Nov. 10, 2004 - As the last minute unfolded in Canyon del Oro's playoff-deciding, final game of the year against Tucson, the only thing seemingly marching faster than the clock was the Badgers on CDO's defense.
With the Dorados desperately clinging to a 28-21 lead, CDO head coach Pat Nugent turned to the sidelines and to anyone within earshot and offered a simple question.
"Nothing comes easy, does it?" quipped the fifth-year head coach.
One play later, Evan Raley picked off his second Tucson pass of the game, sending his teammates and Nugent into a frenzy and CDO (8-2, 5-1) to the Class 5A state playoffs.
But the frenzy will be short-lived.
CDO finds itself entering the 16-team tournament a No. 10 seed and up against an old foe in Salpointe Catholic.
"It's back to work on Monday," beamed a heavily taped-up senior lineman, Ravi DeFilipo.
Salpointe (7-3, 5-1 5A Southern Region) earned its spot in the state playoffs after dismantling Mountain View 30-14. The win over the Mountain Lions (7-3, 5-1) created a three-way tie on top of the 5A Southern Region between CDO, Mountain View and Salpointe. Due to its rankings in the power point system, the Lancers are ranked No. 7 in the state.
"We don't like rooting for Salpointe, but tonight it sure worked out for us," said Nugent, whose CDO squad needed a Lancer win over Mountain View Nov. 5 to give the Dorados a shot at the playoffs should they have lost to Tucson.
Despite losing to Mountain View the week before, CDO got the nod over the Mountain Lions in the state playoffs based on its power points.
Nugent and CDO can go back to despising one of its fiercest rivals over the course of its history in the 5A Southern Region. The match up between CDO and Salpointe will mark the end of an era and the final time the two schools face each other in the state playoffs. CDO will drop down to Class 4A starting next season due to its declining school enrollment. For now, the smallest 5A school in the state playoffs will enjoy its final run through the post-season.
"Who'd thought a school with 1,700 students could make the playoffs," said Nugent.
Ravaged by injuries and a short bench, CDO may have gotten its running game as close as it will get to being healthy in the game versus Tucson. Tailback Brock Knight led the Dorados with 124 yards on ground, followed closely by senior running back Sean Romero who rushed for 99 yards despite playing with a torn ACL.
This will be the second game between the two schools this season. CDO got the best of Salpointe Oct. 1 by whipping the Lancers 27-7 at home. For CDO to be successful a second time out, the Dorados will need to keep the ball away from the Lancers' multi-talented Jack Darlington.
Darlington nearly single-handedly defeated the Mountain Lions, returning four punts for 173 yard, hauling in 93 yards through the air and coming up with a game ending interception.
The Dorados will travel to Salpointe for a 7 p.m. kickoff Nov. 12.