Desert Vista against Centennial, in a Conference 6A football game

Desert Vista (5) is brought down by a pile of Centennial defenders, in a Conference 6A football game, Friday, September 16, 2022, at Thunder Stadium in Ahwatukee Arizona. (David Minton/Staff Photographer)

After a promising start by the Desert Vista Thunder Friday night against Centennial, the Coyotes took over and dominated.

The Thunder's early lead quickly dwindled as Centennial found momentum and carried it to a 56-14 victory. The Thunder, under first year coach Nate Gill, are still searching for their first win of the season.

The Thunder were held to a combined seven points over the first two games of the season and seemed to have found the answer on offense after junior quarterback Braxton Thomas connected with receivers Michael Allison and Roan Martinez for scores of 23-and 85 yards.

But the 14-3 lead and moment that Desert Vista held dissipated as quickly as it came from errors on special teams and penalties. 

A pair of botched punts by the Thunder coupled with unsustained drives opened up scoring opportunities for the Coyotes.

“We got to keep building and finding ways to make positive plays,” Gill said. “(We) got to stop biting ourselves. Special teams mistakes, that’s self-inflicted and something that needs to be cleaned up and can be cleaned up.”

The Thunder could not crack open the run game, which left the offense one dimensional. As the three-and-outs began to accumulate, the power of the defense began to break.

Centennial took advantage and rushed for 194 total yards, with every score coming from the ground. Kavaughn Clark was responsible for four scores alone.  

As the Thunder defense remained on the field, the Coyote yardage began to snowball into bigger gains, and Thomas acknowledged that the offense needed to step up to help the team move forward.

“We kept on shooting ourselves in the foot,” he said. “We couldn't maintain a drive and we couldn't help our defense – we kept them on the field a lot. We need to come into practice next week and focus on that.” 

Senior linebacker Antonio Delgado said the extensive field time “beats down on you” but remaining vocal and staying positive are crucial to getting past the breaking point.  

“We got on our heels, we didn't start off playing as down hill (to start the second half),” Delgado said. “When our defense has to come off the field for one or two plays and then come right back on, it takes a toll.” 

While the lopsided loss wasn’t pretty, Gill noticed that things are starting to click in the right direction and has faith moving forward.

“I think for the first 20 minutes, we can play with anybody, but the football game isn’t 20 minutes,” he said. “It’s consistency and finishing. We came out and I think we surprised those guys a little bit – threw a couple punches early. We have a new regime and a ton of things that haven't stuck yet, but we know we’re talented. Instead of a snowball effect going downward, let's turn it into an elevator going upward.” 

Gill expects the team to jell and start putting the pieces together as Desert Vista will host Verrado of Buckeye for its homecoming game on Sept. 23.

Have an interesting story? Contact Zach Alvira at (480)898-5630 or Follow him on Twitter @ZachAlvira


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