That was easy.

At times, it was almost too easy for the Desert Vista football team during Friday night's 56-0 win against Dobson.

Then again, it could have been just what the Thunder needed.

A game that figured to be closely contested got out of hand in the second quarter, and when junior Austin Hicks returned the second-half kickoff 68 yards for a touchdown, the Thunder led 28-0, mass substitutions began and a few laughs were enjoyed the rest of the way.

Chandler looms for the Thunder (8-1) to conclude the regular season next week, a battle for both playoff seeding and momentum before the playoffs.

While Dobson still had a mathematical chance at the playoffs before this loss, Desert Vista wanted to continue momentum towards next week and beyond. With a shutout on defense and five different players who scored, including the first two touchdowns of Hicks' varsity football career, the Thunder kept the part of championship contender.

"This team plays with tunnel vision," Thunder coach Dan Hinds said. "They haven't looked past anyone all year."

Though effective, it wasn't Desert Vista's patented "fly sweep" that caused the most problems for Dobson. It was the passing game and a couple early fourth-down conversion attempts gone awry for the Mustangs.

After a slow start, Rodriguez found protection and his outside receivers with ease. He connected twice with Matt Geranen in the second quarter for easy pitch-and-catch touchdowns, the last of which came with a minute left before halftime to give Desert Vista a 21-0 lead at intermission.

Rodriguez finished 9-of-14 passing for 161 yards and the two scores. Six different receivers caught passes.

Dobson held the Thunder's rushing game without any huge gains most of the night, but despite a couple TJ Thomas runs (113 yards on 22 carries) the Mustangs couldn't generate their own offense.

With the game all but out of reach, Thomas (named the school's Homecoming king at halftime) suffered an ankle injury in the third quarter and didn't return. He had to be helped off the field and later wore ice packs as he hobbled around afterward.

Before then, Dobson went for fourth down twice in the first half, and had a fake punt negated on an illegal procedure penalty that drew the ire of Dobson coach Alex Jacobson.

Still, with a bevy of his players emotional near midfield having played their last home game, he was matter-of-fact afterwards in all that went wrong, especially the first-half chances to keep the ball that went awry.

"We're better than we showed tonight," he said.

He also credited Desert Vista, which didn't do much of anything wrong, outside a couple nicked up players and a couple negative-yardage runs.

Besides Hicks' two touchdowns, Jarek Hilgers ran 90 yards for another score late in the game and Mike Arredondo had 85 yards rushing and two touchdowns.

The Wolves whipped Gilbert on Friday night to set up next week's big regular-season finale, and while Desert Vista knows what it's about to collide with next week and beyond, the Thunder are unfazed by the challenge.

"I'm excited to go against that defense," Rodriguez said. "It'll make us take it up a notch."


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