Before Desert Vista High School’s road tilt with Basha High last Friday, Thunder quarterback Derek Kline wasn’t feeling like himself. the victim of a flu bug that’s been making its way around the team.
On his hands and knees behind the bleachers at Basha, Kline was throwing up as his team prepared for warmups.
Somehow, after all that, he turned in a fantastic performance on the field.
Kline finished 20-of-27 for 270 yards and three touchdowns. All game long he appeared locked in – unfazed by his illness – and adding 61 yards on the ground as he eluded defenders with ease.
“He’s a warrior, man,” Desert Vista head coach Dan Hinds said. “What a great leader to be able to play the way he did when he felt like that. “It says a lot about him as a competitor.”
Kline bounced back from being sick, and in turn the Thunder bounced back from a nauseating 49-17 loss at the hands of Perry two weeks ago.
The bye week provided an opportunity for Desert Vista to reflect, adjust and clean up the mistakes that proved costly in the season opener.
They weren’t perfect in a 29-19 win over Basha, but the Thunder showed promise.
Early in the first quarter, Kline found Jake White wide open down the middle of the field for the game’s first score. The 44-yard catch and run cut through the center of the Bears’ secondary and put Desert Vista on top 6-0.
On the next possession, Austin Werbelow read the eyes of Basha quarterback Collin Collins and snagged an easy pick six. After a failed two-point conversion, the Thunder led 12-0 after four minutes of play.
“Our defense came out strong,” White said. “They were able to get in the backfield and get stops on three-and-outs.”
One stop later, the ball was back in Kline’s hands, and once again he delivered. Yet another blown coverage by the Bears was exposed by Kline’s big arm as he lofted a 61-yard touchdown to Dominic Shepardson.
It took all of a minute for the Thunder to go from up 6-0 to up 19-0. Things were looking bleak for Basha as the first quarter came to a close.
But the combination of Collins and Ty Siffermann helped the Bears claw back into it, as Siffermann scampered for a 32-yard receiving touchdown, tiptoeing along the sideline and bursting into the end zone.
An 18-yard rushing touchdown by Jeff Campbell added to a stellar second quarter for the Bears as they entered the half down 19-13.
Hinds said his halftime message to the Desert Vista defense was simple: get a stop on the opening drive of the third quarter.
After Basha went three-and-out, the Thunder offense chewed up some clock with a 14-play, 65-yard drive that lasted just over six minutes and ended with a rushing touchdown by Keishaud White.
Desert Vista led 26-13 through three quarters and held off Basha’s comeback attempt, which included another touchdown pass from Collins to help mask an otherwise poor outing. The Bears’ signal caller finished 14-of-30 for 194 yards and was constantly under pressure by the Thunder front seven.
The Thunder moves to 1-1 with the win, while Basha falls to 1-2. Getting this first win was crucial to the Thunder’s confidence as they look ahead to a home matchup with Skyline next Friday.
“We know we have the chemistry and the ability to be a good team, but we didn’t show that on the field against Perry,” White said. “It felt good to get out here, minimize the mistakes and get a win.”