Going into Thursday night’s game, No.7 Desert Oasis was on the fast track to a second-place finish in the Southwest League — and the home playoff game in the Sunset Region playoffs that went along with it — leaving the Diamondbacks with the potential for a letdown at Clark.
Instead, Desert Oasis’ offense struck early and often, and their defense engulfed the Chargers as the Diamondbacks built a 35-0 halftime lead on the way to a 35-7 victory to cap their regular-season schedule.
Devin Fortenberry, who had 19 carries for 92 yards and a pair of touchdowns, said the game was still significant to his team despite its playoff position being nearly a conclusion.
“It was very big,” Fortenberry said. “It showed us what we need to work on going into the playoffs, but it also showed what we’ve done so far.”
Desert Oasis will clinch the No. 2 seed out of the Southwest if Bishop Gorman defeats Durango in the Gaels’ regular-season finale by at least seven points. The Diamondbacks hold the tiebreaker over the Trailblazers by virtue of a 42-19 win on Oct. 22.
The Diamondbacks rolled from their first possession. Clark punted after the first possession of the game, and Desert Oasis’ Mark Fredricks returned it 80-yards to the Clark 4-yard line.
Fortenberry ran for the short TD on the next play, and the Diamondbacks (8-2, 7-1 Southwest) had the lead for good.
Fortenberry added a 15-yard touchdown run later in the first half.
Quarterback Trevon Barnes threw a 58-yard TD pass to Jordyn Compehos, and had a 56-yard touchdown run for Desert Oasis in the first quarter to push the lead to 20-0.
On defense, Inas Santiago piled up a 24-yard fumble recovery for a touchdown and a sack for Desert Oasis, which outgained Clark, 222-29, in the first half.
“We just had to focus. We could not underestimate them,” Santiago said. “We had to treat tonight like it was the playoff game.”
Though it wasn’t really a playoff game for the Diamondbacks, the defeat put a serious damper on the playoff hopes of the Chargers (3-6, 3-4). Clark will have to win at Spring Valley next week and get some help to qualify.
“It’s a great win tonight. But I’m looking forward to us getting better,” Fortenberry said.
Santiago added: “I’m excited. I’m very excited. I can’t wait.”