Nov. 16, 2005 - With a little more than four minutes remaining in its first-round game in the Class 4A state playoffs, a cloud of dust from a nearby pick-up game of kids hovered over the field at Dorado Stadium.
Nothing was going to cloud the evening for Canyon Del Oro High School, which won its first football playoff game in more than a decade, Nov. 10.
Runningback Peter Romero rushed for 144 yards as the Dorados routed No. 14 Rincon/University High School.
"Everything worked right for us," CDO head coach Pat Nugent said about the 47-7 thrashing of Rincon, a team which two weeks earlier nearly beat the Dorados 16-14 on the same field.
The playoff win for the Dorados is the first in recent memory for any of the coaches, who estimate that CDO has not won a state playoff game since the early 1990s. CDO last won its region in 1993, but lost in the first round of the playoffs.
On Nov. 18, CDO (10-1 overall, 5-0 Sonoran Region) will host Sabino High School in the second round of the state tourney. The game against Sabino (8-3, 4-1) is a rematch of the Oct. 21 meeting between the two schools. CDO won that contest 24-21 and gave Sabino its only loss in the Sonoran Region.
In that game, CDO was able to survive despite what Nugent refers to as the worst game of CDO quarterback Ryan Lush's career. In that game, Lush was 10 of 18 for 137 yards and two touchdowns, but was picked off three times.
On the year, Lush has thrown for 1,799 yards and 21 touchdowns.
Brandon Pennick came up big for the Dorados in the first match-up with Sabino, catching two third-down conversions from Lush and snaring a late interception and fumble recovery.
The win over Rincon has the Dorados believing its first year in the 4A can be a special one.
"We've got the confidence that we can win," said Lush after the Rincon game.
The Dorados could face rematches straight through to the semifinals with a win over Sabino and if No. 2 Millennium High School beats No. 7 Greenway High School.
CDO faced Millennium in week four and lost to the Tigers 24-17. The game was a tight one marred by a CDO fumble on the Millennium goal line.
Already with two home games in the post-season, CDO could benefit greatly should it reach the finals, which will be played at Arizona Stadium in Tucson. No. 5 Cienega High School is the only other Southern Arizona school left in the tournament, aside from CDO and Sabino.
Standing in the way of its first state title in football since repeating in 1976 and 1977 is a slew of top-ranked teams.
"It doesn't get any easier from here on out," said Nugent.
In other football action, Catalina Foothills, Ironwood Ridge and Mountain View high schools failed to advance out of the first round of the state playoffs.
Foothills, the 4A DI No. 16 seed was blanked 47-0 by No. 1 ranked Glendale Cactus High School. No. 14 Ironwood Ridge found the end zone twice, but it wasn't enough against. No. 3 Scottsdale Chaparral High School, which ousted the Nighthawks 55-14. Mountain View's stay in the Class 5A Division II playoffs was short lived. The No. 13 Mountain Lions put up a fight against No. 4 Glendale Ironwood High School, eventually succumbing to the Eagles 38-28.