Limp or leap.
It was the question that was posed to the Desert Vista football team heading into Week 10 as the third-ranked Thunder hosted No. 5 Chandler.
How did they want to enter the postseason? With a limp or with a leap forward.
While the Thunder lost a few more defensive players due to injury to limp just a bit, Desert Vista took a gigantic lunge to secure the third spot in the Division I postseason with a 38-31 win over Chandler at Thunder Stadium.
"We finished exactly where we wanted to," said Desert Vista coach Dan Hinds, whose team is on the opposite side of three-time big-school defending state champion Hamilton.
D.V. earned the No. 3 seed and will host No. 14 Phoenix North Canyon next Friday night.
Chandler fell to the No. 9 seed and must travel to No. 8 Avondale Westview. If Chandler and Hamilton win its respective first-round games, the two schools would meet in the quarterfinals.
The game was fast fun and played a frantic pace as the two squads combined for more than 900 yards with just one turnover and a handful of punts.
The Wolves (7-3) had a chance to tie it late, taking over on their own 42 with just under three minutes and three time outs remaining. Desert Vista's defense was tiring and didn't show much of a pass rush all game, but secured sacks, one by JJ Dielman and the other by Nick Farina, on the first two plays of the drive to force the Wolves to burn timeouts.
Chandler eventually got the first down, but turned it over on downs four plays later when Chandler quarterback Darrell Garretson was stopped on a 4th down and 2.
"I didn't come through for my teammates at the end," said Garettson, who finished 15 of 21 for 208 yards and an interception. "The running game as great all night, but I didn't get there. Now, instead of knowing we were going to get a top four seed we have to wait and see how far we fall."
The Wolves are projected to get the ninth seed and travel to Avondale to take on Westview next week.
Desert Vista (9-1) is projected to take on No. 14 North Canyon.
The game was an up and down the field affair as Chandler's Paul Perkins ran 26 times for 268 yards and four touchdowns, while teammate Javon Williams had nine catches and 154 yards.
But it was Desert Vista that was the team out front most of the game as the Thunder went to the air with Chandler packing the box with defenders.
"We loaded up against the run and if they were going to beat us it was going to have to come over the top," Chandler coach Shaun Aguano said. "And that's what we did so we have some adjustments to make."
Thunder quarterback Hunter Rodriguez had some fun as the big left-hander completed 16 of 22 passes for 256 yards and four touchdowns. He twice found Matt Geranen (4 catches for 74 yards) and also had scoring throws to Matt Smith, who left with a left high ankle sprain, and Kaleb Germinaro.
The player of the game for Desert Vista might have been Farina as the junior safety had an interception inside the Thunder's red zone, had the late sack and sniffed out a fake punt on fourth and 2 when he tackled Chandler's LaRon Tarkington.
"I saw them run the same play in the JV game so I kind of had a feeling it was coming," Farina said of the stop on the fourth down that led directly to a 17-7 lead.
Farina said it was important to send out the 35 seniors with a home win in their last regular season game.
"They've earned that right," he said. "We were focused on Chandler, getting the win and let the playoff stuff take care of itself."
Contact writer at (480) 898-7915 or JSkoda@ahwatukee.com. Follow him on Twitter @JSkodaAFN.