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September 17, 2014

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high school football:

Desert Pines peaking at the right time, tops Chaparral to secure playoff berth

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Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun

Desert Pines football players Trevon Turner and Travis Nofoa Thursday, July 26, 2012.

Prep Sports Now

Dominance of Moapa and Gorman; who's No. 2: Liberty or Arbor View?

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Las Vegas Sun sports reporters Ray Brewer and Case Keefer compare the run Moapa Valley is on in the Division 1-A to the one Bishop Gorman has put together this season in the upper decision. Other familiar arguments arise, including a debate on whether Arbor View should be considered as the second-best team in the state. Give us your thoughts in the comments.

Walking up and down the Desert Pines’ football team’s sideline Friday night during their 48-28 victory against Chaparral, it was obvious the Jaguars players had a different attitude.

The Jaguars, after struggling to start the season, are a confident a bunch. And that makes them one of Division-IA’s most dangerous teams.

Malik Davis rushed for 137 yards on 15 carries and two touchdowns against Chaparral, and Desert Pines started to resemble the team everyone thought they would be this fall. They were physical upfront on both sides of the ball and have several players at the skilled position who could score each time they touched the ball.

After opening the season with a pair of defeats, Desert Pines improved to 5-3 overall and 3-1 in league games in securing a playoff berth in the Sunrise Region of the Division I-A. Next week, they host power Moapa Valley to close the regular season, and could force a three-way tie in first-place with Moapa Valley and Boulder City.

“The kids are starting to buy in,” Desert Pines coach Paul Bennett said. “I tell you what, it takes awhile, and I don’t know why (it takes so long), but the kids are starting to believe.

Desert Pines’ quarterback Iquan Corsey accounted for three first-half touchdowns, including finding Tim Hough for a 14-yard scoring strike on the last play of the second quarter for a 30-13 halftime lead.

Chaparral opened the second half with a long scoring drive to trim its deficit to 30-20, but Davis returned the ensuing kickoff 97 yards for a touchdown, and Desert Pines never looked back.

With each big play, the players grew more excited and confident. Not only were they clinching a playoff berth, they were proving a long stay in the postseason could be a reality.

“We knew we had to have this to make the playoffs,” Davis said. “We practiced real hard all week and came out tonight and dominated the opponent.”

And it wasn’t just Davis.

Several Desert Pines players — such as Eric Wilkes, who had 100 total yards of offense and a 40-yard touchdown reception — nearly broke through for long gains each time they touched the ball.

“We attacked them the way we thought we could attack them,” Bennett said.

Antonio Thomas had nearly 100 yards rushing and two touchdown for the Cowboys, but for the most part, the Desert Pines defense held Thomas in check. They’ll need a similar effort next week against Moapa Valley’s Conner Mortensen, who is arguably the division’s top player.

“We have to try our best to slow the (Moapa Valley) backs down,” Bennett said. “(Mortensen) is a great back, by the way. He runs hard and has good cutting ability. They are a well-disciplined team, a well-oiled machine. We’ll try our best to slow it down.”

Ray Brewer can be reached at 990-2662 or [email protected]. Follow Ray on Twitter at twitter.com/raybrewer21.

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