For much of its season, Glendale Deer Valley played without knowing if it would be eligible to participate in the playoffs.
But after a lengthy review process centering on a pair of transfers that ended with the Arizona Interscholastic Association lifting the program’s probation, the school finally got its wish — a chance to play postseason football.
Armed with an opportunity the team thought it might not get, 12th-seeded Deer Valley took full advantage Friday night, blowing out previously unbeaten and fifth-seeded Phoenix Sunnyslope 40-16 in the first round of the DivisionII playoffs.
Deer Valley earns a quarterfinal date next week with No. 4 Peoria Centennial.
“It’s incredible, the kids have worked so hard and never let all the stuff that we’ve gone through this season get them down,” Deer Valley coach Eric Bolus said. “I couldn’t be more proud of them.”
Leading the way for Deer Valley on Friday was the balanced air attack of senior quarterback Devon Palomino combined with the hard-nosed rushing of senior tailback Amyer Armstrong. Palomino finished 13 of 19 for 175 yards and a touchdown, while Armstrong tallied more than 150 yards and two scores.
“We do everything together and tonight was the perfect example of that,” Bolus said. “I’m real happy for our guys.”
Trailing 10-6 midway through the second quarter, Deer Valley (8-3) took control of the game thanks to a barrage of backbreaking plays over the final six minutes of the half. After an Armstrong 1-yard touchdown run gave Deer Valley its first lead of the game, Sunnyslope (10-1) fumbled the ensuing kickoff, leading to a Palomino 26-yard touchdown pass moments later. Logan Adcock capped off the explosive stretch for Deer Valley on Sunnyslope’s next drive, intercepting a pass and returning it 49 yards for a score.
With Sunnyslope still within striking distance down 26-16, Deer Valley put the game on ice when Chanel Roberts returned the opening kickoff of the third quarter 85 yards for a touchdown.