At this point of the season, being in control of your own destiny is a great scenario to come by.
That is the case for Desert Ridge.
“It shows we can play a little football,” Jaguars coach Jeremy Hathcock said. “When you start with so many young kids, seeing these guys mature has been special.”
The Jaguars (8-1, 4-0) inched closer to a 6A Central region title after defeating Desert Vista 35-7 on senior night.
Knowing what is at stake with wins to finish the season, the Jaguars wasted little time jumping out in front of the Thunder (5-4, 1-3).
Early in the first quarter quarterback Cooper Schmidt (13 carries, 172 yards) made an excellent read on the Desert Vista defense, rushing up the middle for a 78-yard touchdown to make it 7-0.
“We worked on (the read option) all week to get better and better,” Schmidt said. “We saw the outcome tonight and that’s what helped.”
From there, both defensive units went to work, forcing a trade-off in punts for both teams throughout the first quarter.
It wasn’t until the second quarter that the Jaguars offense found a rhythm, with Lucas Wright catching a 26-yard pass from Matt Purnell to extend the Jaguars lead.
“I’ve been getting a chance with the ball a little more,” Wright said. “I just want to make plays and give all my effort.”
Wright, who has averaged 8.7 yards per carry as of late, remained explosive out of the backfield for Desert Ridge, rushing for 91 yards and adding two more touchdowns along the way.
With the Jaguars offense in rhythm, the defense remained dominant, not relinquishing any points to the Thunder offense and shutting down stand-out quarterback Derek Kline (6-20 66 yards).
Desert Vista’s lone score of the game came on a Desert Ridge fumble deep in their own territory, which was picked up and returned nine yards for the Thunder touchdown by defensive end Tyler Roberts.
The points for Desert Vista came on Desert Ridge’s only turnover on the night.
“If we could have a turnover-free game I would be so thrilled,” Hathcock said. “Our passing game looked alright tonight and our running game was great. They’re physical, Desert Vista is a good football team.”
Despite the hiccup on offense, the Jaguars played as close to a perfect game as it gets when facing a quality opponent. It also remains much sweeter when it comes on a night honoring the senior class.
“They’re all like my sons, I love them all,” Hathcock said. “We are just a real tight-knit group. I know they all may not have the role that they want but they understand that brotherhood comes first.”
Despite the final regular season home game now behind them, the Jaguars will have more opportunities to create special memories on their home field in the playoffs.
Currently sitting second in the AIA rankings, the Jaguars could potentially make a push for the number one overall seed in 6A with a win over Highland (6-2, 3-1) next week.
Although, with the Hawks having one of their best seasons in years and what coach Hathcock calls potentially the biggest linebackers in the state, the Jaguars will enjoy the win tonight and remain focused for next week.
“It feels good to get this one for the seniors,” Wright said. “Now we just have to move on to next week and get the win.”
– Zach Alvira is a freelance writer for MyNewsMesa.com.
Desert Ridge 35, Desert Vista 7
DR 7 14 0 14 – 35
DV 0 7 0 0 – 7
DR – Schmidt 78 run (Stephens kick), 11:10
DV – Tyler Robert fumble recovery 9 yards (Lewis kick), 11:11
DR – Purnell 26 pass to Wright (Stephens kick), 6:03
DR – Wright 19 run (Stephens kick), 1:24
DR – Wright 26 run (Stephens kick), 11:30
DR – Purnell 19 pass to Bethel (Stephens kick), 9:41
First downs 16 11
Rush-yards 42-327 30-86
Comp-Att-Int 8-10-0 6-20-1
Pass yard 94 66
Total yards 421 152
Fumbles/lost 1/1 1/1
Penalties 6-75 4-20
DR – Allen 4-16, Wright 14-91, Schmidt 13-172, Purnell 3-16, Elliott 3-7, Salazar 5-25; DV – Huddleston 6-14, Moreno 1-4, Kline 11-1, Grubbs 6-15, Garcia 6-52
DR – Purnell 5-7-87-0, Schmidt 3-3-7-0; DV – Kline 6-20-66-1
DR – Bethel 2-26, Elliott 1-2, Eastman 2-31, Lee 1-9, Wright 2-26; DV – Humphrey 1-14, Shepardson 3-34, Grubbs 1-5, Werbelow 1-13
DV – Lewis (49)