Daniel Pike is a sports journalism student at Arizona State University covering Desert Ridge High School athletics.
The Desert Ridge Jaguars are looking to continue their momentum and get
its vengeance against a winless Higley Knights team. Desert Ridge beat a solid Cesar Chavez team last week and is looking for its fourth win of the season.
The Jaguars currently have two more wins than last season. Head coach Roy Lopez has changed the culture and attitude of this Jaguars team.
The Jaguars struggled mightily in 2020 winning only one game. Lopez is in his first season and has made football fun for his players again.
“It’s nice to win again,” senior defensive lineman Nate Meza added.
Regardless of Higley’s record, Desert Ridge is not taking them for granted. Higley kept it close last week against a solid 3-1 Casteel team.
“This week the coaches are preaching toughness,” said senior center Alec Pier.
Following a 250-yard performance from running back Jordan Wilson, the Jaguars are hoping its offensive line can create running lanes once again. Wilson bounced back from a fumble early running right past the Cesar Chavez defense.
“We ran the same play multiple times in a row, it just worked. Jordan was running with anger, if he can continue to do that no one can stop us,” said Pier.
Wilson and the Desert Ridge offensive line are looking to punish a vulnerable Higley run defense who allowed 508 yards and seven touchdowns on the ground to Casteel.
Desert Ridge has been on fall break this week allowing players to have some rest and not think about school. The Jaguars have had early morning practices starting at 7 a.m. Practice begins with a film session for 45 minutes followed by practice on the field and then a lifting session in the gym afterward.
“We have been locked in this week,” star defensive end and Washington University commit Lance Holtzclaw said.
Holtzclaw is looking forward to keeping the wins coming. The defense has been watching film and getting a better understanding of their opponent's strengths and weaknesses.
“We don’t take anyone for granted, we prepare the same every week by watching film and understanding our jobs each week,” Holtzclaw added.
Higley is a balanced offense dropping back to pass 38 times while only running the ball 27 times. Holtzclaw is excited to be able to showcase what he has learned over the past couple of weeks both as a run defender and as a pass rusher. Although they have not won a game, the Higley offense can put points up on the board, scoring 27, 42 and 28 points over the last three weeks.
Last year, Higley defeated Desert Ridge 42-21 and waved the Jaguars off the field. Desert Ridge players felt disrespected and have been looking forward to this game for a while.
Desert Ridge is confident they will be able to get its revenge. The Jaguars are confident in their ability to run the ball against anyone, especially Higley.
Both Pier and McFarland said, “we are going to run the ball down their throats.”
“I expect to win, we are going to beat them,” McFarland added.