretch.
Villanucci says his defense is designed to stuff the middle and try and contain on the edges. Freshman linebacker Coy Colgate leads the team in tackles and has 8.5 sacks. His older brother Nick has picked off a Southern Arizona-high 11 passes this season.
This game will have a decidedly Ohio Football feel to it. Villanucci played collegiately at Bowling Green State in western-Ohio while Queen Creek head coach Joe Germaine, a Mesa Mountain View grad, quarterbacked at Ohio State and led the Buckeyes to the 1997 Rose Bowl win over Arizona State.
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