Limp or leap.

It was the question that was posed to the Desert Vista football team heading into Week 10 as the third-ranked Thunder hosted No. 5 Chandler.

How did they want to enter the postseason? With a limp or with a leap forward.

While the Thunder lost a few more defensive players due to injury to limp just a bit, Desert Vista took a gigantic lunge to secure the third spot in the Division I postseason with a 38-31 win over Chandler at Thunder Stadium.

“We finished exactly where we wanted to,” said Desert Vista coach Dan Hinds, whose team is the No. 3 seed, and thus, on the opposite side of the bracket from three-time defending big-school champion Chandler Hamilton.

The game was fast fun and played at a frantic pace as the two squads combined for more than 900 yards with just one turnover and a handful of punts.

The Wolves (7-3) had a chance to tie it late, taking over on their own 42 with just under three minutes and three time outs remaining. Desert Vista’s defense was tiring and didn’t show much of a pass rush all game, but secured sacks, one by JJ Dielman and the other by Nick Farina, on the first two plays of the drive to force the Wolves to burn timeouts.

Chandler eventually got the first down, but turned it over on downs four plays later when Chandler quarterback Darell Garretson was stopped on a fourth-and-2.

“I didn’t come through for my teammates at the end,” said Garretson, who finished 15 of 21 for 208 yards and an interception. “The running game as great all night, but I didn’t get there. Now, instead of knowing we were going to get a top four seed we have to wait and see how far we fall.”

The Wolves slipped down to the ninth seed and travel to Avondale to take on Westview next week.

Desert Vista (9-1) will host No. 14 North Canyon.

The game was an up and down the field affair as Chandler’s Paul Perkins ran 26 times for 268 yards and four touchdowns, while teammate Javon Williams had nine catches and 154 yards.

But it was Desert Vista that was the team out front most of the game as the Thunder went to the air with Chandler packing the box with defenders.

“We loaded up against the run and if they were going to beat us it was going to have to come over the top,” Chandler coach Shaun Aguano said. “And that’s what we did so we have some adjustments to make.”

Thunder quarterback Hunter Rodriguez had some fun as the big left-hander completed 16 of 22 passes for 256 yards and four touchdowns.

He found Matt Geranen (4 catches for 74 yards) twice for touchdowns, and added scoring throws to Matt Smith - who left with a left high ankle sprain - and Kaleb Germinaro.

The player of the game for Desert Vista might have been Farina as the junior safety had an interception inside the Thunder’s red zone, had the late sack and sniffed out a fake punt on fourth-and-2 when he tackled Chandler’s LaRon Tarkington.

“I saw them run the same play in the JV game so I kind of had a feeling it was coming,” Farina said of the stop on the fourth down that led directly to a 17-7 lead.

Farina said it was important to send out the 35 seniors with a home win in their last regular season game.

“They’ve earned that right,” he said. “We were focused on Chandler, getting the win and let the playoff stuff take care of itself.”

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

Box score

Desert Vista 38, Chandler 31

Chandler    7       7    3   14-31

D. Vista     10      7   14    7-38



  Visitor Home
First downs 23 19
Rushes-yards 38-305 31-100
Passing yards 247 256
Comp-Att-Int 16-22-247 16-22-0
Fumbles-lost 0-0 0-0
Penalties-yards 9-90 5-35

Scoring summary

C - Perkins 5 run (Vega kick), 7-0.
DV - Matt Smith 34 pass from Rodriguez (Goldfein kick), 4:20
DV - Goldfein 38 field goal, 1:16
DV - Geranen 37 pass from Rodriguez (Goldfein kick), 10:15
C - Perkins 48 run (Vega kick), 8:45
DV - Arredondo 1 run (kick failed), 9:05
C- Vega 25 field goal, 5:58
SV - Geranen 16 pass from Rodriguez (Arredondo run), 1:45
C - Perkins 2 run (Vega kick), 11:47
DV - Germinaro 34 pass from Rodriguez (Goldfein kick), 6:11
C - Perkins 1 run (Vega kick), 3:52


Desert Vista (9-1) and Chandler (7-3) put on an offensive showcase with the Thunder coming away with a 38-31 battle that essentially determined the third seed in the Division I postseason.


The offenses off both teams combined for 908 yards with the Wolves going for 552 in the losing cause.

Player of the game

Chandler's Paul Perkins carried it 26 times for 268 yards and four touchdowns in the losing call.

Key stat

Desert Vista (9-1) and Chandler (7-3) put on an offensive showcase with the Thunder coming away with a 38-31 battle that essentially determined the third seed in the Division I postseason.

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.