Normally a game plan that opens with Ka’Deem Carey carrying the ball continuously in the first half, and closes with the Canyon del Oro defense putting down its clamps, is all but a guaranteed victory.
Such wasn’t the case at CDO last Friday, when the Dorados beat Glendale Apollo 28-9.
The win propels the unbeaten Dorados into the semifinal game against Cienega for the second year in a row. Kickoff is at 7 p.m. Friday at Tucson High School. The fourth-ranked Bobcats advanced after defeating Peoria, 21-13.
Carey gained 177 yards on 19 carries, including 139 in the first half, but the senior tweaked his hamstring in the third quarter, and did not return. His status for this week is uncertain.
Friday’s contest started beautifully, when Carey went 58 yards on the first play. He eventually scored from a yard out.
A high-powered Apollo offense, coming off a 52-point performance versus Cave Creek Cactus Shadows, marched to the Dorado 25-yard line. The ball popped loose on the fifth play of the series, and after a 25-yard loss, Bobby Henkel picked up the pigskin and gave it to the Dorado offense at midfield. It was one of many big defensive plays made by the Dorado front six on the night.
“Defensively,” said CDO coach Dustin Peace, “we had a great night. Our front six is the best I’ve had.”
That would include seniors David Catalano, Jesse Caldwell, Carson Martin, Mikel Kanoza and Henkel. Junior linebacker Blake Martinez led the team in tackles and sacks during the year.
“They did it,” Peace said. Apollo came in averaging 40 points a game, and “we held them to nine points.”
Carey continued to shine early, as he busted loose for 30 yards. Eddie Smith had a 21-yard run for a first down near the Hawks 20-yard line. A few plays later, Carey ran 10 yards for a touchdown and a 14-0 CDO lead in the first quarter.
This would not be an easy win. The Dorados had to play four quarters. You could blame it on turnovers — the Dorados had four of them — or a passing game with no completions, or you could just credit the Hawks offense.
That offense shone in the second quarter, when Apollo went on an 80-yard scoring drive. Quarterback Jonathan Brown, who was 18 for 34 for 267 yards on the night, completed three passes and ran for 28 yards on the drive. Brown “finds holes where other high school quarterbacks don’t see them,” Peace said. A five-yard touchdown pass closed the gap to 14-6, but the extra point failed.
The Hawks recovered a fumble with about four minutes left in the half. Brown fired completions of 23, 11 and eight yards to move the ball to the CDO 1. With about a minute left, Brown surged straight ahead for what looked like a touchdown. But Peace and his staff had called a time out before the ball was snapped. Brown was stopped on subsequent a keeper.
Then, on fourth down at the CDO 1, the Hawks disdained the field goal attempt and went for the score. Brown took the snap, and tried to go wide to the left, but Cooper Smith stopped him for a two-yard loss, so the lead stayed at 14-6.
“It would’ve been a different game,” said Dorado defender Carson Martin. “It helped us to get fired up after half.”
A scoreless third quarter had the Dorados offense sputtering with Carey on the sidelines.
Then, with 8:39 left in the game, Quintin Kime got free down the right sideline, and ran 49 yards for a touchdown and some breathing room at 21-9. Kime finished up with 54 yards, while Eddie Smith had 68 yards, supporting Carey and helping the Dorados rush for 302 yards.
The Hawks offense went back to work, desperately needing a touchdown. Martinez and Martin shared a sack. Brown moved the Hawks down to the Dorados 44-yard line with a 22-yard pass completion. Then the Dorados defense settled things once and for all.
Martin came up with a sack. After a running play, Martin nailed Brown for another sack. A fourth-down pass went incomplete.
“It showed how strong we were,” Martin said. “We needed to step up.”
Eddie Smith completed the scoring with a 30-yard touchdown run. He started out by breaking to the right, then cut back to the left and took it to the house.
The win reminded everyone that the Dorados have multiple weapons on offense and defense.
“I love my team,” said Carey.