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CDO coach Dustin Peace on Wednesday told Steve Rivera and Jay Gonzales of the Fox Sports “Eye on the Ball” radio show on 1450-AM that the Dorados have “responded really well” to the off-the-field adversity the team has faced this season.
CDO is 10-2 and in the state semifinals (playing at 9-3 Snowflake on Friday night at 7) for the first time since 2010 despite losing six starters, five of them seniors, midway through the season because of the zero-tolerance 24-7 rule the Amphitheater School District enforces for alcohol, tobacco and drug use, including off-campus.
If that rule is broken, the player is dismissed from the team.
The Amphi School Board has since proposed an optional tiered approach that will be discussed in April 2023 as part of the Governing Body’s study of the 2023-24 Student Code of Conduct.
The tiered approach would include consequences for a first, second and third violation as follows:
“We’ve had a answer on a lot of different guys having to do a lot of different things that we were not prepared to do drawing it up at the beginning of the year,” Peace told Rivera and Gonzales. “They’re stepping into these roles and really taking over.
“Just like any major adversity that goes through a program, you have two ways to respond to it and I think our entire team has responded really well to it. Our six boys that we think about every single day are doing the best they can every single day, too, to get through this time as well.”
MCCLELLAND & THOMAS HAVE STEPPED UP
Junior quarterback Tristen McClelland and senior running back transfer Jordan Thomas have been essential to help CDO overcome the adversity.
Thomas sat out CDO’s first five games per AIA’s transfer rule after joining the Dorados this school year from Ironwood Ridge. In six games since, CDO is 5-1. He has rushed for 341 yards on 50 carries with two touchdowns.
Including two varsity seasons with Ironwood Ridge, Thomas has gained 1,511 yards on 200 carries with 18 touchdowns.
McClelland has completed 69 of 111 attempts for 1,378 yards with 17 touchdowns and nine interceptions.
CDO’s overall rushing attack has complemented McClelland very well with junior Jose Alba (769 yards on 111 carries with six touchdowns) emerging as one of the top backs in Southern Arizona. Alba and Kayden Luke, who will return as a senior in 2023, project to be one of the best running back combos in the state next season.
PEACE BE WITH THEM
Before CDO defeated Thunderbird 28-3 last week, Peace was 0-3 in quarterfinal games dating to the 2010 run to the state championship game against Scottsdale Saguaro (lost by the Dorados 41-34).
The Dorados lost 29-26 to Williams Field in 2013 to end 10-2, 41-22 against Saguaro to finish 9-3 and 38-27 to Glendale last year to end 7-5.
Peace coached CDO, which had the likes of Ka’Deem Carey and Blake Martinez, to the state title in 2009 in his first season as a head coach. That team went 14-0, capped by a 40-0 win over Sabino in the championship game.
The 41-year-old coach reached 100 career wins this season and is 105-49 in his 14th year as head coach.
He joined Pat Nugent’s staff at CDO as a defensive coordinator in 2002 after playing for Nugent at Flowing Wells and continuing his career at NAU before completing his college education at Arizona. In his 21 years with the CDO program, the Dorados have a record of 164-71 with three trips to the state championship game.
NO. 6 CDO (10-2)Dorados compete in the 4A Kino. *Region game. # Game at Phoenix College. + 4A state playoffs. Games at 7 p.m.
|9/2||Walden Grove||W, 28-7||1-0|
|9/16||Desert View||W, 38-7||2-0|
|9/23||@ Marana||L, 40-37||2-1|
|9/30||@ St. Mary's#||W, 24-8||3-1|
|10/7||Catalina Foothills||W, 49-6||4-1|
|10/14||@ Douglas*||W, 49-6||5-1|
|10/28||@ Vista Grande*||W, 56-13||7-1|
|11/10||@ Mica Mountain*||L, 26-7||8-2|
|11/18||St. Mary's+||W, 13-7||9-2|
DEFENSE NEVER RESTS WITH CDO
Friday night’s game at Snowflake figures to be a defensive struggle with CDO limiting eight of its 12 opponents this season to eight points or less and the Lobos holding opponents to 16 points in their five-game winning streak after losing consecutive games against ALA-Gilbert North 31-21 and Apache Junction 31-10.
CDO has allowed only one touchdown in its postseason games against Phoenix St. Mary’s and Phoenix Thunderbird and Snowflake has not allowed a touchdown in victories over Phoenix Arcadia and Prescott.
Contributing to the thought of a low-scoring game: CDO and Snowflake are two run-oriented teams and the weather conditions at Snowflake are expected to be very cold with the temperature potentially in the 30s by the time the game ends.
Sophomore linebacker Evan Greer is a burgeoning prospect, leading the Dorados with 19 tackles for loss, including eight sacks.
Senior linebacker MJ Zamorano is another force with 10 tackles for loss among his 65 tackles.
Senior safety Mavrick Neustadter, whose brother Montana is a former quarterback with CDO, leads the team with 68 tackles.
Snowflake has one of the best linebacker trios in the state, all of them seniors — Matthew Brimhall, Bradden Lewis and Jordan Mowers — who led the Lobos to 3A state titles the previous two years before they went to the 4A conference this season.
Brimhall leads the state with 188 tackles (24.5 for loss). He had 15 tackles (four for loss) and an interception in last week’s 23-3 victory over Prescott.
Mowers has 106 tackles with 11.5 for loss and Lewis 100 with 9.5 for loss.
Mowers had two sacks against Prescott. He leads the team with 8.5.
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ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He is a former Arizona Daily Star beat reporter for the Arizona basketball team, including when the Wildcats won the 1996-97 NCAA title. He has also written articles for CollegeAD.com, Bleacher Report, Lindy’s Sports, TucsonCitizen.com, The Arizona Republic, Sporting News and Baseball America, among many other publications. He has also authored the book “The Highest Form of Living”, which is available at Amazon. He became an educator five years ago and is presently a special education teacher at Gallego Fine Arts Intermediate in the Sunnyside Unified School District.