Desert Vista defense
The Desert Vista defense receives in-game instruction during the season-opening win over Tucson. Brian Johnson/AFN

In a perfect world Desert Vista's bye week would come later in the season when all teams need to heal up, take a bit of a breather and get refreshed for the remainder of the season.

Of course there is no such thing as a perfect world and the Thunder played nowhere near that level in the season opener.

So having the second week of the season off has turned out to be a good slot in the team's schedule.

"At first we thought it would be nice to have that later in the year," said Desert Vista coach Dan Hinds, who had the same schedule last season. "But it is coming at a good time. We have some guys that need to heal up and we obviously need to work on some things."

The Thunder won the season opener, 20-15, over Tucson last week, and did so without three two-way starters while committing 14 penalties for 156 yards that nullified several key plays, including a kickoff return for a touchdown.

Penalties are going to happen the first game of the season, but there were several of the personal foul and unsportsmanlike conduct variety to really put the team in a bind.

"There is being aggressive and there is being aggressively stupid," senior wide receiver Mike Ingrassia said. "We want to play with that intensity but some of those really hurt us."

The fouls that really stuck out where the two - a holding and a personal foul - that wiped away Ingrassia's 88-yard kickoff return for a score and the two 15-yarders on the same play on Tucson's final drive in attempt to win the game.

"We are going to learn a lot from that game," Hinds said. "Some of those penalties really affected what we were trying to do. It has to stop."

What didn't stop the Thunder, and a good sign of the improving depth, was the fact they won without three main starters.

Starting tailback and linebacker Mike Arredondo, starting fullback Austin McLennan (shoulder) and sophomore lineman Zach Tamburo (Achilles tendon) all missed the game.

With the extra week off the hope is all will be back. Arredondo, who strained a ligament in his left knee in the scrimmage against Tucson Ironwood Ridge, had his mind set on returning against Phoenix Pinnacle next week.

"We will have to wait and see," Hinds said. "He wanted to play last Friday. Arredondo is a special young man and he wants to play. He is attacking the physical therapy the way he approaches everything else.

"When he met with the therapist, he asked Mike when he wanted to be back and he said, Tucson. The therapist asked him what was goal No. 2 and he said Pinnacle so that is what we are shooting for."

The missing parts, however, led some younger players to get some playing time they might not have received otherwise.

Sophomore running back Zack Gonzalez showed plenty of promise in his time, rushing for 34 yards on three carries, including Desert Vista's first touchdown on the year with an impressive 25-yard burst that showed speed and power.

"We called him up and he made some nice plays, some strong runs," Hinds said. "I was real proud of him."

With no game this week, practice shapes up a little different. The Thunder, who play three road games before their next home game on Oct. 1, will be in pads early in the week, take Thursday off and have a light practice on Friday before focusing on Pinnacle Sept 10.

"We have two weeks to get things straightened out and learn from our mistakes," Hinds said. "We did some good things, too, and we can build off."

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