As Centennial piled up yards and tacked on more first down on Friday night, Dan Hinds put his hands on his knees and lowered his head.

It wasn’t in shame.

The Thunder never gave their coach any reason to be embarrassed or angry for any reason other than play on the field.

The Desert Vista players never gave into temptation or showed any signs of resignation.

It was a point of pride for Hinds in the midst of a not so pretty 33-16 loss to the Coyotes.

“They finished the game respectfully, and that’s what I wanted to see,” Hinds said. “We were down (mentally) and it could have gotten ugly. The boys didn’t let it get to that point.”

It also goes a long way in understanding the relationship between the players and the coaching staff at Desert Vista. The players weren’t about to do something stupid – fighting, cheap shots, etc. – that would reflect badly on the program.

“We weren’t going to embarrass our coaches,” senior linebacker/kicker Garrison Schwartz said. “We played a terrible game, but it doesn’t do any good to make worse by doing something stupid.”

(EDITOR’S NOTE: DV was flagged for unsportsmanlike in the fourth quarter but it was because the side judge thought a player swore at him, but several witness heard the exchange and all that was said was “You’ve got to be kidding me”).

The loss dropped the Thunder to 3-4. It’s the first time Desert Vista has had a losing record this late in the season since the 2-8 campaign of 2009. That year didn’t end well as infighting and bad attitudes tore at the fabric of the program.

It was quickly squashed the following season and not just because the Thunder won 10 games, but because the character issues were extinguished soon thereafter by the returning players.

This year’s groups is following that guideline and Hinds will back them by giving them every chance to make a push from one of the final playoff spots instead of turning the season completely over to the underclassmen.

Desert Vista will be the favorite in the next two games (Dobson and Corona del Sol) and could sneak into the postseason with a win over Brophy to close out the year at 6-4.

It isn’t assured by any means, but because it is a possibility – the Thunder entered this week at No. 14 - the seniors wouldn’t have it any other way.

Desert Vista is ready to make a push for the postseason.

“There is no other option at this point,” senior linebacker Matt Trujillo said. “We can win these games and we are capable of winning every single one of them. We are just focused on finishing strong and playing for each other.”

Trujillo said the team won’t be giving into the disappointment thus far.

“A big part of that is our character building,” Trujillo said. “Character matters and the coaches really stress that. It’s has an impact on my life. We can’t turn on each other. Each and everyone one of is capable of making plays. We know that. Until then we have to be strong, take pride in yourself and finish strong.

“It’s just character when it comes down to it.”

Hinds has developed a comfort level in his 12th season that allows him to focus on something like character or relationships when things aren’t running smoothly instead of going berserk.

“I think we can do it and I know our boys believe it when I look into their eyes,” he said. “You didn’t see anybody quit and do something dumb that cost us. It’s a great challenge and I know we are up for it.”

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

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