It may have taken a couple weeks, but Desert Pines’ football team finally played like the defending Class 3A state champions.
Quarterback Tyler Williamson threw for four touchdowns and 244 yards to lead the Jaguars to a 48-0 home win over Silverado. It was a stark contrast to Desert Pines’ first two games, in which the team went scoreless.
Due to several players having yet to be cleared for varsity, however, the Jaguars were forced to play those matchups with a smaller roster.
“We’re really young, so every week we’re getting better,” Desert Pines coach Tico Rodriguez said. “Now that we have more guys cleared to play, we’re getting to full strength right now.”
The Jaguars (1-2) focused on their passing attack throughout the game. On the first possession, Williamson capped off an 81-yard drive with a 26-yard touchdown pass to DeAundre Newsome. Williamson would connect with Newsome for another touchdown from the 16 yard line late in the second quarter.
In total, Williamson connected with eight different receivers on the day. Branden Thomas and Jyden King also caught TD passes at 30 and 32 yards, respectively.
“Since we have so many good receivers, we can open up the field,” Williamson said. “The other team has to adjust to what we do.”
Even with the outstanding play of his receivers, Williamson was quick to point out the effectiveness of his offensive line. Aside from Silverado’s three sacks, the blockers gave him plenty of time in the pocket for most of the game.
“I feel like we’re coming together as one,” Williamson said. “I’ve got to give it up to my offensive line. That’s the heart of the team right there.”
The Jaguars defense was equally impressive, holding Silverado (0-2) to just 45 yards of total offense. Desert Pines also had two interceptions and recovered three fumbles on the day.
Defensive back Jorden Howdan returned both interceptions for touchdowns. The first came midway through the second quarter from the Jaguars’ own 43 yard line. Howdan scored again late in the third quarter when he returned an interception from 40 yards out.
At the end of the game, the Jaguars defense recovered a fumble at the Skyhawks’ 2 yard line. Three plays later, Jamel Brown ran it in for a 1-yard touchdown.
Considering that Desert Pines’ last game was a 51-0 loss to Arbor View, Friday’s shutout was a welcome victory for coach Rodriguez.
“This was big,” he said. “When you lose those two games the way we did, it’s easy to lose confidence. But they stuck in there, we made some corrections and the offense played really well.”