Desert Vista built a 31-0 halftime cushion and then emptied its bench in the second half in a 54-17 victory over Mesquite on Friday night.
Thunder coach Dan Hinds knows they need the passing game to be in form when the Thunder (6-2) get to the playoffs and begin defense of their Division l state championship.
Quarterback Matt Young was crisp as he clicked on 15 of 21 passes for 259 yards and four touchdown passes with no interceptions in just two and a half quarters of action.
Young left midway through the third quarter or he could have came close to the school record of passing yards in a game set by John Rattay in 1998 with 312 yards.
Young was 53 yards shy as he connected with Nick Farina for a pair of touchdown passes of 25 and 10 yards. He hit Kaleb Germinaro for a 44-yard strike and with Aaron Valdez for the first score of the game for 11 yards.
"First off the most important thing was getting the win after the loss last week," Young said. "Our goal was the passing game tonight and we were pretty sharp.
"A lot of guys stepped up and got open off of jams. The O-line (Cole Preston, Dylan Fischer, Sam Hartman, Mitch Wehril and Adam Ortega) are battling some injuries, but they gave me great pass protection, they have my back."
Hinds was pleased with the offense as a whole.
"Each week we get better at pass pro, (when) you give Matt some time he showed tonight what he can do," Hinds said. "They (Mesquite) stacked the box and we finished it up, we had the fly working with two big runs from Germinaro and (Richard) Haywood."
Desert Vista's Austin Hicks took the opening kickoff back 96 yards but it was called back on a holding penalty.
The Thunder responded by driving 80 yards in 10 plays as Young hooked up with Valdez for the 11-yard TD pass.
Later in the opening quarter, Young hit Germinaro in stride for a 44-yard touchdown and a 14-0 lead.
In the second quarter Ian Pletenik booted a 37-yard field goal. After Mesquite had a 2-yard punt, DV had a short field at the Wildcats' 30-yard line. Two plays later, Jarek Hilgers, who had a quiet night with 57 yards rushing on 10 carries, had a 13-yard touchdown run.
Pletenik on a fake kick on the PAT and found a wide open Anthony Reaves for the 2-point conversion pass.
Young then found Farina down the sideline for a 25-yard aerial and a 31-0 lead at the intermission.
The Thunder defense was stingy in the first half allowing only 27 yards of total offense and only nine rushing. The beefy defensive line was solid with Jalen Jelks and two-way interior line starters in Preston and Fischer.
"The defense played great, the defensive line controlled the line of scrimmage," Hinds added.
After a struggle in the first half, Mesquite had a bright spot with an impressive drive on the opening possession of the second half. The Wildcats got on the scoreboard on a 1-yard pass from Payton Haslam to Paul Perry.
"I have never been more pleased than that drive to start the second half," Mesquite coach Matt Gracey said whose team fell to 1-7. "The kids showed they never give up scoring late in the game.
"We have a young team, but I am proud of them as they battled for 48 minutes. It's been a tough year but the kids did not roll over and that could happen with a team as good as Desert Vista is."
Zipsie is a freelancer writer based in Phoenix.
Desert Vista 54
M 0 0 10 7 -17
DV 14 17 7 16 -54
First Downs: M 13, DV 20
Rushing: M 25-116, DV 27-215
Passing: M 17-36-2-115, DV 16-24-1-265
Fumbles: M 2-0, DV 0
Penalties: M 6-35, DV 12-108
DV - Valdez 11 pass from Young (kick failed)
DV - Germinaro 44 pass from Young (Hilgers run)
DV - Pietenik 37 field goal;
DV - Hilgers 13 run (Reaves pass from Pietenik)
DV - Farina 25 pass from Young (kick failed)
M - Perry 1 pass from Haslam (James kick)
DV - Farina 10 pass from Young (Pietenik kick)
M - James 34 field goal;
DV- Schwartz 32 field goal;
DV - King 39 yard interception return (Hoh kick)
DV - Haywood 41 run (kick blocked)
M - Giraldo 2 run (James kick)