Deer Valley football added a new chapter to its program, but it first had to turn the page on Centennial.
The two programs were embroiled in a well-publicized recruiting investigation this season. With the two teams meeting again for the second time this season, more questions about the past were bound to come up.
Those questions, however, and Centennial’s impressive state semifinal streak are old news. The focus can now turn to Deer Valley’s 20-14 Friday road upset of Centennial and the first state semifinal appearance for Deer Valley’s program.
“After going 2-8 last year and getting to the final four this year, it is quite amazing,” Deer Valley coach Eric Bolus said.
The win by the state’s No. 12 seed snapped Centennial’s nine-year state semifinal streak.
Deer Valley lost its first meeting to Centennial, 34-7, this season, as Centennial’s offensive line and run game wore down Deer Valley. This time, Deer Valley loaded the box with nine players most of the night, daring Centennial to pass.
That strategy kept Centennial’s ground game from breaking free for long gains, with the exception of a couple of plays. But Centennial also had a big hand in helping Deer Valley advance.
Trailing 14-7 with 6:54 remaining in the game, Centennial’s punter put a knee down before punting the ball, giving Deer Valley the ball at Centennial’s 33-yard line.
A late hit penalty on Centennial advanced the ball to the 14. And three plays later, on third-and-12 from the 16, Deer Valley quarterback Devon Palomino threw the pass of the game when he rolled out and slung a pass to Logan Adcock to set up a first and goal at the 2.
Amyer Armstrong’s 2-yard touchdown eventually gave Deer Valley a 20-7 lead with 4:36 left.
“Logan made an amazing catch,” Palomino said. “That was one of the happiest moments of my life. I couldn’t believe he caught it.”
Palomino didn’t throw an interception and was on target most of the night.
No. 4 seed Centennial (10-2) scored with 20 seconds remaining after sophomore quarterback Isaac Steele connected with Tyler Simpson on a 43-yard touchdown pass. But Deer Valley (9-3) recovered Centennial’s ensuing onside kick.
Steele was brought in during the second half.
Deer Valley’s defense made a couple of big stops in the game, none bigger than a 4th and 2 stand against Centennial at Deer Valley’s 7-yard line in the second quarter. Deer Valley went into halftime with a 7-0 lead thanks to a first quarter 22-yard touchdown catch by Jacob Dennis.
The pass was first tipped by a Centennial defender before the ball landed in Dennis' hands.
Deer Valley walked away with the victory, but one of its star defensive lineman, Marlon Roberts, left the game limping. Roberts appeared to injure an ankle in the third quarter and didn’t return.
Roberts’ backup also was injured, forcing a Deer Valley offensive lineman into action on defense for the first time.
Deer Valley will need all the help it can get next week when it faces No. 1 seed Salpointe. But after beating Centennial and everything else it has faced this season, nothing now seems impossible for Deer Valley.