ST. GEORGE – The Desert Hills offense is starting to put things together, but it might be that no one notices because the Thunder defense keeps stealing the show.
For the second straight week Desert Hills allowed didn't allow its opponent inside the red zone in pitching yet another shutout, this time blanking North Sanpete 28-0.
"We're a little hit-and-miss on offense, but we know the defense is always going to be there," Thunder assistant coach Carl Franke said. "Our big thing is we want to really get after the quarterback and at the same time not give up a big play."
Desert Hills really did get after North Sanpete quarterback Rhett Bird. The junior signal-caller was sacked six times and was harassed every time he dropped back to pass.
"That's one heck of a quarterback," Desert Hills coach Jake Nelson said. "I think college coaches would be crazy not to give him a chance. We knew we really had to put pressure on him, because he can fling it."
The Hawks managed just 117 yards of offense on 59 plays, an average of less than two yards a play. Bird passed for 105 yards, but managed just 15-of-35 passing (43 percent) and the North Sanpete running game was practically nonexistent with just 12 yards on the ground.
Meanwhile, Chase Webster passed for three scores and Mike Needham rushed for 105 yards for Desert Hills, which matched its 3-0 start of last season. The Thunder have allowed just six points in three games this season.
"The important thing is that we're getting better each game," Nelson said. "The shutout wasn't that big for us. We put some younger kids in late in the game and I wanted to make sure they were playing just as hard and with as much intensity as the starters."
The first quarter was scoreless with the Thunder moving the ball well, but turning it over on a fumble and an interception.
Desert Hills finally broke the scoreless tie on a 49-yard catch-and-run play from Webster to Needham.
"We run a lot of plays for Mike where we get him in the open field one-on-one with a defender and tell him to just go make a play," Franke said. "That's what he did on that one."
Needham doubled the pleasure for Thunder fans just before halftime on a one yard dive on fourth down to make it 14-0.
The Thunder iced the game with a pair of touchdown tosses by Webster in the second half. His 38-yard to Corbin Fitzgerald with 4:10 to go in the third quarter made it 21-0.
Webster finished the scoring on the night with a 7-yard pass on a slant to wide receiver Tanner Atkin on the first play of the fourth quarter.
It was Desert Hills' homecoming and Nelson said that contributed to his team's slow start.
"I could see it in there eyes that there was a lot going on," he said. "After all, these are 16- and 17-year old kids. Some of them are utterly exhausted and it's not from the football game, but from homecoming week."
The Hawks fell to 1-2 and got defensive interceptions from Cameron Weston and Aaron Lee.
Copyright 2015, Deseret News Publishing Company