Winning streak must end for one of the Deserts in 5A-I semi

December 2, 2010 by Les Willsey, AZPreps365

Teams want to be playing their best football heading down the stretch. If winning streaks mean anything, that is exactly what Desert Ridge and Desert Vista high schools are doing at present.

Desert Ridge (9-3), the No. 10 seed,  takes on Desert Vista (10-2) Friday night at 7 at Mesquite High in one of the 5A-I semifinal games. The winner advances to face the  Hamilton-Mountain Pointe winner on Dec. 13 at  University of Phoenix Stadium.

Desert Ridge has won seven games in a row and done it with two different quarterbacks. The starter at the beginning of the regular season, Parker Rasmussen, was injured in a win over Westwood on Oct. 29 and hasn't played since. In Rasmussen's stead it's been junior Jordan Becerra, who has turned the Jaguars into a run-first team rather than a pass-first squad. Rasmussen was cleared to resume play last week and is available. That opens up the possibilities for coach Jeremy Hathcock.

Becerra as the Jaguars starter at quarterback the last three games, has put up 515 rushing yards in triumphs over Perry, Chandler and Gilbert. His high is 218 and low is 128.

Becerra's partner in rushing crime is Joey Counts, who surpassed the 1,000-yard mark after gaining 113 yards against Gilbert. He is the first running back in school history to break the 1,000-yard mark in a season (1,064) and has rushed for 100 yards or more in six consecutive games.

Desert Vista, which hasn't lost since September when it dropped a 35-17 decision to Hamilton, has won its last eight games. The Thunder haven't beaten many opponents into submission, but play to the level of the competition (10-6 win over one-win Corona del Sol)and a 34-20 win over 10-win Salpointe). They've shown character in come-from-behind wins in their first two playoff games.

"Character is a good word to describe it," Desert Vista coach Dan Hinds said. "This group has it. We lost  several close cames last year, we've won more of those this year. Character has a lot to do with it."

Desert Vista is led by dual- threat back Mike Ingrassia, a state champion in the 300 hurdles two years ago, who has 1,552 yards rushing and receiving. Ingrassia is averaging 13 yards every time he runs or catches the ball.

I think with Desert Vista you have to look at how they've played the last month," Hathcock said. "That defines them more. They are getting the ball in the hands of their state champion (Ingrassia). He's a special kid and tough to stop."

Hinds said the return to action of Mike Arredondo and Sean Coffinger from injuries in early October has been a huge boost. Both were not on the field in losses to Mountain Pointe and Hamilton. 

"Desert Ridge has a lot of weapons and it's hard to know how they'll come out," Hinds said. "We go in focusing on trying to stop 5 (Becerra) and 4 (Counts)."