From a cracked skull to cracking open the record books.
Not a bad turnaround for Jarek Hilgers.
Hilgers set a Desert Vista school record for rushing yards in a single game Friday as he rolled up 285 yards on 21 carries in the Thuder's 56-35 win over Division III power Saguaro.
(Team statistician James Snow had Hilgers for 22 carries and 269 yards, which would fall short of the 277 by Chris Brogdon set in 2004 against Yuma).
It came a month after Hilgers had to leave the Mountain Pointe game with blood streaming down his face before getting 12 staples in his head.
"I just had great blocks like we have all year from our offensive line, they played a great game, the quarterback and other backs and receivers also help make it easy," Hilgers said.
Hilgers scored four touchdowns on runs of 8, 1, 12 and 48 yards as he helped make sure they didn't have to have a game-winning FG like last year's meeting with the Sabercats.
Hilgers had 183 yards in the first half alone on 15 rushes with big yardage coming on a 860yard run as he broke free and was not dragged down until the 4-yard line.
"We know what Jarek can do, we found out what can happen earlier in the season when he was not in the game," Desert Vista coach Dan HInds said, referring to missing the second half against Mountain Pointe.
The Thunder won the battle of the defending state champions with Desert Vista now 5-1 in Division I and the Sabercats now 4-2 in Division lll.
The Thunder stunned Saguaro building a 35-7 cushion at halftime. However, Hinds knew that the Sabercats, who have won the state title the last two years and five of the last six, would battle back and they did.
"Saguaro is a talented football team, they made some adjustments and came back strong," Hinds said. "They loaded the box and that got our passing game going which opened things up."
Thunder quarterback Matt Young took advantage as he connected on 11 of 14 passes for 162 yards with no interceptions and threw a pair of touchdown passes, one to Kaleb Germinaro for 51 yards and the other Anthony Reaves for 3 yards.
In a loss Saguaro had an outstandimng effort from their signal caller Luke Rubenzer who had three touchdown passes and had 440 total yards of offense.
He was 18 of 31 passing for 297 yards throwing a pair of TD strikes to Cameron Koutsales of 28 and 36 yards and one for 68 yards to sophomore Christian Kirk. Rubenzer had 143 yards on the ground.
Desert Vista set the tone early as Jason King took the opening kickoff of the game and returned it 32 yards to the Thunder 45.
After six plays, all rushing, Hilgers did the scoring honors on an 8-yard run. Saguaro drove to the Desert Vista 10-yard line before the Thunder interior line, like it has all year, got stingy and turned them back.
The Thunder defense got into the act when senior safety Nick Farina had a pick six as he intercepted a pass and weaved in and out down the field for a 76-yard TD changing the momentum giving the Thunder a 42-14 lead.
"We watched film and I saw that one develop, it was a good feeling, I great some great blocks and just took it to the house," Farina said who had a rushing TD called back on a penalty in the first half.
Saguaro showed once again its elite talent can hang with a DI power, but didn't have enough to get over the top.
"We dug a hole in the first half, you have two choices at halftime and they made the right one and battled back and showed character," Saguaro coach Jason Mohns said. "We wanted to throw the first punch, but instead we got hit first. But we showed the rest of the state that we can play with anybody in the state, even the Division I schools as we outscored them 28-21 in the second half."
Saguaro plans on repeating last year's second half of the season.
"Desert Vista beat us last year and we came back and won the state championship, this has to be it for losing, we have to take the rest of the games to the house and we can win it again this year," Saguaro lineman Devin Brunatti said.
Zipsie is a Phoenix based freelancer.
Desert Vista 56
Saguaro 7 0 14 14 35
Desert Vista 21 14 7 14 56
DV- Hilgers 8 run (Pietenik kick)
DV- Gonzalez 4 run (kick blocked)
S - Kirk 68 pass from Rubenzer (Ball kick)
DV- Germinaro 51 pass from Young (Hilgers run)
DV - Hilgers 1 run (Pietenik kick)
DV- Reaves 3 pass from Young (Pietenik kick)
S - Koutsales 28 pass from Rubenzer (Ball kick)
DV- Farina 76 yard interception return (Pietenik kick)
S- Koutsales 36 pass from Rubenzer (Ball kick)
S- Robinson 12 run (Ball kick)
DV- Hilgers 12 run (Pietenik kick)
S- Adams 6 run (Ball kick)
DV- Hilgers 48 run (Pietenik kick)
First Downs- S 17, DV 18
Rushes-Yards - S 33-320, DV 44-373
Passing Yards - S 297, DV 162
Comp-Att-Int - S 18-31-2, DV 11-14-0
Fumbles-Lost - S 1-0, DV 1-0
Penalties-Yards S 8-55, DV 11-120