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September 16, 2021

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Canyon Springs clinches No. 2 seed in playoffs with win over Desert Pines

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The Canyon Springs football team clinched the No. 2 seed in the Sunrise Northeast Division on Thursday with a 38-14 home victory over Desert Pines.

Pioneers sophomore running back Donnel Pumphrey rushed for 159 yards and two touchdowns on just four carries. Pumphrey had two touchdown rushes of more than 60 yards with one coming from 80 yards out and the other from 63 yards.

“It feels good. It’s a team performance. We had a good week of practice and we can’t wait until next week,” Pumphrey said.

Canyon Springs will host Silverado next Friday in the first round of the playoffs. Silverado defeated Del Sol 23-0 Thursday to finish the regular season 6-3.

“Silverado is a great football team. They’ve got Randall Cunningham calling the shots offensively and a good solid defense,” said Canyon Springs coach Hunkie Cooper.

“Silverado has always been good, but we just need to focus on us,” Cooper said. “I think if we can run the football like we did tonight and mix in some passes and screens and get our special teams going with our defensive play right now, we’ll be OK.”

Senior running back Malik Brown rushed for 178 yards on 23 carries to help the Pioneers celebrate senior night with a victory.

Brown and Pumphrey combined to rush for more than 330 yards. Following the game, Pumphrey talked about how Brown has been a mentor this season.

“Malik has been a role model to me,” Pumphrey said. “He teaches me a lot of stuff. We’re like thunder and lightning.”

Brown provides the thunder with his strong inside rushing presence. Pumphrey is the lightning with his quick, elusive running style and ability to make players miss in the open field.

“This kid is a phenom,” Cooper said of Pumphrey. “This kid has the potential to be the next Reggie Bush. It’s a luxury to have two guys like that. Pumphrey is amazing. He does a lot. He’s a sophomore and will be back two more years.”

Pioneers quarterback D’Vante Howard only completed three passes on the evening, but all three went for touchdowns.

Howard hit junior wide receiver Isiah Charles for a 12-yard touchdown with 1:10 left in the first half to give the Pioneers a 20-7 halftime lead.

The Pioneers added to their lead with a 63-yard touchdown by Pumphrey on Canyon Springs’ first offensive possession of the second half. Pumphrey’s second touchdown of the evening gave the Pioneers a 26-7 lead.

After Desert Pines cut the lead to 26-14 on a Trey Robello touchdown pass, Canyon Springs sealed the game when Howard connected with sophomore wide receiver Michael Gayden on an 11-yard touchdown on 3rd and long early in the fourth quarter.

Howard added on his third touchdown of the evening as he hit senior wide receiver Chayson Lawson for a 45-yard score late in the fourth quarter to give the Pioneers a 38-14 lead.

Even with the loss, Desert Pines advances to the playoffs, where they will travel to Foothill to face the Falcons at 7 p.m. next Friday.

With the win in the season finale, Canyon Springs will host Silverado at 7 p.m. next Friday in the opening round of the playoffs.

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