Senior wideout Elijah Marks has received a great deal of publicity for Goodyear Desert Edge this season, and rightly so.
But the Scorpions’ offense has many more offensive elements that can do damage against opposing defenses.
Visiting Phoenix Thunderbird,was the victim on Friday night (Nov. 8) as Desert Edge opened the Division III playoffs with a 56-26 victory.
Desert Edge, the state runner-up in 2012 and No. 3 seed entering this season’s playoffs, remained unbeaten at 11-0. The Scorpions will host a quarterfinal game on Nov. 15 against No. 6 Surprise Shadow Ridge, which defeated No. 11 Tucson Catalina Foothills 51-41.
Desert Edge defeated Shadow Ridge 63-28 on Sept. 20.
Marks got his big numbers – 15 catches for 153 yards and a touchdown. But Jordan Jackson also made a significant contribution with 15 catches for 191 yards and three TDs.
Someone has to throw them the ball, and quarterback Anthony Hernandez was on target most of the night, completing 39 of 47 passes for 440 yards and five TDs. He also scored on a 1-yard run.
And freshman running back Roshaun Johnson -- yes, a freshman – rushed for 96 yards on 12 carries and caught four passes for 25 yards.
Thunderbird (7-4), the No. 14 seed, got a solid effort from its quarterback, Jake Glatting, who completed 18 of 27 passes for 278 yards and three TDs. He also rushed for a score. All of his scoring strikes went to Adam Turner, who caught nine passes for 146 yards.
Thunderbird also got a scare with four minutes left in the game. Sophomore all-purpose player Kaleb Hofer appeared to suffer a head or neck injury after catching a pass. Medical staff checked his vital signs as he lay on the field, and paramedics and an ambulance were summoned. He was taken to a nearby medical facility for further evaluation.
Hofer caught six passes for 65 yards and rushed for 50 yards.
“Our offense did well in the first half, and our defense played real well at times, but we need more consistency,’’ said Desert Edge coach Rich Wellbrock.
Wellbrock’s offense works the sideline with its passing game, with occasional passes over the middle and even some deep balls. The inclusion of Johnson is a key factor.
“It allows us to change the tempo, and that puts pressure on the defense,’’ Wellbrock said.
He said he will make sure he and his coaches will prepare their players for Shadow Ridge.
“They are very big and physical,’’ he said.