The first five games of the Desert Vista football season have seemingly come without the Thunder having to exert much energy.

The five wins have been by an average margin of victory of 42 points. That's 237 points to 27. It averages out a 47.4 to 5.4 each week.

The first team on either side of the ball hasn't played a full four quarters with the caveat that the Mountain Pointe game, a 24-0 win, was shortened to less than three full quarters because of lightning.

"We've played really well, but it is one of those things where we want to keep improving each week," Desert Vista coach Dan Hinds said. "The team understands that we can still get better and make adjustments."

The only hiccup is the schedule as the five opponents have a combined winning percentage of .240. Those five teams have six total wins, but that is about to change.

The next two opponents have combined for eight.

Eight state championships, that is, since 2006.

The Thunder travel to Saguaro on Friday in an interesting non-division battle. The Sabercats, a Division III program, are 5-0, and haven't been tested, but don't have the roster size, quality of depth or physical size of Desert Vista.

But Saguaro, which won four of the last five Class 4A Division I state titles, might have the ultimate trump card in possibly the state's most explosive player in DJ Foster.

A week later Desert Vista hosts Hamilton, the three-time defending big-school state champion.

The Huskies are in the midst of the Arizona big-school record of 45 straight wins as they prepare for Chandler next week, a quality program, but one that has never beaten Hamilton.

In other words, the talent level on the other side of the ball is about to crank up a few notches.

While the Thunder recognize the challenge ahead, they are hardly fretting it.

"We are ready to prove to everyone that we are the next state championship team," senior two-way linemen J.J. Dielman. "We will get that chance the next two weeks. We are getting better every week and we just have to keep getting better."

The Thunder's level of play this season shouldn't be a surprise considering there are 35 seniors wanting leave their mark on the program after getting a taste of success last year by advancing to the Class 5A Division I semifinals before losing to Desert Ridge.

The difference this season is a newfound discipline. The defensive is staying home, sticking with their assignment. Some of the dumb penalties, especially the personal fouls, of last season have been eliminated.

It is one of the reasons Desert Vista is gaining momentum as one of the darkhorses in Division I and one of the few teams, along with Basha, remaining on Hamilton's schedule expected to test the Huskies.

"We are looking forward to the challenges," Hinds said. "Here we go. It should be fun."

On Friday the Thunder's defense was its usual lockdown unit as Desert Vista pounded Corona del Sol, which won three of its first four games, in a 49-14 win.

The Thunder offense, however, showed a new side - just in time for game film exchange - as Hunter Rodriguez threw a season-high 22 passes after coming in with only 36 attempts all year. The big left-hander might have had his best game of his career as he completed 19 balls for 226 yards and three touchdowns.

It was the perfect time for a breakout game by the passing game as Desert Vista prepares for its two toughest games of the year as the Thunder are playing well in every facet of the game.

That said a couple of defeats, should it come to that, wouldn't ruin the season or change the goals.

It would just refocus the Thunder in preparing for what they expect to be an extended postseason run.

"We have a lot of big games coming up, but we know there are a lot games after that, too," senior Matt Smith said. "I am glad to get into the competition. We really haven't been tested. We are ready."

Contact writer at (480) 898-7915 or Follow him on Twitter @JskodaAFN.

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