A brilliant blitz of fireworks illuminated the sky immediately following Friday’s homecoming clash between undefeated Canyon del Oro and hosting Catalina Foothills.
Despite the light show, the Falcons had little to celebrate as the visiting Dorados boarded the bus back to Oro Valley. After a 34-21 loss, Catalina Foothills fell to 2-4 on the year, while CDO improved to 6-0.
That unbeaten record is the team’s best start since the 2010 season, when they reached the state title game.
Friday’s two-score win featured the calling cards of the Dorados offense this season, with the team rushing for 195 yards and four touchdowns in the victory.
The Dorado’s impressive running game was the result of a team effort, while senior back Gavin Davis the team with 67 yards and three touchdowns.
Dynamic junior Stevie Rocker added 66 yards in his season debut after missing the team’s opening five contests with a high ankle sprain.
Junior quarterback Montana Neustadter accounted for the team’s other two scores; a six-yard touchdown on the ground and a 25-yard pass to receiver Devin Medina in the game’s fourth quarter.
“It was a great win,” said CDO head coach Dustin Peace. “I felt good about the things we did offensively when we were taking care of the ball.”
The key to Friday’s 12-point win, according to Davis, is the team’s good luck in getting starters back from injury.
The Dorados suited up 35 players for the first time this season against the Falcons.
“To see everyone out here, that's for sure special,” Davis said. “Then just for us to come out and fight and to put a hit on people and to hear the pads crunch on defense, that's always special.”
Neustadter, who finished with 97 passing yards, 51 rushing yards and two touchdowns, said the team is cautiously optimistic as they enter the home stretch of the regular season.
“We just have to keep our heads straight and don't just get caught up in the moment,” Neustadter said. “We just need to keep focusing next week, next week, next week, and if we do that will be fine.”
The Dorados next face as Sahuaro (6-1) at home. The Cougars are fresh off their first loss of the year, to Salpointe Catholic, 58-13, Friday night.
The phrase at the forefront of Peace’s mind heading into that contest is “35-strong,” a reference to having a full roster of players to field against the Cougars.
“We know how big next week is,” Peace said. “They got us last year. They kind of bullied us last year. So, our team’s had this one highlighted on our schedule for a while. It’s nice to have them at home, so to be 35 strong and to come out 35 strong tonight, after a tough game. We’re happy about it man.”
Not only will the Dorados field a full roster Friday night, Rocker will play. The junior, who ran for 1,269 yards as a sophomore last season, missed the team’s previous contest with Sahuaro due to injury.
The future is bright for the team, in Peace’s opinion, with their win over Catalina Foothills on their own homecoming night serving as the latest example.
“It’s a mentality, it’s the maturity factor of all these young men,” Peace said. “It’s just got that championship kind of feel. So, little by little, they keep believing in themselves. I keep hearing them whisper about a state championship and I keep hearing them whisper things that we haven’t whispered in a long time.”