Desert Vista pummeled Skyline Friday night by a score of 44-13, but the Thunder didn’t leave the field without a few bumps and bruises of their own. The game was physical from the outset, and some Desert Vista coaches took an exception to it.
“They were dirty,” an assistant coach lamented after postgame handshakes.
Head coach Dan Hinds was frustrated, too, but focused instead on the ability of his players to maintain a level head in challenging situations.
“I’m proud of Desert Vista football players,” Hinds said. “They’re classy, they take the high road and they have character.”
The Thunder took the proverbial high road all the way to a dominant win in front of their home fans, picking apart a Coyotes team that was outmatched on both sides of the ball. Teams are often more physical when there’s a talent disparity, one which was evident from the start of Friday’s contest.
After forcing a fumble deep in Skyline territory, Desert Vista struck first on a five-yard screen pass from Derek Kline to Jordan Huddleston, going up 7-0 with seven minutes left in the first quarter.
Just over two minutes later, a one-yard run by Keishaud White gave the Thunder a 14-0 lead, which they carried through the end of the first quarter. It would be the start of a breakout day for guys with the last name White.
Jake White hauled in a 20-yard touchdown pass from Kline in the early second quarter to help Desert Vista work toward a 24-0 halftime lead, but the second half belonged to Keishaud.
“Keishaud White, man,” Hinds raved. “He’s just a great football player. When the lights turn on Friday nights, Keishaud White is gonna give it all he’s got."
Most of White’s unofficial 133 all-purpose yards came in the second half, along with two of his three touchdowns. The play of the day came after Skyline had scored its first touchdown of the game. White ran a kickoff back 95 yards to get those points back in less than 15 seconds.
White gives credit to his teammates for setting the play up, but his speed and athleticism were on full display as he burst through the holes they created. The fireplug senior made sure to acknowledge that he’s got room to grow.
“I’m feeling good, but I still feel like I’ve got some stuff to improve on,” White said. “I need to have my mind mentally set that it’s game time and I’ve got to do my job.”
He’d get another touchdown on the ground before hobbling off the field with the game in hand. The physical nature of the game wore on a lot of the Thunder players as the night went on, so Hinds elected to plug in substitutes with about 5 minutes left and a 31-point lead.
Quarterback Derek Kline finished the game an unofficial 16-of-26 with 170 yards and three touchdowns. He wasn’t as locked in as last week’s thrashing of Basha, but he didn’t see the field as much, either. The Thunder offense didn’t appear in the second half until the 2:46 mark of the 3rd quarter, and Kline sat for the last half of the fourth.
It wasn’t a perfect game by any stretch. A comfortable victory was uncomfortable at times for Desert Vista as it faced a gritty Skyline side, and a week of recovery and adjustment is ahead as a road game at Brophy looms next Friday.
Penalties were a problem once again for the Thunder despite a lop-sided final score. Both Hinds and White said the issue should be smoothed out this week at practice.
“We’re progressing a lot,” White said. “We’ve still got a lot to work on, like limiting our mental mistakes, but we’ll get better.”