The Desert Vista "Senior Walk" tradition was conducted Thursday night as more than 30 seniors locked hands, walked the distance of the football field and back again.
They drew it out as long as possible, almost to the point of loitering, after playing the last home game of their careers.
It was about the opposite of the game itself as the outcome was hardly drawn out.
The third-seeded Thunder were in control from start to finish in a 52-7 win over No. 6 Pinnacle in the Division I quarterfinals.
"That was exactly what we wanted to do," senior Mike Arredondo said. "We came out and took control and never let up. It gave us a chance to kind of take in and enjoy our last time on this field."
Desert Vista (11-1) advances to face No. 7 Basha (9-3) at Mesquite High next Friday with a berth to the state title game on the line.
If the Thunder play as well they did against Pinnacle (9-3) they just could be playing in the championship game for second time since 2007.
They were that good.
Desert Vista never punted in racking up 444 yards of offense without punting as they scored on four of five possessions in the first half with the lone non-scoring possession being a one-play kneel down to end the half up 24-0.
"One of the major goals was to play four quarters and we emphasized it all week and they came out and did that," Desert Vista coach Dan Hinds said. "We wanted to start strong and finish strong."
The Desert Vista defense was just as ready to make sure the Thunder made their second straight semifinal as it forced five turnovers, including two first-half fumbles that led to 10 points for Desert Vista.
"We can't afford to make mistakes against team a like Desert Vista as they were really costly," Pinnacle coach Dana Zupke said. "But it probably really wouldn't have mattered because we couldn't stop them."
Pinnacle came out with a different defensive look - a 4-3 front - after playing a 3-5 nearly all season.
It forced Desert Vista quarterback Hunter Rodriguez to make a lot of reads at the line, checking to plays and the senior put the offense in the right spot time after time.
The Thunder rushed for 249 yards, led by Dominic Kereluk (10 carries, 84 yards, 1 TD), but it was Rodriguez's precision passing that came up with the big plays.
He completed 11 of 13 passes for 182 yards with two touchdowns while seven different players had a reception. Kaleb Germinaro (87 total yards, 2 TDs) was on one end of the receiving touchdowns and Matt Geranen (3 catches, 59 yards) had the other.
About the only downer for the Thunder was the fact that it couldn't set the school record for shutouts (4) in a season when Pinnacle scored on a 75-yard pass from Matt Mercurio to Jason Neill on a fake punt in the fourth quarter.
While technically it was the special teams that gave up the score it still wiped out the chance, but the defense still played great.
Junior Nick Farina, who had a sack, and senior Chandler Kimball had interceptions, including Kimball's 87-yard return for the final score of the game.
"It was in the back of my mind that I had to score," said Kimball, referring to the fact that he was the lone defensive back without a return for a score this season. "It was a great way to finish our last game here."
Contact writer: 480-898-7915 or JSkoda@ahwatukee.com. Follow him on Twitter @JSkodaAFN
Desert Vista 52, Pinnacle 7
P 0 0 0 7-7
DV 14 10 14 14 -52
First downs 12 21
Rushes-yards 34-85 36-249
Passing yards 174 195
Comp-Att-Int 8-19-2 12-14-0
Fumbles-lost 4-3 0-0
Penalties-yards 3-15 3-44
DV - Kereluk 8 run (Goldfein kick), 6:11.
DV - Hilgers 11 run (Goldfein kick), 2:26.
DV - Germinaro 22 pass from Rodriguez (Goldfein kick), 9:08.
DV - Goldfein 26 FG, 5:36.
DV - Germinaro 38 run (Goldfein kick), 8:36.
DV - Geranen 34 pass from Rodriguez (Geisking kick), 2:54.
P - Neill 75 pass from Mercurio (Sweet kick), 11:47.
DV - Valdez 48 kickoff return (Geisking kick), 11:37
DV - Kimball 87 INT return (Geisking kick), 4:01.
Vitals: Desert Vista (11-1) advanced to the semifinals for the second straight year with a 52-7 drubbing of No. 6 Pinnacle (9-3) in the Division I quarterfinals.
Highlight: When Pinnacle tried an onside kick, Desert Vista junior Aaron Valdez grabbed it before it went 10 yards and went 48 yards for a touchdown.
Player of the game: Desert Vista quarterback Hunter Rodriguez completed 11 of 13 passes for 182 yards and two touchdowns, including 8 of 10 in the first half as the Thunder went up 24-0.
Key stat: The 249 yards rushing by Desert Vista moved the team into third place all-time in school history with 2,504 yards, surpassing the 2004 squad.