Desert Mountain relies on running game to beat Willow Canyon

Desert Mountain relies on running game to beat Willow Canyon


Desert Mountain relies on running game to beat Willow Canyon


Almost by default, Scottsdale Desert Mountain has become a two-dimensional offense.

With success this season through the air, starting quarterback Kyle Allen was forced to bench, due to a back injury, in the second quarter of Friday night’s game. That changed Desert Mountain’s offensive approach, and coach Tony Tabor was forced to go with the ground game.

A smash-mouth approach, coupled with timely execution carried Desert Mountain to a 43-21 over host Surprise Willow Canyon in a Division I game.

With Allen out, junior running back Daniel Fedorka and junior fullback Joe Duran carried the offense. In the end, Desert Mountain picked up 260 yards on 39 carriers, and Fedorka finished with 148 yards (16 carries) and two touchdowns.

Duran added 61 yards on 15 carries and Allen completed 4-of-5 passes for 41 yards and a touchdown before he was forced to the sidelines.

“Because our offense is based on the pass, I was worried whether we could run the ball,” Tabor said. “It was a challenge for us but we had to do it. In the end, we discovered two new weapons for us and that’s huge.”

Tabor indicated both Fedorka and Duran had few carries between them, and said the newly-found value of the running game, “is a big step for us.”

Plus, the defense made a major contribution.

Defensive back Steven Campbell had two interceptions for Desert Mountain (7-1) and Duran had one. As well, the defense recorded a safety when Willow Canyon quarterback Tristan Madden was called for intentional grounding in the end zone.

Still, emergence of the Desert Mountain running game forced Willow Canyon (5-2) into adjustments.

“We wanted to force (Allen) into a running game,” Willow Canyon coach Mike Hudnutt said. “When (Allen) went down, they had to run the ball. But our kids hung in and showed great resiliency. We have about nine guys out for the season, and others have stepped in. We try and make things interesting.”

Desert Mountain broke this game open when they scored two touchdowns within 1:39 late in the second quarter.

First, Fedorka scored on a 22-yard blast up the middle with 4:00 left in the half. After Campbell’s first of his two picks, Duran later scored on a 4-yard run with 2:21 remaining in the first half. That put Desert Mountain up 20-0 at that point, and the closest Willow Canyon could reach was 20-6 when Antony Thompson scored on a 41-yard run with 1:02 left before halftime.

Replacing Allen midway through the second period, junior Greg Frasco went 5-for-7 for 92 yards and a touchdown. He also picked up 28 yards on four carries and a touchdown run from 20 yards out with 8:10 remaining in the third period.

Thompson led all runners with 181 yards on 21 carries, three touchdowns and a 2-point conversion. Madden finished with a 9-for-19 night, 101 yards and three picks.

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