Alex Farina started the year wearing No. 85, but in reality he was No. 3.
Now, he is No. 1 wearing No. 28.
The quarterback position for Desert Vista has been in flux all season and it continues this week as Farina, who began the year as the junior varsity starter, takes over as starter for the injured Cade van Raaphorst, who started the first five games but the junior tore his meniscus in his right knee during the Monday practice leading up to the Ahwatukee Bowl last week.
The coaching staff went with a rotating system against Mountain Pointe with senior Brendon Smith getting the start and Farina coming in relief in a 49-6 loss.
Neither performed well against one of the state’s, if not the nation’s, top defenses.
Farina, who wore No. 85 in the season opener before switching to No. 28, saw his first varsity action, while Smith saw some varsity time for Desert Ridge last year and directed two drives against Mission Hills (Calif.) in the season opener.
The former admitted it wasn’t exactly the ideal situation to make his debut, but made no excuses for a performance that included three interceptions, two of which were returned for a touchdown and the other killed some momentum out of halftime in what was a close game at the time.
“Last week’s game was a big jump from the JV level in a number of different ways,” Farina said via Twitter messaging. “Playing my first varsity game as a sophomore and having it be against the (8th ranked) team in the nation in front of 11,000 people was just crazy to think about.
“I never thought that I would have that opportunity this young in my career. There was a drastic change in the speed of the game. The varsity defenses were so quick with their instincts and their overall speed was crazy.”
While Farina, who wore No. 11 on JV, will get the start for the Thunder (3-3) at Centennial (5-1) this week, don’t be surprised if both quarterbacks get some playing time.
“We only had a couple of days to work with those guys and none of them really had a lot of game experience,” Thunder coach Dan Hinds said. “We had a whole week to regroup, get these guys some opportunities in practice, and get them ready for this week.”
Quarterback coach Don Rezac said both players bring different attributes to the huddle for the Thunder.
“We have two guys who do certain things well,” Rezac said after the game. “We are going to find the best combination we can to help this football team.
“In Brendon — who is a senior who has a little more experience, and has been under the lights before — he probably has a little more field command right now. In Alex we have a very smart, young quarterback who throws the ball well, but because of his lack of experience can get confused on his coverages.”
Smith, who is bigger at 6-foot-2 and 185 pounds, helped the Thunder to two first half field goals against the Pride, but neither quarterback was able to put together lengthy drives.
Smith was 1 for 1 passing for 17 yards with nine carries for 36 yards with a lost fumble, while Farina was 3 for 11 for 40 yards and three interceptions and a lost fumble.
The Pride defense stuffed the box last week and took advantage of the situation while getting five total turnovers and a handful of sacks.
The 6-0, 180-pound Farina knows Centennial has similar quickness and speed waiting for them this week, but expects to grow from last week’s experience.
“Even though my performance wasn’t the best I was proud of myself for stepping up in a game like that with all of that surrounding it.”
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