Published Thursday, Oct. 28, 2010 | 11 p.m.
Updated Friday, Oct. 29, 2010 | 2:07 a.m.
Let the playoff party begin at Silverado.
After two years of disappointing near misses, Silverado (6-3, 3-3) clinched a berth in this year’s playoffs with a 23-0 shutout victory against Del Sol (5-5, 3-3) Thursday night.
“No more talking about the Silverado Slump and whatnot,” said Steven Scamorza, a senior running back and linebacker for the Skyhawks.
Silverado takes the Southeast division’s No. 3 seed and will travel to Canyon Springs next week for a first round playoff game. With the loss, Del Sol slips to the No. 4 seed and must take on Las Vegas High.
As the scoreboard at Del Sol struck zero, it became clear this meant more than any other victory for Silverado. Players started exchanging hugs and attempted to douse coach Andy Ostolaza with Gatorade.
Although Ostolaza evaded most of the liquid, he was as ecstatic as his players.
“With the close losses the last two years, it was starting to wear on me something fierce,” Ostolaza said. “I’m so glad we’re in.”
The Skyhawks strength all season has been defense and they made sure everyone knew it against the Dragons. Silverado held Del Sol’s Chris Marshall, the state’s leading rusher, to 17 yards on 14 carries.
The Del Sol offense gained only 102 total yards.
“We’ve put a lot on our defense,” Ostolaza said. “They played great tonight. To shut out a kid like Marshall, that was the gameplan. We wanted to contain him.”
The defense also got the Skyhawks their first points when the offense looked sluggish. Early in the second quarter, Silverado linebacker Kusitafu Otuafi sacked Del Sol quarterback Troy Miller for a safety to make the score 2-0.
Ladale Jackson took the ensuing safety kick 60 yards to set up the Skyhawks first touchdown. Silverado went for it on fourth-and-goal from the 4-yard line and Josh Curtis made a leaping touchdown grab on a pass from Roger Price.
“We put up 23 points on Del Sol,” Scamorza said. “They are a phenomenal team, so it means something.”
The most surprising part was that Silverado did it without two main members of its offense. Leading rusher Izaiah Thurmon missed the game with an injury and starting quarterback Savon Moniz hurt his knee during the first drive and did not return.
“It would bite us the last few years when we’d lose some personnel,” Ostolaza said. “But now it seems like we’re able to lose some people and keep moving at the same speed.”
Senior running back Dominic Molina jumped at the chance to become the focal point of the offense and gained 97 yards on 14 carries. Scamorza had 19 carries for 68 yards and a touchdown
Del Sol averages more than 200 rushing yards per game, butJason Meuir was its leading rusher against Silverado with 18 yards. Del Sol’s matchup with Las Vegas will be its fifth in the last five years.
Las Vegas knocked Del Sol out of the playoffs three straight years before the Dragons gained some revenge by beating the Wildcats during last year’s regular season.
Silverado has nowhere near the recent history with Canyon Springs. It doesn’t matter. The Skyhawks are thrilled to be back competing for a state championship.
“For the parents and kids at Silverado, it’s not enough just to make it,” Ostolaza said. “We have go in and try to use our strengths to keep this moving.”