The risk of winning a big game is the lingering effect.
The next game is almost always a week later. If it isn’t handled right the following game just might trump all the good gained by the win the previous week.
Desert Ridge is in that position this week, and whoever wins the Skyline-Red Mountain game tonight will need to guard against it heading into the season finale.
The Jaguars had a rousing team huddle after winning at Mountain Pointe, which was ranked No. 1 in the power rankings at the time, and boisterous bus ride back to east Mesa, but that’s about where the celebrating ended.
At least that’s the hope as Desert Ridge prepares to host Desert Vista, which is ranked No. 10 by MyNewsMesa.com and the AIA rankings.
“It was exciting, we were reminiscing the game just very happy and content with our performance,” senior cornerback Donjae Logan said about the bus ride home. “Our practices (this week) were intense and we keep trying to improve ourselves and not get content with the big win.”
The Jaguars have been impressive in moving to No. 2 in the power rankings and No. 4 in the MyNewsMesa.com rankings other than one hiccup against Hamilton.
Early on injuries kept defensive starters like Ty Miller and Apolo Ta’ase out of games, and young and inexperienced players littered the lineup.
The offense was finding an identity as the dual quarterback system worked out the kinks and waited for junior running back Lucas Wright, who averages 8.7 yards a carry and has two 100 yards games to his credit, to become a powerful between the tackles runner.
Lucas’ rise to vital piece to the team’s success is symbolic of Desert Ridge’s status as a top five team with two weeks left to play.
He was a bit of an unknown to start but now with each passing week he is getting more attention.
“Lucas’s play has been huge,” Logan said. “Tyrese (Allen) can get rested after a big run or a defensive series and we know that our offense won’t miss a beat because Lucas can carry the ball effectively.”
The biggest motivator for the Jaguars is the fact that they really haven’t clinched anything yet.
The region title and possible No. 1 seed is out there, but only if Desert Ridge wins out.
“We haven’t won a region title since 2014 so the kids are pretty excited about that,” Desert Ridge coach Jeremy Hathcock said. “Winning a region title isn’t easy in this day and age so they are motivated to go out and win it. They don’t want to share it.”
News and notes:
Desert Ridge (7-1, 3-0)
The Jaguars have thrown eight interceptions and lost nine fumbles compared the defense snagging eight interceptions and recovering five fumbles. … Logan was selected as a player of the week by the Grandy Canyon State Gridiron Club and is now a nominee for the Ed Doherty Award, which will be given to the state’s player of the year at a banquet at the end of the year. … Defensive end Desha Bennett is now up to 11 sacks and 25 QB pressures.
Last week: W, 31-20 at Mountain Pointe. This week: Desert Vista (5-3, 1-2). History (since 2004): 2-1, lost in 2016. AIA Ranking: No. 2. Last five: 5-0.
Dobson (3-5, 0-3)
Since 2004, the Mustangs have a 4-3 record against Skyline, which is the most win against any school over the time. … Dobson owns a 12-55 record within league play since 2004 and 37-37 against non-region players.
Last week: L, 49-0 Mountain View. This week: at Mesa (3-6, 1-2). History (since 2004): 3-10, four straight defeats. AIA Ranking: No. 27. Last five: 1-4.
Mesa (3-6, 1-2)
The Jackrabbits have 11 games on their schedule. The Desert Mountain game, a 51-26 loss, is the game selected prior to the season to not count in the power rankings. … Running back Kris Jackson needs 210 yards or so to break the 2,000-yard mark. … Junior Ed McClendon has five interceptions on the season.
Last week: L, 55-21 at Red Mountain. This week: Dobson (3-5, 0-3). History (since 2004): 10-3, won four straight. AIA Ranking: No. 23. Last five: 2-3.
Mountain View (4-4, 1-2)
Leading wide receiver Jacobby Dinwiddie returns to the lineup after missing last week’s game because of a “coach’s decision” while running back Dean Yamada is out one more game. … The next win for the Toros will be the 100th in the MaxPreps (2004) era. … Through four games, Brandon Nunez had two touchdown passes and four interceptions. Since then the junior has seven touchdowns and no interceptions in four games. … Kicker Kevin Ryan, in nearly perfect on the season as he is 28 of 29 on PATs and 2 for 2 on field goal attempts, is out this week.
Last week: W, 49-0 at Dobson. This week: at Westwood (4-4, 1-2). History (since 2004): 6-2, winners of six straight. AIA Ranking: No. 17. Last five: 2-3.
Red Mountain (6-2, 3-0)
The six-game win streak matches the program longest since 2004. … Red Mountain has a 42-23 record in league games since 2004 and 46-31 in non-league games. … Alex Randle (7), Gabe Williams (7) and Francis Kumi (8) has 22 of the 32 sacks on the season. … Sophomore offensive linemen Ben Bray is expected to miss another game due to injury.
Last week: W, 55-21. This week: Skyline (5-3, 3-0). History (since 2004): 7-2, playoff win ended two-game skid. AIA Ranking: No. 7. Last five: 5-0.
Skyline (5-3, 3-0)
Sophomore Zach Kriens has 73 tackles, including 35 solo, to lead the teams with no one else more than 50. … The Coyotes have rushed for at least 250 yards in the four games after two only cracking 200 twice in the first four. … The Coyotes are ranked 2,023 in the nation according to MaxPreps
Last week: Bye. This week: at Red Mountain (6-2, 3-0). History (since 2004): 2-7, lost last year’s playoff game. AIA Ranking: No. 11. Last five: 3-2.
Westwood (4-4, 1-2)
Manny Collier, who averaged 132.6 all-purpose yards a game, has done a little bit of everything, but probably has had some of his touches limited after fumbling six times this year. … Westwood has had at least six sacks in three games this season for a total of 24 including a season-high eight against Copper Canyon in Week 2. … The Warriors have a 24-47 record in league games since 2004 and 43-32 in non-league games.
Last week: Bye. This week: Mountain View (4-4, 1-2). History (since 2004): 2-6, lost six straight. AIA Ranking: No. 19. Last five: 3-5.
– Jason P. Skoda is a senior writer for MyNewsMesa.com. Send Mesa-based story ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org.