Whether they knew it or not, it was a bit of a test.

The Desert Vista coaching staff gave the football team off on Saturday after a difficult and unexpected loss to Corona del Sol on Thursday night.

The players found their way into the school anyway and put in film work while also playing some dodge ball in the gym before most of them went to senior Anthony Abbadessa’s house to watch some college football.

“We are still in this together,” Thunder senior linebacker Jarrell Lister said. “As seniors this is our last home game, but it doesn’t have to be our last game. We are still playing for the playoffs.”

Hinds was glad to see the effort was made and that one of the season’s pillars is still in place.

“It proves these kids still believe which is one of our four pillars,” Hinds said. “If they didn’t they would have taken that time off. Instead, they came in and did some team bonding, watched film, and did something to make them better instead of walking away.”

Whether or not it leads to a season-ending win for the Thunder (4-5) against Brophy (3-5) won’t be known until Friday night, but there is certainly something to play for in Week 10.

Desert Vista is No. 17 in the power rankings and the Broncos are No. 15 so it is assumed the winner of this game secures a spot in the 16-team Division I playoff field.

“It’s not over yet,” Hinds said. “If we get in, the message is it doesn’t matter what we did in the regular season. It’s doesn’t matter that (their first-round opponent) is undefeated or what our record is. It’s 0-0. I hope we can get to that point because if these guys can just get a spark the talent is there to put together a good streak.”

Soon after the Thunder find out their fate, the 32 or so seniors in the program will gather in the south end zone, hold hands, and walk the length of the field together for one last moment at Thunder Stadium.

After that they will share hugs, stories and join their families before heading to the home locker room for the last time.

“It’s doesn’t matter what kind of season we have when it comes to the Senior Walk,” Hinds said. “What it comes down to is the relationships we forged over the years.

“Win, lose or draw it is an emotional time. As grown men we know this, but I don’t know if they really understand what it means to have one last time they’re all together and how special it is. It doesn’t really dawn on them until the moment or afterward.”

Senior Jason King is disappointed in how the season has gone; knowing a losing record is possible with one game left, but when it comes to what’s at stake he believes his brothers will be ready.

“We have no choice,” he said. “We win or we are done. We don’t want it to end this way. We didn’t play well in the Corona game and we can’t let that happen again.

“We came in on Saturday and to show we are still fighting for each other. That proved to me that we still believe and (the seniors) don’t want to end their careers with a loss at home.”

The Broncos have had a similar season in that a proud program has had to fight through some struggles despite having quality players. Brophy did so against possibly the toughest schedule in the state as all six defeats have come against playoff teams including state title contenders Mountain Pointe, Desert Ridge, Hamilton and Centennial (Division II).

“They are getting it going a little bit,” Hinds said. “Brophy is Brophy. They’ve played one of the toughest schedules and they’ve gotten better because of it.

“We’ve come up with a game plan and we think these guys are still invested in what we want to do to finish the season the right way.”

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

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