Desert Vista boys lacrosse coach Dan Lannon admittedly fell for it at first.

Then he remembered who he was dealing with and, more importantly, what day it was when he received a slew of texts.

When his seniors texted Lannon that they got in trouble at school and wouldn't be able to play in the game later that day, Lannon was tricked.

Only for two seconds, he says. Once he realized it, he was sure to add a quip of his own.

After all it was April Fools' Day and the seniors have a tendency to keep the team atmosphere loose.

"I proceeded to text them back, ‘Good riddance,'" Lannon said.

While the Thunder has a playful attitude off the field, they have had a bit of a mean streak on it.

Desert Vista soundly defeated Desert Mountain 17-5 Friday night to push its record to 6-1 on the year. The Thunder is ranked third in the state, with its only loss coming to second-ranked Chaparral.

The five starting seniors, and pranksters, are Colten Valadez, Conor McLaughlin, Connor Stainton, David Sartori and Tyler Kunce.

"We always joke around with the coaches," Valadez said. "We've been on a few road trips and we end up having fun with them. They're great guys."

The seniors' personalities set the tone for the team being loose, but it's the years of hard work that allows there to be little tension off and on the field.

"They're probably more loosey-goosey than I would like," Lannon said, cracking a smile.

Off the field the seniors are close friends, hanging out with each other on weekends when the club team isn't playing.

"Our senior class grew up together, been playing together for the longest time," Valadez said.

Mostly being offensive players, and having played together for four years, the senior starters are paying dividends for Desert Vista. The offense has been a strong point for the Thunder this year, scoring no less than 17 goals in the last three games.

"I think our offense has a little more power than most teams," Lannon said.

However, this team is not old by any stretch. The Thunder is well balanced in each age class, with two freshmen starting and an eighth-grader on the team.

Anthony Abbadessa, one of the starting freshmen, feels right at home with the team's camaraderie.

"The guys are all super cool to me," Abbadessa said. "They're fun to play with."

Lance Pavlina also contributes heavily as a freshman along with Cade van Raaphorst, who is playing varsity lacrosse as an eighth-grader. The lacrosse league recently passed a by-law allowing eighth-graders to play for the high school teams.

Throughout the season, at least one of the seniors has stepped up and had a big game to help the team. This falls in line with the way coach Lannon picks captains. Anyone can make the difference in any game.

Instead of having captains selected before the year started, Lannon nominates two or three captains each game. He makes this decision based on those who have had good practices and shown leadership throughout the week.

Valadez added four goals in Friday's victory against Desert Mountain; a game after fellow senior David Sartori collected five goals.

Kunce's role cannot be understated as he wins most of the face-offs every game, allowing the Desert Vista offense to do some damage.

The team has enjoyed great success this year, thanks in part to fundamentals and discipline.

"If we don't make unforced errors, we can be very successful," Lannon said.

With a diverse mix of seniors, freshman, and everything in between, the Thunder have meshed into a strong unit. Well-balanced offensively and defensively, and also a balanced amount of fun and business has helped Desert Vista become one of the strongest teams in the state.

• Daniel Kemp is a freshman journalism major at Arizona State University.

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