Desert Vista came into Friday’s matchup against Hamilton on a two-game skid, and it was certain they would need to put together one of the best performances of the year to leave victorious. The Huskies are undefeated and seem like a lock to make the Open Division playoff.
The Thunder knew what they would have to do against a high-powered Hamilton team in order to have a chance at an upset. Unfortunately, it didn’t go their way as Hamilton routed the Thunder 63-17.
Senior quarterback Nicco Marchiol and fellow senior wide receiver Christian Anaya did most of the heavy work for Hamilton on the night. After a first drive fumble that resulted in Noah Perez giving the Thunder a 3-0 lead, it was all Huskies.
Immediately following, Marchiol drove the offense down the field and found the end zone, running it in himself. From then on, the passing attack was lethal to the Thunder defense, unable to stop it for most of the game.
After getting the ball back just two minutes after their first score, Anaya scored his first touchdown of the evening on a jet sweep. A play call used often by head coach Mike Zdebski.
When asked about the game plan, Zdebski pointed to his offensive coordinator who described it as “taking what the defense gives us.”
The offensive line controlled the line of scrimmage, and Marchiol took care of the rest. Coming up with big plays when the pocket collapsed or running the ball himself, he is always a threat.
“He gets us out of jams pretty well, that’s just him being an athletic kid, that’s why he is a power-five kid going off to West Virginia,” said Zdebski.
Junior Gavin Chavez was a bright spot on defense for the Thunder, making big plays when given the opportunity – which were far and few between with the execution by Hamilton’s quarterback.
“He’s legit, he can make any throw, deep balls on the run, and can use his feet. I have a lot of respect for him,” said Chavez.
Anaya, the other factor to Hamilton’s success, had 71 receiving yards with three touchdowns. Marchiol also found running backs in the passing game for scores.
A 49-yard screen pass to Breylon Blount, who also took a 23-yard pass play to the house. And finally, Nick Switzer took a pass into the endzone from 11 yards out.
Switzer would make his own mark on the final score, as he also put up more than 100 all-purpose yards, with one rush breaking open for an 81-yard touchdown.
Desert Vista has shown the ability to put up points but coming into Friday’s game with a slew of injuries made it tough. With their top two weapons on offense missing in Devon Grubbs and Mekhi Hibbler, it forced head coach Ty Wisdom to put players in a place where they could help when needed.
“You got to have guys step up with injuries, and I thought some guys did some good stuff in the first half, but we just didn’t maintain any consistency,” Wisdom said.
The Thunder were able to get a few explosive plays to connect with Xavier Castillo making his first start. In the second half, the senior connected on an 87-yard touchdown on the final drive of the game. Thier only other score was a 15-yard touchdown run by Christian Clark, who got a lot of touches in place of Grubbs.
“Right now, it’s mental errors, I don’t care who you are playing, the good teams will make you pay, and Hamilton did that tonight,” said Wisdom.
One of the visuals on the field all night was Desert Vista losing the battle at the line of scrimmage. Getting pushed back on either side of the ball is a recipe for disaster. Chavez kept his answer short and sweet on how to fix that problem.
“Be physical right back,” said Chavez.
The Thunder return home next week to host Higley, where they’ll look to impose their physicality to attempt a comeback in the rankings.