If there’s been a recurring theme to the 2009 Desert Vista football season, it’s one any head coach of any sport would love his players to buy into, well, pretty much 100 percent of the time.
No loss, at least for this year’s Thunder, has been too big to overcome.
Since the team’s shutout to open the season in Tucson, the Thunder have lost six times in the past seven weeks – a stretch that would surely cripple any other team.
But en route to a discouraging, but hardly deadly, 2-6 start, Desert Vista has played, mathematically speaking, the toughest schedule in the state. The way the state power rankings are set up, the Thunder’s harsh Fiesta Regions slate, coupled with a mid-season win over playoff-bound Phoenix St. Mary’s and near-misses against Phoenix Pinnacle (7-1 overall) and rival Mountain Pointe (8-0), and the Thunder still control their own destiny.
“I’m not one for calling things moral victories,” Desert Vista coach Dan Hinds said. “But there was enough that happened to us this season ... And we know we’re good enough to still have a chance.”
Broken down even further, the Thunder have a strong shot to be playoff bound themselves with just one win in their final two games.
Entering tonight’s matchup with Phoenix Brophy, Desert Vista quarterback Cody Sokol said that after coming up just seconds short of taking down Chandler last week – the Wolves scored the game-winner with two seconds left on the clock – the Thunder feel like they have new life. Their season, Sokol explains, has a new beginning, starting at home tonight.
“We’ve had so many bad events that have taken place this season,” said Sokol, who returned to action last week to throw a pair of touchdown passes after fracturing a bone in his right foot in week three against Mountain Pointe. “It’s almost like we’re supposed to make it. We should be out of it, but we’re not. It’s like we’re supposed to get to the playoffs and show people what we can do.”
And while Sokol is fine with other teams taking the Thunder lightly – “We know what we’re capable of,” he says – the senior is also quite aware of what his team is going up against.
Sure Brophy has lost twice this season, but both those losses went down to the wire against Peoria Centennial – ranked in the top five in the entire nation once again this week – and Chandler Hamilton, the defending Arizona Class 5A-I state champs.
As if the Thunder needed more motivation than a playoff berth, a win Friday night would also keep Desert Vista from ending the 2009 season winless at home. Losses to Pinnacle, Mountain Pointe Hamilton and Corona del Sol have put the Thunder at 0-4 at Thunder stadium so far this season.