Desert Edge and Liberty were both undefeated coming into their showdown in Peoria, Ariz., on Friday night.
The Scorpions defense was extremely stingy coming into the game, giving up less than 10 points per game in their seven wins.
On Friday night, they would be even stingier, as they harassed Liberty quarterback Tyler Rogers all game long, not allowing him a second to breathe and create any offense.
Because of that tenacity on defense, the offense was able to shine, led by senior running back Kyle Woolard.
Woolard had two touchdown runs on the night, as the Scorpions silenced the Lions at home 26-0.
With the win, Desert Edge ups their record to 8-0, placing them in a four-way tie for first place in the Division III standings.
The Scorpions also exacted a bit of revenge on the Lions. Liberty beat Desert Edge 43-42 last season.
Liberty falls to 7-1 with the loss, and also fell well below their scoring average of 51 points per game.
It seemed like the game would head to halftime deadlocked at zero, as neither team really mounted an offensive attack, due to mistakes and penalties from both teams, which neutralized many drives.
However, Desert Edge got the scoring started with less than one minute left in the second quarter, as Woolard got the first of his two touchdowns in the red zone to give the Scorpions a 7-0 lead.
Lions quarterback Tyler Rogers would throw one of his two interceptions (both to Woolard) during their very next possession, giving Desert Edge great field position with seconds left before the intermission.
Desert Edge quarterback Sawyer Lung would make them pay for their mistake, finding wide receiver Ismael Murphy-Richardson deep down the middle of the field for a touchdown, upping their lead to 14-0 at halftime.
The Scorpions would add a field goal and a safety in the third quarter to make it 19-0. And with their defense, it seemed like ball game at that point, as Liberty had no answer whatsoever offensively.
Woolard would add another touchdown – his twelfth of the season – in the quarter to provide Desert Edge with their final points of the night.
Desert Edge head coach Rich Wellbrock says he didn’t see his team going on the road to Liberty and pitching a shutout.
“Oh absolutely not,” Wellbrock said. “If somebody would’ve told me at the beginning of the week that we’d shut them out, I would’ve told them they were crazy.”
Wellbrock gave credit to his defensive players, as well as his defensive coordinator Travis Guiney for shutting down the Lions offense.
“We had to adjust a little bit when they got a couple plays, but how exciting for our kids to come out and get a shutout in such a big game in a big stage,” Wellbrock said.
Woolard – a former linebacker – converted to running back this season, because in his words “that’s what we need.” He says he’s grateful for the opportunity to help out his team in any way he can.
“It’s a wonderful feeling,” Woolard said, when referencing their 8-0 record. “I can’t even explain it right now, I’m just on a natural high right now.”
Woolard says he’s going to come down off that high quickly and get back on the grind, because there’s a lot of football left after Friday night.
Woolard knows the state title wasn’t handed out after the game, so to him, the team hasn’t proven anything yet.
“We’re not close to the playoffs, we have a lot of work to do on both sides of the ball,” he said.