Navarro DV obit

Desert Vista junior quarterback Parker Navarro is one of many starters that will return next season for Desert Vista, bringing optimism for the future of the program after finishing 10-2 in 2018.

Players hugged. A few tears were shed. And Desert Vista did its last round of post-game jumping jacks.

Desert Vista, ranked outside of the playoffs in preseason, stormed to a 9-1 regular season and beat Chaparral in the first round of the 6A playoffs. The Thunder had several comeback victories in 2018, including the first win over rival Mountain Pointe in seven years.

Coach Dan Hinds said the group is among the best he has led. The players showed enthusiasm for practice and strength training dating to January.

The team’s 13-member leadership council presented the players with a list, including brotherhood and battling through adversity, that would help Desert Vista achieve its goals. None of the goals related to the score on Fridays.

“These kids came up with the criteria for success, and in that criteria, it didn’t say anything about winning games. It was everything else, that if they’d do those things, we’d be successful,” he said.

Desert Vista players wore shirts throughout the season with a simple motto: “Prove’em wrong.” Following a 5-5 2017, the Thunder believed opponents were underestimating them, circling DV games on the schedule as easy wins.

Senior corner Kaleo Bright, who kissed the Thunderbolt at the 50-yard-line after his final game, said he believed the group showcased its collective skill.

“We did prove’em wrong. It’s written in our locker room and we slap it on the way out. And, even if we lost, I’m so proud of this team because we accomplished what we set out to do,” Bright said.

Desert Vista preached brotherhood, and that bolstered the Thunder through difficult times. In a run-first offense behind a stout line, junior running back Tyson Grubbs averaged more than 100 rushing yards a game before suffering a season-ending injury.

His younger brother, freshman Devon Grubbs, did not have a jersey number on the varsity roster at the start the season. Along with junior Colby Humphrey, they kept the ground-and-pound going.

“I never thought I’d be starting on varsity in the playoffs. It just came to me, and I took the opportunity,” said Devon Grubbs, who rushed for 15 more yards than his older brother.

The Thunder’s seniors initially took the Perry loss hard. It ended their high school football careers. The memories will last, perhaps even longer than the bleach-blonde hair the players gave themselves before the playoffs.

“Us seniors, we were 1-9 our freshman year, and now to flip it around and go 9-1 in the regular season, it’s huge for us. And our junior class was amazing, too,” lineman Michael Lonski said.

Linebacker Armando Delgado, who battled injuries, hopes that the seniors’ contributions influence future success.

“I feel like this is a foundation year. We’ve just turned the tides for seasons to come,” Delgado said. “We’ve had a few dry seasons without playoffs or going as far as we’d like. Hopefully now we’ve given an example for all the younger guys to keep kicking butt.”

While most of the defensive and offensive lines graduate, several solid contributors will return along with many of the top offensive skill players. The three leading running backs, starting quarterback Parker Navarro and receiver Elijah Ervin all return.

“It’s going to be deadly with our backs and everyone coming back. I just want to play Perry again so we can show them what’s up with Tyson back in,” Devon Grubbs said.

“I’m excited to see what we can do next year.”

Players hugged. A few tears were shed. And Desert Vista did its last round of post-game jumping jacks.

Desert Vista, ranked outside of the playoffs in preseason, stormed to a 9-1 regular season and beat Chaparral in the first round of the 6A playoffs. The Thunder had several comeback victories in 2018, including the first win over rival Mountain Pointe in seven years.

Coach Dan Hinds said the group is among the best he has led. The players showed enthusiasm for practice and strength training dating to January.

The team’s 13-member leadership council presented the players with a list, including brotherhood and battling through adversity, that would help Desert Vista achieve its goals. None of the goals related to the score on Fridays.

“These kids came up with the criteria for success, and in that criteria, it didn’t say anything about winning games. It was everything else, that if they’d do those things, we’d be successful,” he said.

Desert Vista players wore shirts throughout the season with a simple motto: “Prove’em wrong.” Following a 5-5 2017, the Thunder believed opponents were underestimating them, circling DV games on the schedule as easy wins.

Senior corner Kaleo Bright, who kissed the Thunderbolt at the 50-yard-line after his final game, said he believed the group showcased its collective skill.

“We did prove’em wrong. It’s written in our locker room and we slap it on the way out. And, even if we lost, I’m so proud of this team because we accomplished what we set out to do,” Bright said.

Desert Vista preached brotherhood, and that bolstered the Thunder through difficult times. In a run-first offense behind a stout line, junior running back Tyson Grubbs averaged more than 100 rushing yards a game before suffering a season-ending injury.

His younger brother, freshman Devon Grubbs, did not have a jersey number on the varsity roster at the start the season. Along with junior Colby Humphrey, they kept the ground-and-pound going.

“I never thought I’d be starting on varsity in the playoffs. It just came to me, and I took the opportunity,” said Devon Grubbs, who rushed for 15 more yards than his older brother.

The Thunder’s seniors initially took the Perry loss hard. It ended their high school football careers. The memories will last, perhaps even longer than the bleach-blonde hair the players gave themselves before the playoffs.

“Us seniors, we were 1-9 our freshman year, and now to flip it around and go 9-1 in the regular season, it’s huge for us. And our junior class was amazing, too,” lineman Michael Lonski said.

Linebacker Armando Delgado, who battled injuries, hopes that the seniors’ contributions influence future success.

“I feel like this is a foundation year. We’ve just turned the tides for seasons to come,” Delgado said. “We’ve had a few dry seasons without playoffs or going as far as we’d like. Hopefully now we’ve given an example for all the younger guys to keep kicking butt.”

While the entire defensive and offensive lines graduate, several solid contributors will return along with many of the top offensive skill players. The three leading running backs, starting quarterback Parker Navarro and receiver Elijah Ervin all return.

“It’s going to be deadly with our backs and everyone coming back. I just want to play Perry again so we can show them what’s up with Tyson back in,” Devon Grubbs said.

“I’m excited to see what we can do next year.”

Contact Eric Newman at enewman@timespublications.com and follow him on twitter @enewmanwrites.

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