Desert Vista head coach Dan Hinds has been focused on cleaning up mistakes for the first four weeks of his team’s season. Friday night at Phoenix College, the Thunder regressed in some of those areas, but they were able to grind out a 17-14 win over Brophy.
Hinds had a feeling the game would be as close and physical, and it was. Despite its now 1-4 record, Brophy has been competitive in its last four games.
“It was a grind,” Hinds said. “They made it a grind and we made it a grind too with some mistakes we made. We’ve just got to continue to try and fix those things.”
Desert Vista got the scoring started with under two minutes left in the second quarter, hitting a field goal to make it 3-0. Brophy finally broke the touchdown drought just 33 seconds later as Donovan Arthur hauled in a screen pass and scampered 52 yards for the score.
Through one quarter of an ugly affair, the Broncos led 7-3.
Early in the second quarter was where Desert Vista finally found its offensive rhythm. Derek Kline and company chewed up yards on screens and dump-offs, making big plays and drawing penalties until they reached the red zone.
Kline capped off a quality drive with a strike to tight end James Stagg from 3 yards out, putting the Thunder on top 10-7 with 9:58 left in the second quarter.
At the half, Desert Vista led 10-7 as tension started to build and things got chippy. Personal fouls were assessed for a scrum near midfield after the halftime whistle and both teams remained hard-nosed for the remainder of the game.
An interception by Clay Sokol in the middle of the third sparked the Thunder offense once again. Kline took the field and soon after found his favorite target, Jake White, streaking up the sideline for a 32-yard touchdown.
Both touchdown drives were a microcosm of Desert Vista’s potential, but overall the game was sloppy and riddled with mistakes for the Thunder — particularly on the offensive end. Kline said this type of regression shouldn’t happen going forward.
“We kind of went back to those bad habits this week,” Kline said. “For next week against Dobson we’ve just got to clean up that stuff.”
Brophy would rally in the fourth quarter as John-Anthony Gonzalez took a 44-yard pass to paydirt and brought the Broncos within three. After Desert Vista turned it over on downs, Brophy had one final drive to tie or take the lead.
Multiple avoidable penalties by the Thunder and big plays by the Broncos resulted in a red zone trip in the game’s waning moments. A sack and penalty pushed Brophy back, so its final chance in the game rested on the foot of kicker Jackson Garcia.
His attempt to tie the game was well short. Desert Vista picked up the first down it needed, ran out the clock and ran away with a narrow victory to move to 3-1.
Hinds said facing a team like Brophy will be valuable down the road. This game showcased the mistakes that can no longer happen for the Thunder, while also giving them an opportunity to face a team that likes to bring the pressure.
“These guys had a really nice blitz package, so we’re going to spend some time in the blitz pickup period this week,” Hinds said. “They had a good scheme, so we’ll just keep repping those things and getting better at it.”
Next up for Desert Vista is a date with Dobson. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. next Friday at Desert Vista high school.