The calendar has turned and Desert Edge reaffirmed its commitment to "November football" in its home win against rival Millennium.
The Scorpions' 21-7 win Nov. 5 featured its offensive line opening holes for steady junior back Christopher Cordero, the ball-control passing game led by senior quarterback Adryan Lara's connection with junior Gavin Parks, and opportunistic special teams.
More than anything, Desert Edge (7-2, 4-0) relied on a defense that has come of age. The unit held Millennium sophomore running back Zues Pindernation to 65 yards, 85 below his season average coming in, and pitched a shoutout until the final five minutes.
"In November and December, you need to be able to run the football and play defense. It's Nov. 5 so we're going to run the football and play defense, and that's what we did tonight," Desert Edge co-coach and defensive coordinator Marcus Carter said. "We knew it was going to be physical. We have physical practices so we're built for this."
With all that said, the game turned on a punt a minute until halftime. To that point Desert Edge dominated time of possession and limited Millennium to only 15 offensive plays.
Yet the home team led only 7-0 as halftime neared, as post-play unsportsmanlike conduct penalties stopped two long drives.
A bad snap threw off the timing of Millennium's 34-yard field goal attemptwith 4:55 left in the half. Another low snap skidded off the grass and caused the Tigers' punter to field the ball with his knee down at his own 9.
"Our defense played their butts off. The game plan works. Lamar Early said. "We didn't execute when we had the chances. The missed field goal and the snap just before half. Those are brutal."
The Scorpions immediately took advantage, with Lara tossing a nine-yard touchdown pass to senior receiver Matthew Willis.
Cordero and Parks dominated the first-half statistics and the Scorpions' other touchdown drive.
Parks caught three passes for 18 yards and the other six plays were Cordero runs. He finished the drive with a two-yard touchdown run.
At halftime Parks had nine catches for 65 yards and Cordero had 15 carries for 63 yards. This is Cordero's fourth game as the primary back and he has meshed with an offensive line featuring four new starters around Michigan State-bound Gavin Broscious.
"In the Ironwood it really clicked. It was a close game and they kept feeding me the ball.," Cordero said. "Adryan is my guy, we're really close. The whole offense is really, really close. I had fun. The o-line did a great job and I'm just thankful for my opportunities."
#WestValleyPreps #AZPreps365 @DEdgeFootball offense has been all WR Gavin Parks (5 catches) and RB @chriscxdero (9 carries) so far and it’s working. Cordero finished a 42-yard drive with this 2-yard TD 7-0 Desert Edge 2:56 first quarter pic.twitter.com/YGfgEkpIFl— Richard Smith (@RsmithYWV) November 6, 2021
The Scorpions' longest play of the night, a 19-yard throw back from Parks to Lara, set up their thrid touchdown in the third quarter. Cordero burrowed in from the 1 on the next play.
Desert Edge co-coach and offensive coordinator Mark Carter said the threat of Lara's deep ball opened up the running game and short passing game. He credited the four-year starter for his smarts and unselfishness, checking to run plays with Cordero in a rhythm and taking the throws the defense gave him.
"It was important for us to be balanced and not one dimensional. They played cover four and dropped eight almost the whole game," Lara said. "This is not one of my most talented receiving groups but they're the smartest by far. They know what zones to find and understand coverage schemes."
Millennium (4-5, 1-3) had the ball more and better chances to score in the second half.
On fourth and 10 from the Scorpions' 21, junior Marvalous Hannon broke up Millennium senior quarterback Blake Sparks' pass to senior receiver Samuel Kelly in the end zone.
Sophomore defensive back Aundre Gibson picked off Sparks on the next Tigers drive, returning the interception to the Millennium 33 and set up Cordero's touchdown.
"Although we have a really young defense, people don't realize we had really good players in front of them. They were getting quality reps but were behind some really good seniors. Marcus Carter said. "Hats off to those seniors (last year) for showing these guys how to be. (Mark) has four downs to go for it every single game because our defense is going to stand tall. We start three sophomores and I'm really proud of them."
Millennium finally scored in the fourth following a 43-yard bomb from Sparks to Kelly. A pass interference call moved the Tigers to the 11, where junior running back Giovanni Peru ran for 10, then 1, to score.
Do not be fooled by the Tigers' record. This was their biggest loss of the year, with the other four coming by 1, 2, 5 and 7 points.
All of those teams are headed to the playoffs. At #12 in 5A coming in, Millennium should join them - only needing to make a play or two to reverse their fate in the playoffs.
First up is senior night at Millennium Nov. 12. The opponent is flux for now after Ironwood was forced to cancel its game against Fairfax this week due to COVID cases on the team.
"If we can put together a game ... we just can't miss opportunites against a good football team," Early said.
Desert Edge came in at #7 in 5A and is likely to jump former #5 Verrado after the Vipers lost to Sunrise Mountain Nov. 5.
The Scorpions finish their season at Verrado next week with the chance to clinch an undisputed region title and make a statement to the rest of 5A
"We want to best in weeks 11, 12 13 and 14. Our special teams are better. Our coaches are doing a really good job coaching these guys up. It's a blessing when you have the guys around you can trust," Mark Carter said.
No comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here