It’s 4A state playoff season and for No. 2 Canyon del Oro, the quest for a state championship continues as the Dorados notched a 45-20 victory over the No. 15 Poston Butte Broncos at Dorados Stadium on Thursday night.
CDO (11-0) will host No. 10 Arizona College Prep (7-3) in the quarterfinals of the playoffs Friday at 7 p.m.
The Dorados’ hard-hitting running game and stifling defense have been the keys to their success and the reason the Dorados finished the regular-season 4A Kino region champions with a 10-0 record.
The Dorados didn’t drop the keys in the first-round game.
CDO’s defense held the Poston Butte offense scoreless in the first half and allowed a total of 297 yards for the game. Most of those yards were gained in the third quarter.
Leading 38-0 coming out of the half, CDO coach Dustin Peace substituted some of the starters.
“The second half, I’ll be honest, I made a bad decision early. I pulled the reigns off a little bit too early. But it was good that everybody was able to get in also. People work hard around here.” Peace said.
Poston Butte took advantage of the Dorados’ decision to pull back.
At the 6:48 mark in the third quarter, Broncos quarterback Mason Lloyd broke free for a long quarterback keeper to put Poston Butte in the red zone.
On the next play, Broncos running back Michael Whitman broke the line for a touchdown.
The extra point was blocked by CDO’s middle linebacker Nick Mondragon.
After recovering an on-side kick, Poston Butte added another touchdown when Lloyd found receiver Terraude Kisto in the end zone.
The two point conversion try was successful putting 14 on the board for the Broncos in the final minutes of the third quarter.
Poston Buttes final score came with 5:34 left in the game on a Lloyd quarterback keeper. The two point conversion was unsuccessful.
The Broncos’ defense held CDO scoreless in the third quarter.
While the CDO defense was doing its work, so was the Dorados’ offense .
Running back Kayden Luke racked up 244 yards and three touchdowns on 17 carries.
ViJay King (five carries for 26 yards) and Adrian Davidson (six rushes for 54 yards and a touchdown) added to the Dorados’ 348 rushing yards.
The Dorados put up 21 points in the first quarter on an offensive mix of running and passing.
The offensive line opened a big hole that Luke took advantage of, scoring on a 23-yard run with 7:53 left in the first quarter.
Luke on his offensive line and how they make his job possible: “We did super good up front. Our guys were super physical and they got it done. I can’t thank them enough because without them this, me running the ball would never happen. Huge thank you to those guys.”
After Poston Butte fumbled the ensuing kickoff, Evan Greer added a 6-yard touchdown run, putting the Dorados up 14-0.
As the quarter was coming to an end, quarterback Tristen McClelland found tight end Ryan Madsen for a 59-yard scoring pass, putting the Dorados up 21-0.
In the second quarter, Luke scored his second and third touchdowns with runs of 44 yards and 58 yards, respectively.
The 58-yard touchdown was a grown-man run as Luke barreled through multiple defenders, toeing the sideline to find the end zone.
Luke on his final touchdown run: ” I kind of read my receiver who was blocking up that corner. I kind of read it a little bit, I felt inside flow so I kind of bounced it a little bit and tip-toed along the sideline and kept it in and we got it done.”
Before the end of the half, CDO kicker Reece Douglas nailed a 35-yard field goal, putting the Dorados up 38-0 going into the half.
Douglas, a sophomore, has been automatic on extra-points this year and has been able to hit the needed field goal when called upon.
“I want Coach Peace to feel as comfortable as possible having to send out the field goal unit,” Reece said. “I can tell you, I was surprised when he (Peace) put me out there. I was expecting for us to go for it. I just want to stay ready and I’m just waiting for my opportunity. Just trying to stay strong and keep at it.”
On his snapper and holder: “My snapper Grant Young, he’s tremendous. He’s one of a kind, and Austin Greer, my holder, those two deserve a lot of credit for it. I couldn’t be where I am without those two.”
CDO’s final score of the game came when Davidson ran into the end zone from 26 yards.
“With the first game of the playoffs over,” Peace reflected, “coming in tomorrow at 8:00 a.m. — our season continues. Not a lot of football teams get to do that, so we are going to be very grateful for that opportunity.”
“Waking up tomorrow on a holiday coming in at 8:00 a.m. our kids are excited about it. That’s when we know we have enough gas in the tank to keep this thing going.”
CDO misplaced their kicking net. To stay warm, the kickers were practicing kicks during a time out. This resulted in a 15-yard unsportsmanlike penalty on the Dorados. Hopefully the net can be found before Friday’s quarterfinal game.