2023 High School Football

Unbeaten CDO wins fourth state title, first since 2009 with thriller over Yuma Catholic

CDO celebrates is first state title in 14 years and fourth championship overall (Andy Morales/AllSportsTucson.com)

TEMPE — Canyon del Oro coach Dustin Peace held the state championship trophy under one arm and the game ball with the other hand.

His voice was raspy and his nerves a little frayed.

He was the last of the Dorados’ coaches and players who left the field at ASU’s Mountain America Stadium on Friday night.

He had the look of a winning marathon runner, exasperated but elated.

“It hasn’t sunk in yet because the end was a nail-biter, so my nerves are trying to calm,” Peace said, “but forever we’ll celebrate this and I’m looking forward to that opportunity.”

His senior-laden team — the backbone and heart of a 14-0 season — withstood a late rally by Yuma Catholic to outlast the Shamrocks 35-27 in the 4A state title game.

CDO captured its first championship since 2009 and fourth overall.

After the Shamrocks looked like they would battle back from a 35-14 deficit in the fourth quarter, they were stopped on a fourth-and-3 play at CDO’s 15 with 2 seconds left.

A pass fell incomplete in the end zone. Three straight incompletions ended Yuma’s threat and the Shamrocks (13-1) suffered their first loss of the season.

Kayden Luke, one of the 29 seniors, already deserved to be spoken in the same sentence with CDO great Ka’Deem Carey, becoming the first Dorado running back to eclipse 2,000 yards rushing in a season this year since Carey achieved the feat in 2009.

He is now a state champion like Carey.

Luke rushed for 217 yards on 31 carries with two touchdowns against Yuma Catholic.

“It means everything to me,” Luke said of his performance. “I know my parents are standing back there prouder than hell because they made this possible and I just want to thank them. Thank you, God. Thank you everyone. I’m proud to make my family proud.”

CDO senior linebacker Grant Young was also a major player on defense with a significant sack and pick-6 in the second half. He finished with seven tackles.

Chase Laux scored two touchdowns on an 80-yard end-around play and 9-yard reverse.

CDO rushed for 371 yards on 50 carries while the Dorados’ defense limited Yuma Catholic to 40 yards on 20 rushes.

Remarkable: the Dorados completed only two passes total in the semifinal and championship rounds against Mica Mountain and Yuma Catholic but still dominated.

They completed 1 of 10 passes against the Thunderbolts last week and had only one completion in their lone attempt against the Shamrocks and that play went for minus-1 yard.

Kayden Luke of CDO finished with 217 yards rushing on 31 carries with two touchdowns in the Dorados’ 35-27 win over Yuma Catholic in the 4A state title game (Lexie Fegan/Special to AllSportsTucson.com)

“How nice is it for Kayden to show what we’ve had the opportunity to see all year, the last few years?” Peace said of Luke’s performance, which made a lack of a passing game obsolete.

“On the biggest stage, he’s taken care of business. I’m so happy for him.”

The Dorados capped their first unbeaten season since going 14-0 in their last championship season in 2009 with Carey rushing for 2,738 yards on 224 carries with 43 touchdowns that season as a junior.

Luke finished with 2,303 yards on 284 rushes with 29 touchdowns this season. That leads the state in rushing, topping the 2,145 yards gained by Apollo’s Adam Mohammed, an Arizona recruit.

Luke served notice from the beginning that his brute force at 5-foot-11 and 220 pounds would be tough for Yuma Catholic to reckon with.

He gained 75 yards on seven carries in CDO’s first possession of the game, capped by a 5-yard touchdown run with 4:26 left in the first quarter.

After Yuma Catholic answered with a touchdown drive, culminated by a Tayt Ford’s 3-yard scoring run, the Dorados struck back immediately.

Laux, a wideout, took the end-around 80 yards for a touchdown to put the Dorados ahead 14-7 with 11:42 left in the second quarter.

“My dad always tells me that big-time players make big-time plays in big-time games, so when I had those opportunities, to help my team out and put together plays like that, I had to take it and make it happen,” said Laux, a senior.

After Yuma Catholic was forced to punt, Luke overpowered the Shamrocks’ defense again.

He rushed five times for 59 yards in an 83-yard drive that ended with his 11-yard score with 2:39 left in the half.

Yuma Catholic quickly answered with Ott’s 35-yard pass to Hunter Hancock, cutting the lead to 21-14 with 1:13 remaining until halftime.

In the opening possession of the second half, Luke had a 61-yard run nullified by an illegal-motion call

Each team punted to start the second half and disaster almost struck against CDO when Yuma Catholic’s punt hit the leg of a Dorado and the Shamrocks recovered the ball at their 48.

Young then made his significant sack of 15 yards, however, to force Yuma Catholic to punt again.

CDO went 80 yards on 15 rushes, culminating with Laux’s 9-yard touchdown on a reverse play on a fourth-and-5 situation with 8 seconds left in the third quarter.

Young then took a pick-6 50 yards on Yuma Catholic’s second play of the next possession and CDO led 35-21 with 11:15 left.

“All I want to do is help out my team,” Young said. “Everything that we put in this year, all I wish is we come out on top like this. It means the world.”

Yuma Catholic scored two touchdowns over the next five minutes thanks to a successful onside kick in between.

The second score was a 1-yard run by Ford, but the PAT was wide right, and CDO led 35-27 with 6:10 left.

After CDO recovered another onside-kick attempt, the Dorados drove the ball to the Shamrock 21 but a fumbled snap on fourth-and-3 turned the ball over with 3:25 left.

Yuma Catholic converted a first down on a fourth-and-6 play at its own 47 with Ott completing a 17-yard pass to Darryl Coleman.

After converting on a fourth-and-1 play at the CDO 27 on a 5-yard pass from Ott to Hancock, the Shamrocks advanced to the 15 on a 7-yard connection from Ott to Sir Stokes.

Tight end Ryan Madsen was inserted at cornerback and Luke played defensive end during that last stand because of injuries, including an arm injury to standout defensive end Evan Greer.

Three straight incompletions — all in the end zone because Yuma Catholic was out of timeouts — brought the game to an end.

CDO went into victory formation with 2 seconds left.

The Dorados used a four-overtime victory over AZ College Prep in the quarterfinal round to their mental advantage while withstanding Yuma Catholic’s charge.

“Even though we weren’t clean there at the end, we kept our composure and it showed,” Peace said about the win over Yuma Catholic. “We talked about in those four overtimes, that’s where all that’s bred.

“Being in those tough situations, we were able to be there in the end.”

State Championship Southern Arizona Coaches

A list of head coaches who won state titles at Southern Arizona high schools. * - Game ended in a tie
1960CJim CrawfordSt. DavidTuba City
1961AALou FarberPuebloSt. Mary's
1964BDuane MorrisonMaranaWillcox
1965AAJohn MallamoTucsonYuma Union
1966AAJohn MallamoTucsonWestwood
1968BDon HawkinsMaranaRound Valley
1969AADick PottleSaffordWinslow
1970AAAOllie MayfieldTucsonSunnyslope
1971AAAOllie MayfieldTucsonTempe
1971AADick PottleSaffordFlowing Wells
1972CJim CrawfordSt. DavidFredonia
1973AAAVan HowePalo VerdeCamelback
1975AAAJerry LoperAmphiMaryvale
1975AALarry HartFlowing WellsSnowflake
1976AABob SmithCanyon del OroDouglas
1976ACliff MartinMorenciPage
1976CJohn MilfordTucson Deaf & BlindMayer
1977AABob SmithCanyon del OroGilbert
1977CJim CrawfordSt. DavidFredonia
1979AAAVern FriedliAmphiMesa
1979CJim CrawfordSt.DavidSalome
1981ADamon BeckerSan ManuelBuckeye
1982BPaul HanleyWillcoxBlue Ridge
1982CSteve SorceSuffolk HillsPima
1985CGary MauldinValley UnionWestern Christian
1986BJesse HughesThatcherWillcox
1986CGary MauldinValley UnionNW Christian
1987CBill HousePatagoniaValley Union
1988BEd ShameyThatcherHayden
1988CBill HousePatagoniaScottsdale Christian
19904AJeff ScurranSabinoPeoria
1991*1ABill HousePatagoniaFredonia
19924AJeff ScurranSabinoWashington
19934AWayne JonesMountain ViewSahuaro
1994*4AHoward BreinigSahuaro Peoria
19971AJohn BryantSt. David Mogollon
19984AJeff ScurranSabinoMesa Mountain View
19982AJim HughesThatcherQueen Creek
19981AJohn BryantSt. DavidOrme School
20002ADon ConradThatcherSt. Johns
20001AJohn BryantSt. DavidBagdad
20014ARichard SanchezSunnysideGreenway
20012ADon ConradThatcherPhoenix Christian
20011AJohn BryantSt. DavidJoseph City
20034ARichard SanchezSunnysideCactus
20054AD2Todd MayfieldPalo VerdeMingus Union
20062ADon ConradThatcherValley Christian
20071ATony LuzaniaValley UnionPima
20094ADustin PeaceCanyon del OroSabino
2012D2Matt JohnsonIronwood RidgeCentennial
2013D2Dennis BeneSalpointeChaparral
2015D4Troy CoppPusch RidgeNW Christian
20162ASean HintonThatcherRound Valley
20172ASean HintonThatcherSanta Cruz
20182ARamon MoralesThatcherRound Valley
20214AJake BarroCasa GrandePoston Butte
20233ARyan McBrayerSabinoParadise Honors
20234ADustin PeaceCDOYuma Catholic


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 in 2016 and is presently a special education teacher at Sunnyside High School in the Sunnyside Unified School District.

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