Matt Smith and his fellow defensive backs tried to be subtle about it.

They put their helmets back on, stood in the Desert Vista coaching staff's line of vision and did everything but run back on the field in the fourth quarter of the Thunder's game last week.

Mesa was driving and threatening to score. The defense wanted its second straight shutout to begin the year. The second team was doing its best.

"We made sure the coaches could see us," Smith said. "It would've been cool to keep it going, but we can just start another one."

Mesa eventually found the end zone in the Thunder's 38-6 win. Through two games, those are the only points Desert Vista has allowed.

The Thunder are guaranteed to secure a shutout this week with a bye week heading into the Ahwatukee Memorial Bowl next week.

The offense has been pretty smooth - with Kaleb Germinaro running past everyone and Mike Arredondo running defenders over - in helping the Thunder get to 2-0, but the defense has been really impressive.

Shutting out Phoenix Maryvale is one thing, but Mesa is another. What the Jackrabbits lack in size and depth, they play hard for coach Kelley Moore and seemingly never give in to a situation.

"Mesa is a tough, well-coached team and we did a good job of containing them," senior defensive end J.J. Dielman said. "It would have been nice to get another goose egg on the board, but the second team played hard."

It is just two games, but the defense is playing with an intensity and a trust that allows the players to play free and easy.

"We know everyone is going to do their assignment and we don't have to worry about anyone else," Dielman said. "It allows you to go 100 percent because you know everyone is going to do their job."

Maryvale rarely crossed the 50-yard line, if at all, and Mesa didn't cross the DV 40-yard line against the first team.

"We picked up the intensity on defense and (the fact) we all hang out together off the field translates on the field," said Smith, who is starting at cornerback for the second straight year. "It started during the summer and has just continued into the season."

The defensive line has Dielman and junior Lorenzo Melvin as the ends with junior Zach Tamburo and senior Ryan Hawkinson at tackle.

The linebackers are Arredondo in the middle with Austin Mclennan and Jordan Pogue flanking him on the outside.

The defensive backfield is led by Smith with senior Ryan Wagner at the other corner. Senior Chandler Kimball and junior Nick Farina are the safeties.

"It's a little different this year because we don't have to worry about anyone," Smith said. "There were a couple of spots last year that weren't as strong as this year when it comes to discipline."

It is definitely working in the Thunder's favor.

In two games Desert Vista has given up 92 yards rushing on 59 attempts and 103 yards passing on 12 completions (19 attempts).

The Thunder have forced eight turnovers (five fumbles and three interceptions) and have recorded eight sacks.

The schedule is going to get tougher - starting with the Tukee Bowl - but it is clear the defense has the confidence to play well regardless of who is in front of them.

"We expect to keep this up the rest of the way," Dielman said. "We are not going to shut everyone out, but our level of play is going to stay where it is at or get even better."

• Contact writer: (480) 898-7915 or Follow him on Twitter @JskodaAFN.

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