Vista Grande’s best shot at victory last Friday night was winning the pregame coin toss against the Canyon del Oro Dorados. The Spartans would go on to lose that flip, as they would the ensuing football game, as the Dorados rolled over their winless visitors, 63-6, on senior night.
The Dorados improved to 8-1 on the year, thanks to a 42-point shellacking in the game’s opening quarter. The team’s six opening quarter scores included an 18-yard pass from senior quarterback Jared Vasquez to fellow senior Cory Bonstrom, and a 27-yard strike from Vasquez to Jack Greenfield.
Austin Brooks added a defensive score for the Dorados, snagging a wayward Vista Grande pass and returning it to the end zone to CDO a 21-0 edge in the game’s opening minutes.
The final three scores of the first quarter came via a touchdown pass by the Dorados’ other quarterback, Montana Neustadter, as well as a highlight reel touchdown run by junior Alex Maldonado.
Vasquez capped off the opening quarter scoring bonanza with a nine-yard touchdown pass to Dylan Zamorano, his second-to-last score of the night.
All told, the Dorados finished Friday with 316 rushing and 113 passing yards.
According to Dorados head coach Dustin Peace, his team’s big win was a result of spreading the love on both sides of the ball.
That team wide involvement included plenty of seniors like Vasquez and running back Gavin Davis, giving senior night extra meaning.
“Every opportunity that you get to play is a great opportunity for these kids, and they cherished it,” Peace said. “It was fun to get a lot of people the ball and a lot of people some playing time and I think that was fun for our team overall. It was great to get out of here healthy.”
According to Davis, the team grasped the importance of Friday’s festivities in the pregame huddle, but the atmosphere in the locker room was rather jovial, he added, given the expectation of playing at least one playoff game in Oro Valley.
“As the last regular season home game, it’s always an emotional time,” Davis said. “There wasn’t as much crying as I expected, based on last year—but I think that’s because we all expect to have two more games here during the playoffs. It’s fun to come out here and compete again.”
Perhaps the greatest boon for Peace’s team is the return to health for junior Stevie Rocker, who missed the team’s first five games with a high ankle sprain.
Rocker looked much more comfortable with the ball in his hand last week than in previous contests against Catalina Foothills and Salpointe Catholic, and ran for 133 rushing yards on seven carries.
“I’m starting to find my groove again now,” Rocker said. “After those first few runs that I had, I still hadn’t found my way into the end zone yet, but I’m starting to get those runs that I need to get to start leading myself into those end zone runs.”
As the stadium emptied at CDO last Friday night, Peace’s focus was already shifting to this Friday’s regular season finale against a 5-4 Casa Grande team which lost to Sahuaro, 34-13, last week.
Peace knows that the road trip to Pinal County will put his players to the test and give the Dorados a good look at what the playoffs will be like.
He’s hopeful that players like Davis and Rocker can guide the team further than they’ve gone in recent years, bringing a playoff game or two to Oro Valley.
“If we want to win, we have to get used to traveling and playing whatever team’s in front of us,” Peace said. “Casa Grande’s going to be ready without a doubt. They play hard and our kids know what’s on the line though and I think that’s what’s going to be to our advantage.”