Sometimes a team’s play-calling can dictate its identity. Other times, the identity dictates the play-calling.
For Desert Edge, it is most certainly the latter.
When talking to Desert Edge head football coach Rich Wellbrock after a Week 10 win over rival Verrado, I said, “Coach, your offensive ident-”
Before I could finish the question, let alone the word, he blurted out, “Ground and pound.”
That mindset is ingrained in their coach, in their team, in their community.
And the Scorpions are perfectly, borderline poetically, crafted to do just that.
Seniors Brock Corbin and Hunter Jones, along with sophomores Austin Young, Max Wilhite and Tyson Jones are table-setters for the Scorpions and are an average size of 6-foot-4 and 285 pounds. They are huge, but move well. Collectively, the group acts as a tidal wave, moving to each level of the defense, sweeping away anything that could slow down their backfield.
“They do their jobs every single week. They do their jobs every single day at practice and in the games day in and day out,” Desert Edge quarterback Tehran Thomas said. “We wouldn’t be the team we (are), we wouldn’t be the offense that you guys see on Friday nights if they weren’t pushing the line of scrimmage, controlling the game up front….They are the key to our success”
“They’re gigantic. It’s excellent running behind them,” Desert Edge running back Roshaun Johnson said. “Every play, they give it 100 percent, giving that push to the (defensive) line. No matter who we play, they’re fearless.”
Once the path is clear, it’s up to a trio of running backs to pack the punch. Sophomore Rocky Perez, junior Roshaun Johnson and senior Alex Medrano have combined for 2,239 rushing yards and 24 touchdowns on the year. Perez and Medrano are similarly sized, in the neighborhood of 5-foot-9 and 170 pounds, and are always a threat to pick up 50-yard chunks at a time. Johnson, who also is the team’s leading receiver and spends time at linebacker, is a human MACK truck, the Mike Tyson left hook to this knockout combo.
“It’s a great asset to be able to keep defenses on their toes – they don’t know where we are going to go next,” Thomas said. “Just being able to go in there and hit somebody with one thing, and then hit them with another thing, we’re able to attack from all different angles and we’re able to put points on the board and get wins.”
The offensive line and running backs help mold this “ground and pound” identity, but the one who makes it all go is junior quarterback Tehran Thomas. With nearly 1,500 rushing yards, he is the team’s leading rusher despite missing three games with a leg injury. While Thomas was out, the Scorpions dropped two games to Paradise Valley, their foe in the upcoming Division III title game, and Division I power Chaparral. Since his return, the Scorpions have averaged nearly 53 points per game and have a 10-game win streak. Thomas is able to use the read-option as a Swiss Army knife to cut up defenses. He can keep the ball, hand it off to one of his weapons in the backfield, or draw the defense in and hit a receiver for a big gain. On the year, he has rushed for 26 touchdowns and thrown for an additional 16 while only throwing three interceptions.
“Obviously he is very important to our team, he is our quarterback,” Wellbrock said. “Anybody in high school football will tell you if you have a good quarterback, you seem to have a chance.”
Thanks to Thomas, the offensive line, multiple offensive weapons and a tenacious defense, the Scorpions have more than a chance in the upcoming Division III championship against top-seeded Paradise Valley on Saturday.
Expect the ground and pound to be in full effect.