The silence was all Desert Vista coach Dan Hinds needed to hear to know his team was in the right state of mind.
And the last two weeks have proven him right.
After losing rather badly to No. 1 Hamilton, 35-10, Hinds walked into the weight room the following morning and all that could be heard were the sounds of hard work and the weight plates being pushed around.
"I really liked the way they responded," Hinds said. "I walked into the weight room and it was dead silent. That's what you want to see. They reacted well."
The Thunder (8-1) have since defeated Mesquite and Dobson by a combined score of 87-14. It has them in a good place heading into Friday night's home clash with Chandler (7-2).
Desert Vista enters the game third in the power rankings and the Wolves are fifth. The winner will secure a top four seed and two home games should they make it that far. Second-ranked Brophy (9-0) and fourth-ranked Pinnacle (8-1) also face each other to ensure some shifting among the top teams.
The final decimal point won't be placed until close to midnight, but the answer the Thunder is looking for can come much sooner.
"I don't look at the power points, but everyone tells me all we need to do is win," Hinds said. "It's all I need to know."
It won't come easy against the Wolves, who always bring the athletes, and seem to be peeking at the end of the season. A week before Desert Vista lost to Hamilton, the Wolves had a 21-13 fourth quarter lead against the Huskies, only to lose 28-21
"They are a good team and they have good athletes," junior linemen Zack Tamburo said. "We have to be ready to play one of our best games. Intensity wise we have been doing great the last couple of weeks. We need to sharpen it up and get ready for the postseason."
It should be an offensive showcase as the Wolves average 386.2 yards and 42.2 points behind quarterback Darrell Garretson (1,600 yards, 18 TDs) and running back Paul Perkins (865 yards, 14 TDs), while the Thunder pile up 40.6 points and 339.4 yards per game.
The Thunder defense, which allows only 11.6 points a game, is ready to take on the challenge.
"We have to force three and outs and not let them extend drives with the athletes they have," said senior linebacker Mike Arredondo, who averages 11.7 tackles a game. "We have to limit the big plays."
Arredondo said the team has done a better job than the previous two years of being ready to play each week.
"We have been pretty consistent," Arredondo said. "In past years we've been up and down, but we haven't done that this year. I think it will be the same thing for Chandler."
With a senior class of 35 playing their final regular season game at home, and playoff positioning on the line, the Thunder is going to be more than ready come 7 p.m.
"The Dobson game got us back on track," Tamburo said. "We won big, but it didn't feel like a dominating performance. I liked the way we performed, but I didn't feel like we played our best game. We are still waiting for that game."
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