Canyon Del Oro took a trip to Sahuarita on Friday night to play Walden Grove in hopes of extending its winning streak to four games after losing its first three games of the season, and the Dorados achieved that goal in the 4A Kino opener for both teams.
The Dorados (4-3, 1-0 in the 4A Kino) won the hard-fought game in spectacular fashion, taking the lead late and keeping it in a 42-21 victory.
CDO had to face some adversity early in the game, down by 14 in the first quarter. It looked like it would be the Red Wolves’ night, but the Dorados utilized their tough rushing attack to methodically pick away at Walden Grove’s defense.
CDO’s defense was also able to keep Walden Grove out of the end zone by forcing four turnovers.
CDO coach Dustin Peace, who celebrated his birthday on Friday, had high praise for his team for creating those crucial turnovers on defense and picking up tough yards on offense.
“We made it difficult early on in the game 14-0, and then we obviously settled down and it was 42-7 at that point,” said Peace. “Anytime you can rush the ball and create some turnovers, things are in your favor.”
Walden Grove started fast. Wide receiver Colby Gaines had two quick touchdowns, catching a 5-yard touchdown pass from Jason Stevens and returning a punt to the end zone, all within the span of three minutes.
CDOs offense found its rhythm in the second quarter. Sophomore fullback Kayden Luke, in his second game eligible after transferring from Ironwood Ridge, got the Dorados rolling following a drive that took six minutes off the clock. He was able to punch in the goal line touchdown to finish the drive.
He got his second rushing touchdown of the half with three minutes left off on a goal-line run off the left tackle.
Walden Grove struck first in the second half. Running back Zack Navarrete ran in the 1-yard touchdown after a muffed punt.
CDOs offense didn’t miss a beat coming back on to the field. Quarterback Cayden Dawes completed a 70-yard touchdown pass to Chance Cassel, another Ironwood Ridge transfer, to even the score at 21.
Then, with 1:24 remaining in the third quarter, Luke again had a rushing touchdown to put his team up 28-21.
His day wasn’t done there. Luke ran in another score from 5 yards to make it a multiple-possession lead with 11:28 left in the game.. The Dorados’ three unanswered touchdowns made it 35-21.
CDO ended the night with another 1-yard touchdown run to take the comfortable 42-21 lead deep in the fourth quarter.
Luke was the workhorse for the Dorados, totaling four rushing touchdowns. He was a big factor in putting together long drives that tired out the opposing defense.
Luke was overall happy that he had such a great night but gave credit to his offensive line for his play.
“I think our line blocked well, I think we ran the ball well. I think we kicked …,” he said. “It was a good game played, a lot of rushing yards. I think we passed the ball well. We could’ve done better but it was good.”
Walden Grove dropped to 2-5 overall and 0-1 in the 4A Kino.
The Dorados will travel Friday to Pueblo (3-3) as the Warriors begin 4A Kino play. The Red Wolves will have another home game against unbeaten Casa Grande (6-0, 1-0).
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Nathaniel Martinez is an aspiring sports journalist who is a Sahuaro High School graduate and Pima Community College student. He has written for the Aztec Press at Pima. While at Sahuaro, he played football for longtime coach Scott McKee and he wrestled for the Cougars.