More often than not football games, at any level, are decided by a handful of plays.
At Desert Vista High School the Thunder are staying a step ahead and a leg up so-to-speak behind their special teams units paced by a pair of seniors in kicker Connor Culp and punter Payton Theisler, as well as sophomore running back and return specialist Keishaud White.
All three were instrumental in DV’s close win over Red Mountain in the first round of the Division I playoffs Friday night.
“Special teams were great,” Thunder head coach Dan Hines told Sports360AZ.com after their 30-24 win over Red Mountain.
With the game tied at 14 at halftime DV surged ahead behind the right leg of Culp and the quick feet of White. The 5’6″ speedster’s 54-yard punt return was sandwiched between a pair of Culp field goals, including a 50 yard rocket which likely would have been good from 60. The LSU commit also negated the Lions’ return game booming kickoff after kickoff deep into the back of the end zone.
“I just kept telling myself it’s the same thing I’ve been doing all year and the same thing I’ve been doing in practice,” Culp said after the game about the long field goal. “I’ve been working hard and I just believed in myself. I can do what I do best.”
He’s missed only one point-after-touchdown all season and improved not only his range on field goals but more importantly, his accuracy.
As for White, he simply lets the game come to him but still plays with a reckless abandon which makes opposing coaches nervous every time he jogs back to receive a punt or kick.
“I don’t fear my opponent,” White confidently explained. “I know I’m one of the smallest people on the field but I don’t use that as an [excuse]. I use discipline and intensity.”
The intensity will be ramped up when the Thunder make the trip across I-10 to take on top-seeded Chandler in the quarterfinals Friday.