Dan Hinds has been waiting to pounce.
All he needed was a sign; any indication at all that trouble was brewing.
Only it never came.
The Desert Vista football coach was half expecting to see a sense of entitlement from his players in the time that has passed since the Thunder won the state title in December and was ready to squash it as soon as it surfaced.
And here it is a few days before the start of spring football and Hinds hasn’t seen any sign of it.
“I’ve been waiting for it, standing around waiting for an ounce of satisfaction,” Hinds said. “I haven’t picked it up from one player. I am not getting that at all. They are working hard, getting ready to take care of business and write their own story.”
Instead the Thunder begin spring ball — 10 practices over the next three weeks — with a similar approach as any other year Hinds has led Desert Vista.
“We are not going to change anything we do,” Hinds said. “We have a lot of position battles and competition fosters improvement.”
Mountain Pointe is coming off the first disappointing season, if 6-5 and a playoff berth is rock bottom things aren’t all that bad, in the tenure of Norris Vaughan and the Pride are ready to make amends.
Vaughan can look back and realize the chemistry was never right last season and injuries curtailed any chance of returning to the state semifinals.
He has sensed a change in the weight room and expects it to continue as spring ball begins.
“It wasn’t the kind of season we expected, but we are really excited about the new season and we are anxious to get going,” Vaughan said. “We have a better group than last year. This team can be competitive with any that we have had here.”
The team brings back plenty of skilled players with plenty of depth, but for the fourth straight season the offense will be led by a new quarterback.
With last year’s starter Caleb Buck at Maricopa, sophomore Antonio Hinojosa, who transferred from Marcos de Niza, heads into the spring as the top quarterback.
He was listed as 5-foot-9, 170-pound last season and Vaughan said he is quick and athletic along with having as strong as an arm as any quarterback he has had at Mountain Pointe.
While it is great to have an idea as to who the quarterback will be this fall, Vaughan said the team has been held back by the inability to retain a quarterback from one year to the next.
“A program that has a well-established quarterback or someone waiting in the wings has a huge advantage,” Vaughan said. “No question. We’ve never had that.”
The Pride will have plenty of talent coming back led by junior wide receiver Jalen Brown, senior lineman Kenny Lacy, who almost 30 offers, junior lineman Natrell Curtis, linebackers Wesley and Landry Payne among others.
“Our attitude is the best it has ever been,” he said. “We weeded out some problems and we can get back to the type of football we expect from Mountain Pointe.”
The hardest thing Desert Vista, which will start the year in the Sollenberger Classic against Palo Verde (Las Vegas), has to do is replace leaders like quarterback Hunter Rodriguez and linebacker Mike Arredondo.
The Thunder will have the talent — four of the offensive linemen return led by Zach Tamburo, along with running back Jarek Hilgers, backup quarterback Matt Young, wide receiver Kaleb Germinaro, defensive lineman Lorenzo Melvin and safety Nick Farina — but finding the right people to keep things on an even keel is more important.
“I’ve seen a lot of talented teams come back and underachieve,” Hinds said. “We do a lot of things to try and build leadership. You never know what kid it is going to be. I am waiting to see who blossoms and develops. We have a bunch of guys already show great leadership qualities and I don’t think we will have any problems with kids getting out of line.”
Should that change, however, and the team shows any sign of veering off path Hinds will be ready to pounce.
“I am ready to hammer them so hard that it will stop them in their tracks,” he said. “I don’t think I will have to, but we will if there is any sign of it.”
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