The Canyon Del Oro football team has found themselves in a very unusual position. After a 22-7 loss to Cesar Chavez on their home field Friday night, the Dorados have dropped to 0-3 on the season.
There’s no doubt it’s difficult right now,” said CDO Head Coach Dustin Peace. “We’re not used to this as coaches. It’s been a long time since we’ve been 0-3. But our kids are going to respond. All we can do is stick together and battle next week.”
The Dorados showed promising defense as it frustrated the Chavez offense and limited their scoring. After blowout wins of 50-6 and 67-12 in their first two games, Chavez was held scoreless in the first quarter and only managed 7 points by halftime.
“Coaching a team that has starters on both sides of the ball where everybody plays offense and defense, I’m obviously excited about some of the things we did defensively,” said Peace.
It is on offense that the Dorados have struggled all season, and Friday night’s contest continued to highlight those holes. With little to no rushing game, the team has had to rely solely on passing to gain yardage, and that has not been sufficient enough.
“Offensively, we can’t quite move the ball right now,” Peace said. “We can’t run it, we feel like we have to throw it. Until we identify ourselves offensively, our defense needs to continue to hold up and keep us in ballgames. We’ve yet to be in the end zone in the first three quarters of a game so far. You know, these are high school kids and that’s a momentum killer for everybody.”
The first scoring play of the game came midway through the second quarter after an interception by the Chavez’s O.J. Cunningham, who carried the ball to the CDO 39-yard-line. The team converted on fourth and 2 at the 20-yard line for a first down, which opened up the opportunity to score on a touchdown pass from quarterback Arturo Macias to wide receiver Chasyi Bryant. From that point, the scoreboard would remain stagnant until the fourth quarter.
The Champions extended their lead to open up the fourth quarter off a 53-yard pass from Macias to Jaylyn Shans. Looking to pad their advantage even further, Chavez went for the onside kick, and was successful to regain possession of the ball. They were able to capitalize, scoring on a 5-yard touchdown run. They converted on a chaotic two-point conversion attempt, and went up 22-0 to secure the game.
“We really were in that game for about three and a half quarters,” Peace said. “Then they broke away with a big kick, got the offside kick, and then it was out of reach. Our kids fought, and they are bought into getting better, because we know we’re not there yet. We can beat that team. They’re a great team and they obviously outplayed us tonight, but we’re not quite who we need to be right now.”
The Dorados were finally able to avoid a shutout late in the fourth quarter. After moving downfield on a series of big plays, CDO scored on a 24 yard pass to tight end Jared Dubois. The Dorados had another chance to cut the deficit on their last drive, but were unable to get to the end zone.
The CDO coaches and players are not accustomed to these types of struggles. After many years as a state powerhouse football program, the Dorados find themselves at 0-3 for the first time since an 0-10 season in 1999.
However, Peace refuses to let himself or his players get discouraged.
“Right now we just gotta stick together,” Peace said. “This definitely isn’t us, and I don’t believe it will be us even next week. When we snap out of it, we can be a pretty good football team. That’s what we truly believe, and our kids just need to stick together and keep playing that way.”
The Dorados play Friday at Williams Field in Gilbert. The game will kick off at 7 p.m.