2023 High School Football

Defenses surprisingly highlight No. 2 Mica Mountain and No. 3 CDO showdown

Canyon del Oro’s Grant Young with the tackle on Mica Mountain quarterback Jayden Thoreson (Gilbert Alcaraz/ Special AllSportsTucson.com)

The mentor and mentee, No. 2 against No. 3, two 6-0 teams looking to continue an undefeated season — for Canyon del Oro and Mica Mountain, Friday night’s game in Dorado Stadium was more than two 4A Kino foes facing off.

The storylines during the week leading up to the Thunderbolts’ matchup against the Dorados revolved around two head coaches with years of history, two teams with senior heavy rosters (CDO 29 and Mica Mountain 26) and the offensive output of both teams.

Dustin Peace, head coach at CDO, grew up under the tutelage of Mica Mountain’s head coach Pat Nugent. Peace played for Nugent at Flowing Wells from 1996 through 2000, joined Nugent’s coaching staff at CDO in 2002 and was hired as the Dorados head coach in 2009 when Nugent left to coach Pima Community College.

Headed into Friday’s game, Peace and his Dorados (7-0) were 0-3 against the Thunderbolts including a 26-7 loss last year in a battle for the 4A Kino title.

Mica Mountain (6-1), on an 11-game winning streak dating back to last year, was looking to help its coach go to 4-0 against his former school.

With Mica Mountain averaging 41.8 points per game and CDO averaging 42.2, it appeared Friday’s game would be a high scoring — punch-first and punch-back style game.

What evolved was a stellar game by both defenses in a 17-15 victory for CDO.

“I think in high school when there’s two great teams, defense usually wins the game.” Nugent said.

Sa’Kylee Woodard, CDO’s senior defensive tackle was a prime example of how defenses win games.

Woodard had a blocked PAT in the second quarter and a sack of Mica Mountain quarterback Jayden Thoreson on a potential game-tying two-point try with 32 seconds left in the game.

CDO got on the board first when Kayden Luke muscled into the end zone with 34.7 seconds left in the first quarter.

Luke scored both of CDO’s touchdowns. His second came on a 14-yard run in the fourth quarter.

With Mica Mountain trailing 17-9 in the final minutes of the game, Thoreson, a junior, led his team on a 78-yard touchdown drive getting the Thunderbolts within 2 points of CDO at 17-15. The comeback was thwarted by Woodard’s sack on the two-point conversion try.

Thoreson ended the night with 246 passing yards and two touchdowns.

While the ending wasn’t what Mica Mountain wanted, Nugent reminded his team of the big picture and what is still ahead.

“It’s a great high school football game,” Nugent said. “Not every team goes undefeated. Our goal is go to the state playoffs and win a state championship and that’s where we are at. If we don’t win a league title, that’s ok. We’ve got bigger things to look for.”

4A Kino regional matchups continue next Friday with Mica Mountain hosting Sahuaro and CDO traveling to Pueblo.


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