It was early Friday night at Chaparral High School, just after sunset. After a slow start, Desert Oasis’ version of the West Coast offense was beginning to find its groove.
The Diamondbacks were missing a bunch of players due to COVID protocols, but they were tossing the football all over the field. And having lots of success as usual.
But shortly before the end of a first half that would see quarterback Tyler Stott complete 19 of 27 passes for 291 yards and four TDs, a loud Desert Oasis fan stepped to the front row of the bleachers and demanded that the Diamondbacks start running the ball.
For most of the second half, Desert Oasis complied. The results were negligible.
So when Chaparral took the lead with a late touchdown, the Diamondbacks started tossing the football all over the field again.
The results were spectacular. One completion, two completions, three completions.
With 36 seconds to play, Stott threw an apparent 42-yard touchdown pass to slotback Isaiah Flasher that was nullified by a penalty. With 16 seconds to play, he threw another apparent TD pass that was dropped in the end zone.
Now there was time for only one more play, from the Chaparral 32-yard line.
Desert Oasis sent three receivers to the right side, none of which were open. Stott shuffled left, threw left. Flasher caught the ball in the left corner of the end zone.
The scoreboard changed for the last time.
Visitors 42. Home 39.
Sometimes in football, you have to dance with the one who brung ya’.
Words of wisdom
That was an expression often used by Darrell Royal, the former and legendary Texas coach. It meant a team should rely on its most reliable plays and players.
At Desert Oasis, that means Stott and passing plays.
If the name sounds familiar, it should.
Stott’s uncle, Derek, was UNLV’s starting quarterback from 1989 through 1991. His cousin, Bryson, was a baseball star at Desert Oasis and UNLV who recently was named the Philadelphia Phillies’ minor league player of the year. His dad, Brandon, played quarterback at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and coached quarterbacks at Cornell; he’s now the Diamondbacks’ offensive coordinator.
Brandon Stott said the spread offense Desert Oasis runs is nearly identical to the ones Cal Poly and Cornell used when he was playing and coaching in college.
“We’ve messed with it a little bit, but it has its roots back there with the Bill Walsh days like everything else,” he said in paying homage to the former NFL coaching legend’s style of play predicated on short passes that set up deep ones.
Stats a plenty
Desert Oasis head coach Brant Smith and Brandon Stott coached together at Canyon Springs and agreed the spread —“basketball on grass,” Smith calls it — gave their new team its best chance for success.
“We don’t have a lot of big guys, but we have a lot of guys with big hearts,” Smith said after Desert Oasis improved to 5-1 in Class 4A. “We have a quarterback and some receivers to really go do some things. It makes sense to play in this style of offense.”
Stott, who completed 28 of 43 passes for 416 yards and five TDs against Chaparral — he also was intercepted three times when the Cowboys dropped everybody except the water boy into coverage — has thrown five touchdown passes before halftime in two games this season.
“A passing offense is always great for the quarterback,” he said with a modest smile.
With three games yet to play plus playoffs, he has thrown for 2,039 yards and 26 TDs — statistics that combined with his size (6 feet, 4 inches and 205 pounds) and family tree should attract late attention from college scouts despite his junior season having been canceled by COVID.
“I definitely want to play in college, but I don’t know what that’s going to hold right now,” Stott said after delivering in the clutch (and beforehand) at Chaparral. “But that’s the goal.”
As usual, he was last to leave the field. His teammates were still making a ruckus on the bus near the end zone where he found Flasher for the winning TD.
They were waiting to dance with the one who brung them.