A furious comeback by Palm Springs wasn't enough, as Desert Vista emerged victorious over the Indians, 44-34, on Friday night in Ahwatukee.
There's been a lot of excitement surrounding this Thunder team, especially taking into account the returning starters such as senior quarterback Parker Navarro, running back brothers Tyson (senior) and Devon (sophomore) Grubbs and senior wide receiver Elijah Ervin. All four made an impact on Friday night.
This game started off as most would have expected, as Navarro connected with Ervin for an electric 80-yard touchdown pass to open the game. It was Navarro's first of three touchdowns in the first half. Two more scores by Tyson Grubbs on the ground allowed the Thunder to score 37 first-half points.
“We came out in the first half and the offense was clicking very well,” Desert Vista head coach Dan Hinds said. “Of course we’re going to probably see mistakes and we always do in the first game.
Those mistakes were made visible in the second half.
Palm Springs quarterback Isaiah Goad managed to throw for two first-half touchdowns, but Desert Vista held a comfortable lead in heading into halftime. It all but appeared Desert Vista would run away in the final two quarters, but that wasn't the case.
Mistake after mistake led to a valiant comeback effort by Palm Springs. At one point in the fourth quarter, the Indians trimmed Desert Vista's lead to just three points.
“We have a lot of young kids and they got overwhelmed at the beginning of the game," Palm Springs coach Dan Murphy said. "We made some adjustments (in the second half) and told the kids you got two choices, ‘you can fold the tent or come out here and battle for another two quarters and that’s what they did.’”
Goad came out in the second half and threw for another two touchdowns. Backup quarterback Christian Kretz came in for a drive and threw for a 24-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Mikiyah Jackson to help spur the comeback. But it was the defense that really stepped up its game.
The Indians' defense shut out Desert Vista in the third quarter, intercepted Navarro and blocked a field goal. The Thunder did not score until 1:21 left in the fourth quarter when Tyson Grubbs punched in his third touchdown of the game to extend Desert Vista’s lead to 9 points.
Navarro finished with 277 passing yards and three touchdowns, while the Grubbs brothers combined for 205 rushing yards and three touchdowns.
“The Grubbs brothers did a real good job," Hinds said. “Overall, our offensive line did a great job protecting our quarterback and creating some seams for our backs to run through.”
Desert Vista (1-0) will travel to San Diego next week to take on Notre Dame (Sherman Oaks, Calif.) in the Honor Bowl. Overall, Hinds wants to see improvement in the form of hydration to avoid cramps as the season progresses.
“We had a lot of guys cramping up," Hinds said. "The heat played a little factor and we learned tonight that we need to hydrate a little better. We did some good things tonight, but obviously we got some things to work on.”