The Dysart Demons had quite a home finale Friday night.
In their next-to-last game of the regular season, the Demons were cooking in every phase, coming up with five sacks and a pick-six on defense, a recovered onside kick that led to a touchdown, and 369 total yards of offense in their 41-22 drubbing of the Paradise Honors Panthers in El Mirage.
In two explosive bursts alone, Dysart scored two touchdowns in a 27-second span just before halftime, and later registered two touchdowns in a 10-second span in the fourth quarter.
“All week we’ve been running the same plays as the two weeks before, and we’re trying to perfect it, to perfect our craft,” said senior slotback Tryston Oliver, who levied much of the damage with 248 rushing yards and two touchdowns himself. “We came into this game prepared to run our plays, move the ball slowly but surely up the gut and get our yards, get the first down and score, and bring the defense out.”
While the defense had plenty of game balls to hand out, Panthers quarterback Gage Baker managed a monster night. The sophomore kept the Paradise Honors offense in the game on a night he would finish 33-of-46 passing for 399 yards and two touchdowns.
The Demons’ D picked him twice, though, including that pick-six early in the fourth quarter. Senior safety Michael Clymer had a perfect read on a route when he snared one and ran it in from 26 yards out, and in the first period senior corner Edward Barker stepped into a lane to pick one off and return it 56 yards, which set up a nine-yard touchdown run by senior running back Badaway Eisa less than two minutes later.
Dysart indeed came to play despite the players being off their routine on a week of fall break.
“It’s kind of hard to get the kids focused,” Demons head coach John Ganados said, “but we went early in the mornings and it worked for us. It was a great win.”
Part of that preparation paid off by recovering a trick onside kick in the final minute of the first half.
On a 4th and 2 call at the Paradise Honors 42-yard line, Oliver swept around the left side and took it all the way for a thrilling touchdown sprint with just 46 seconds left before the half. On the Dysart sideline, Ganados immediately called for the Demons’ onside team, and the unit delivered to set up shop for the offense just seconds later at the Panthers’ 48.
Demons sophomore quarterback Kye Brown connected with Clymer on a 47-yard pass play, and Brown on the next snap plunged in from the 1-yard line to give Dysart two touchdowns in 27 seconds just before the halftime horn.
The Demons were able to control the tempo — and the clock — for much of the way after that, thanks in large part to 177 rushing yards in the second half.
There may be a budding rivalry between the two West Valley campuses, which are only six miles apart.
“It’s more of a crosstown rivalry now because they’re the only 3A school within the vicinity, and there’s a lot of kids that don’t want to come to school (here) and it just feels good that our kids played hard and they’ve been putting up some points,” Ganados said. “We just came out and played a great football game. We finally put it together.”
The Demons have now won two straight after a three-game skid, but the recent surge may not be enough to get Dysart into the playoffs. The team closes out the regular season next week at Odyssey Institute in Buckeye, which is limping into its finale with a 1-8 record, but the Demons’ current No. 24 ranking figures to keep them on the outside looking in when the 16-team 3A state tournament opens Nov. 5.
The Panthers, meanwhile, got 99 yards receiving and a rushing touchdown from sophomore wideout Isaiah Thomas Friday night. Sitting at 3-6 on the season and now having surrendered 41 points in back-to-back games, Paradise Honors will play out their 2021 schedule at home in Surprise next week against Bourgade Catholic, which throttled Cortez 35-0 on Friday.
The final AIA regular-season football rankings come out Tuesday, Oct. 26.
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