The Desert Edge Scorpions, despite a 28-23 loss to Mesquite in the 4A football championship game on Friday, have a lot to be proud of this season.
A young squad, especially on defense, battled back from a 16-point deficit and even held a lead in the fourth quarter before the Wildcats drove and ultimately took the championship.
The Scorpions got down early and still managed a late comeback was inspiring to the team’s staff.
“They never quit. Everybody stayed the course, when some other teams might have given up, they kept battling and were in it all the way,” said Jose Lucero, the Desert Edge coach.
Mesquite led the whole game until midway through the fourth quarter. The Wildcats came out hot on offense, scoring two touchdowns and a field goal on their first three offensive drives. The biggest play of the first half came on a 44-yard touchdown reception by Jacob Walker on just the team’s second offensive snap of the evening.
The Wildcats forced three stops on fourth downs and went into halftime ahead, 16-3.
But then Desert Edge tightened its defense and executed pass plays more efficiently. A 51-yard touchdown pass to senior Jihad Marks, on the first play of the fourth quarter, followed by a short touchdown run on the next drive - the Scorpions took their first lead of the game with 6:59 remaining on the clock.
The Scorpions intercepted a pass on the ensuing defensive possession and tried to run the clock out. However, they turned the ball over on fourth down with 2:26 remaining in the game.
Junior quarterback Ty Thompson led the Wildcats down the field in just 26 seconds. His third touchdown pass of the night, a 33-yarder to Michael Sterling with 2:00 remaining, gave them the lead — once again.
Then, after a couple Scorpion offensive plays to try and win the game, with just over a minute left in regulation, Lara threw a high pass Mesquite defensive back Jordan Wollangk got under and made a play on.
He picked the ball off and the Wildcats were able to run out the game clock to secure the championship.
With sophomore quarterback Adryan Lara coming off a breakout season, the Scorpions will be considered contenders going into next year. This season’s 10-4 team can take pride in a near-title run.
“We’re going to take a little bit of time, let things sink in and celebrate the seniors and the great ride this season has been,” Lucero said.