Desert Vista’s start to the football season is similar to a Ferrari owner suddenly using a low-grade gasoline after only putting high octane fuel in the tank since taking it off the lot.

There’s been a lot of sputtering, but that 3-1 record still looks good.

The Thunder enter Friday’s home game against Corona del Sol (2-2) feeling like improvement is paramount over the next couple of weeks.

“There is a little something missing,” senior offensive center Cole Preston said. “It was kind of an ugly (41-13) win (over Westwood). We are working through it.”

The truth of the matter is Desert Vista has won despite itself so far this season.

The Thunder beat Palo Verde (Nev.) in the opener despite putting the ball on the ground seven times (three lost) and nine penalties. Against Mountain Pointe, Desert Vista had five more fumbles and had a touchdown called back, among other things that contributed to the 2-point loss, while the Thunder let Westwood stick around longer than they should have, partly because of 12 penalties.

“We’re not close to playing at our full potential,” senior wide receiver Kaleb Germinaro said. “The state title game with no penalties and execution at its best was true Desert Vista football. We haven’t even come close to that.”

Corona and a lot of other teams would be ecstatic to be in Desert Vista’s situation but only the Thunder is coming off the Division I championship.

And that just might be it.

If this was 2010 when Desert Vista was coming off a two-win season there probably wouldn’t be a hint of dissatisfaction, but because many of these player hoisted the golden ball trophy last November there is a different feeling.

“It’s come to that,” Thunder coach Dan Hinds said. “The expectations out here are so high after coming off a state championship. We all know it is there. It’s kind of silly.

“We had almost 500 yards of offense and we are like what’s wrong? It’s just where we are at as a program.”

So the positive is the game — the win over Mesa was close — where the Ferrari hits a straightaway and responds to the gas pedal being pinned to the floor without hesitation is still out there.

“It’s crazy that we can have seven fumbles and still win,” Germinaro said. “We have a chance to put it all together this week. Corona always plays us tough so we are going to have to be ready. Hopefully, we are past this difficult stage of our season.”

The Thunder has played well overall so it’s a little silly to ask what’s wrong when the team is still considered among the top five in the state, but the players welcome expectations of this magnitude.

After Corona, Saguaro and Hamilton await with Chandler off in the distance in Week 10.

They will heal up in the coming weeks as offensive guard Mitch Wehrli is expected back against Corona after making his debut against the Pride and sitting out against Westwood. Jarek Hilgers, with his staples removed from his head, should be back at tailback.

They will continue to improve at the linebacker positions, a unit that began the year with all new starters, and the defense will shore up.

And still the Thunder may not play up to expectations simply because it might be unrealistic to a certain degree.

“The way we are playing right now we are not going to win a state championship, but it’s not played in September,” Germinaro said. “There isn’t any frustration. It’s just we’ve seen what we are capable of because we’ve done it in practice.

“We will take our wins (like the one against Westwood) and move on, but the expectations we have ourselves is higher because we know what we are capable of when we do play better.”

• Contact writer: (480) 898-7915 or Follow him on Twitter @JSkodaAFN.

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