Desert Vista Thunder
Coach: Dan Hinds
Last year’s record: 2-8
Returning starters offense: 4, including receiver Michael Ingrassia, who’ll also play safety. The captain will be a big-play threat for new QB Hunter Rodriguez.
Returning starters defense: 4, including linebacker Michael Arredondo, who missed Week 1 because of injury but is expected to return in two weeks. He’ll be in the middle of the D.V. defense after a 63-tackle season as a sophomore in 2009.
Aug. 27 vs. Tucson; Sept. 10 at Pinnacle; Sept. 16 at Mountain Pointe; Sept. 24 at Hamilton; Oct. 1 vs. St. Mary’s; Oct. 8 vs. Mesa; Oct. 15 at Corona del Sol; Oct. 22 vs. Chandler; Oct. 29 at Brophy; Nov. 5 vs. Red Mountain.
Sept. 16 at Mountain Pointe: The Ahwatukee Bowl went in Mountain Pointe’s favor for the first time since 2005, and the Thunder haven’t forgotten last year’s early 18-7 lead that vanished quickly.
Oct. 15 at Corona del Sol: Former region rivals, this could be a big game for the Thunder because it’s an out-of-Fiesta-Region break, and a win here will only boost the power points no matter what happens in the subsequent weeks against Chandler and Brophy.
Nov. 5 vs. Red Mountain: Could decide a playoff spot, especially if the Thunder have 1-2 more wins heading into this game than last year, when they barely missed postseason.
It couldn’t have been worse.
There was optimsim early in 2009 when Desert Vista shut out Tucson to begin the season, but then came Pinnacle, Mountain Pointe and Corona del Sol. That was interspersed by the Fiesta Region schedule, and there was no mercy in those five weeks.
There were key injuries, a mass suspension, a shortage of depth up front and a frustrated locker room. By the end, D.V. was a grumble-filled 2-8.
Yet a playoff spot wasn’t that far out of reach, and that’s cause for optimism in Ahwatukee. The Thunder figure one or two more close games will go their way this season. At least.
Desert Vista is young with a baker’s dozen seniors on the roster and most significant spots in the lineup being held by underclassmen. Among them is junior quarterback Hunter Rodriguez who won the job out of camp. His size and arm impressed Thunder coaches.
Sean Coffinger filled in at quarterback at times last season, but moves back to defensive end/tight end, and, when healthy, the “Mikes” — Ingrassia and Arredondo — figure to help provide that leadership role.
The Thunder are used to success, and this now-decade-long tenure under Hinds has the Thunder well below anyone’s radar given the crowded Fiesta talents.
Desert Vista is OK with that.
It can only get better.