Homecoming at Canyon del Oro couldn't have come at a better time.
After traveling to Scottsdale Saguaro and defeating the former three-time state champions the week before, a letdown would've seemed natural for the Dorados. However, emotions stayed intensified for Homecoming Night as the Dorados, now 7-0, defeated Catalina Foothills 48-7, after building a 42-0 halftime lead.
"We did some things right in the first half," said CDO coach Dustin Peace. "Homecoming helped us come out explosively."
Ka'Deem Carey gained 92 yards rushing on 16 carries, and scored three touchdowns. Quarterback Jason McBrayer ran for 96 yards on eight carries.
This Friday, the Dorados play host to Flowing Wells.
The Dorados scored out of the gate. After a face-masking penalty against Foothills put the Dorados on the Falcons 36-yard line, Carey went to work. He ran for 13 yards and a first down to the 23-yard line. After a loss, Carey ran for seven, then he broke an 18-yarder for a touchdown. With Tilghman Harvey's conversion, it was 7-0.
The fireworks were set off on the side of the Falcons' goal, punctuating the touchdown and the early lead on this special night.
Foothills' first offensive series ended up being its best scoring opportunity of the half. It looked like the Falcons were stopped on three plays, until a roughing the punter call against CDO gave them a first down at the 43-yard line. A 29-yard pass completion from Alyn Fletcher to Shawn Kobylinski put it down at the CDO 30-yard line. But after a fourth-down conversion put the ball on the 19-yard line, a penalty stymied the Falcons and forced a field-goal attempt. Andrew Flores missed the kick wide right.
CDO capped off an 80-yard scoring drive with a long run by McBrayer. After a nine-yard run by Carey, McBrayer took the snap and immediately bolted up the middle for 52 yards and a touchdown.
Cooper Smith returned an interception 31 yards to give the Dorados a 21-0 lead in the final minute of the first quarter.
The Dorados only scored one touchdown in the second half, but it wasn't like the near-meltdown at Saguaro the week before.
"We sat on it," Carey said. "I wasn't concerned."
The reason he wasn't concerned was because the big lead allowed the Dorados to play their second-string, whereas the week before the regulars stayed in the game.
"We had one drive in the second half and then substituted," Peace said. "We had opportunities to play (other players)."
JasonVartanian gained 34 yards on six carries. The defense scored three touchdowns for the Dorados.
In addition to Smith's interception return, Bobby Henkel picked up a fumble and went five yards to paydirt in the second quarter. On the final play of the game, junior Rey Reyna intercepted the ball and returned it 25 yards for the Dorados' only score of the second half. The touchdown also set off a final round of fireworks. In addition to the fireworks, there was also a pre-game parachutist, who landed near the goal line, and ran about 50 yards before coming to a stop.
For the Dorados, the biggest concern after the game may be the health of offensive/defensive threat Blake Martinez, who was hurt on the first series and never returned.
"It was his Achilles heel," Peace said. "We'll evaluate it next week."
"Blake should be back next week," said Carey.
Peace and Carey each agreed that Carey felt much better than he had the week before.
With three games left on the schedule, and after winning, the Dorados are feeling pretty good themselves these days.
"We've gotten better each week (defensively)," Peace said. "We haven't given up many points. They're really focused."
So how does the team need to approach the final few games before the playoffs start?
"We need to focus on what we do," Peace said. "Our battle is to keep our focus in practice."