Consider it team unity. Or maybe it is the maturation process. It could even be both with a little swagger mixed in.
Whatever the case Desert Vista is playing winning football.
For a program as proud as the Thunder that should be the norm, but considering the debacle that was last season, they are feeling awfully good about things these days.
Those good thoughts were reinforced Friday when Desert Vista dominated Mesa in the second half for a 31-10 victory in Fiesta Region action.
"We have composure and confidence this year," senior captain Sean Coffinger said. "We can come out strong in the second half and finish games this year. That never happened last year. We are making a lot of progress."
The Thunder (4-2, 1-1) steamrolled Mesa (2-5, 0-3) in the second half after trailing 7-3 at the intermission. Two quick scores in the third quarter made it 17-7 and then a clocking-eating drive pinned the Jackrabbits deep to setup another score to put it away.
"They put two touchdowns on the board real quick and we are still making mistakes," Mesa coach Kelly Moore said. "We are not doing what we should be doing."
Desert Vista coach Dan Hinds knew that feeling all too well last season when Desert Vista went 2-8 without winning a game in region play.
A year later, the team has doubled its win total; won a Fiesta game and most importantly the Thunder are winning games in the second half when the final 24 minutes in 2009 were essentially a land mind.
"I watch my coaches at halftime make adjustments and the kids are listening to it, coming out and executing it," Hinds said. "You don't want to pat yourself on the back too much because there is a lot of football left. It feels a lot better this year than it did last year at this time."
The wins have come against programs that have totaled eight wins so that tempers the excitement a little, but it doesn't really matter to anyone in the Thunder locker room.
"We are a more caring team and we definitely want it more than last year," wide receiver Shaw Loomer said. "There is a completely different atmosphere in the locker room."
The win over Mesa was a pretty complete victory as all three phases of the game had a hand in it.
The offense - kick started by Dominic Kereluk's 29-yard touchdown run on the second-half opening possession - started putting together drives, including a 11-play drive that produced no points but ate more than 5 minutes off the clock before pinning Mesa on its own five on a great coffin corner punt by Eric Camarillo.
The special teams recovered a muffed Mesa punt that allowed Desert Vista to set up shop on the Jackrabbit's 10-yard line before quarterback Hunter Rodriguez's sneak on 4th and goal from the 1 gave the Thunder a 17-7 lead.
The defense had three sacks, three interceptions and two fumble recoveries. Nick Farina's interception of Mesa's Jeremy Noble and return following Camarillo's punt led to Mike Arredondo's 2-yard touchdown run.
"We are finally winning games and it is fun," said Coffinger, playing in his first game since a knee injury kept him out of three games. "We made adjustments and came out and did what we needed to do. The defense was incredible. And we responded, something we rarely did last season."
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Desert Vista 31, Mesa 10
First downs 10 12
Rushes-yards 24-105 31-127
Passing yards 59 86
Comp-Att-Int 5-12-3 10-20-0
Fumbles-lost 2-2 0-0
Penalties 5-45 6-55
Mesa 7 0 0 3—10
Desert Vista 0 3 14 14—31
M – Eyring 23 pass from Noble (Rivera kick), 1:20
DV – Geiseking 21 field goal, 3:06
DV – Kereluk 29 run (Geiseking kick), 9:34
DV – Rodriguez 1 run (Geiseking), 3:28
M – Rivera 47 field goal, 11:12
DV – Arredondo 2 run (Geiseking kick), 4:03
DV – Geranen 4 pass from Rodriguez (Geisking kick), 1:29