Being last year’s 3A state runner-up, you wouldn’t think people would have a hard time recognizing the Desert Hills football team.
But the Thunder came into Cedar City on Friday on a mission to introduce themselves to Region 9.
“The kids set a goal this week that they wanted to tell everyone who we really were,” Thunder coach Carl Franke said. “They want to prove to everyone that they’re as good as they really are.”
Any doubters were quickly silenced as Desert Hills exploded in its region opener against Canyon View by crushing the Falcons 56-7.
Ty Rutledge threw touchdowns of 10, 23 and 42 yards and ran for three more as the Thunder scored on their first eight possessions and put the game away before the first quarter had ended.
“We worked hard this week,” Rutledge said while refusing to take any credit for the win, instead giving all the praise to his line. “It was all linemen in this game. They worked really hard (tonight). They put up those 56 points, not us skill guys.”
Desert Hills’ offensive line made itself known on the game’s first play, opening a hole for running back Bridger Cowdin, who ran 60 yards to paydirt to give the Thunder a quick lead and quiet the previously rowdy Falcon home crowd.
Desert Hills then proceeded to put on a clinic in efficiency, gaining yardage in large chunks and moving the ball at will against an outsized Canyon View defense.
Three drives totaling 11 plays that saw Rutledge run for three scores widened the Thunder’s lead to 27-0 before the first quarter was over.
The highlight of the scoring blitz was a 58-yard scamper with 4:38 to go that showed just how mobile Rutledge can be.
“It was supposed to be a pass, but it ended up a blown play,” Rutledge said. “The outside (linebacker) came off the edge and I had to try and make him miss. Luckily I got into the end zone.”
Canyon View finally got on the board in the second quarter when Koy Huxford hit Keaton Kringlen over the middle and Kringlen outran the Thunder’s defense in a 56-yard foot race to the end zone.
But touchdown passes on the Thunder’s next three possessions blew the game wide open and gave Desert Hills a 49-7 halftime lead.
Rutledge finished the game with 139 yards on 5-of-7 passing and sat the second half out as the replacements took the field.