A game that lived up to it’s billing.
The two best teams in division III faced off in one of the more exciting state championship games that you will see. In the end, it was Desert Edge that came from behind and held on to win late, 29-27 over Paradise Valley for the 2015 state championship.
With two of the better offensive attacks in the state, it would only make sense that this game would begin with the defenses making all the plays. Paradise Valley would miss on some big plays down field while Desert Edge struggled to finish drives to put points on the board. For the Scorpions, defensive end Dante Blissit was all over the place sacking the elusive PV quarterback Daniel Bridge-Gadd three times in the first half. For PV, senior linebacker Grayson Fattaleh was an animal and was a big part in preventing the Desert Edge run game from getting into a rhythm. Paradise Valley led 7-0 at the half.
The second half was another story.
Both teams game out firing. Desert Edge would get their run game going behind their star juniors, quarterback Tehran Thomas and running back RoShaun Johnson, who would score two of the three touchdowns in the quarter. Paradise Valley would match every play and hold a 21-20 lead after three quarters.
In the fourth, Bridge-Gadd dialed up his man and fellow senior Jacob Brown for a big 46 yard touchdown to make it 27-23 with just under six minutes left in the game. Bridge-Gadd in the game would be 28 for 48 for 408 yards passing and three touchdowns. Brown would have 11 catches for 205 yards and that one score.
Desert Edge would then lead a long methodical drive for the go-ahead score. On a fourth and five, Thomas stood in the pocket and with nothing open down field, proceeded to tuck and run for a 40 yard gain down to the one yard line. He would score two plays later to make it 29-27 after a missed extra point. Thomas on the game rushed for 214 yards and threw for 138 with a passing touchdown.
Paradise Valley with under two minutes to go would have one last shot to take it down the field and win the game. Bridge-Gadd would lead the team all the way into Scorpion territory and on third down, trying to make a play late, the senior would get sacked by Blissit. It was his fourth of the game. The Trojans would try to rush a field goal to win it and Devin Moon would miss it off to the left.
“Tough to put into words,” said Desert Edge Coach Rich Wellbrock while fighting back tears. “Just happy for these guys. Happy for my staff…and of course for Desert Edge high school. What a deal for Desert Edge high school.”
For Desert Edge, it is their first state championship in school history.