“This time in high school football is very limited,” said CDO high school football coach Dustin Peace.

For some of Peace’s Dorados, that time became even more limited last season, when six starters were suspended for the remainder of the season for breaking the AIA’s 24/7 rule.

“We all grew as a program,” said Peace. “It was a difficult season.”

Peace made an impassioned plea for the players to be reinstated at an Amphi School District board meeting last October, but it was to no avail. Despite being shorthanded, the Dorados still advanced to the Class 4A state semifinals.

“There was a lot of success for the guys on the field,” said Peace. “There was a lot of learning lessons for the guys on the field, and for the whole program.”

One of those players was star running back Kayden Luke.

“I had something to prove to everybody,” said Luke, referring to the beginning of the 2023 season. He was voted by his teammates as captain.

“All we ask is for him to show growth and you can see it on the field every Friday night,” said Peace.

This season, Luke is averaging close to 170 yards rushing per game. He has thirteen touchdowns, and he’s helped lead CDO to a 6-0 record.

“I’m happy for the success he’s allowed us to have,” said Peace.

This Friday, Peace will coach against his mentor, Mica Mountain head coach Pat Nugent. It’ll be a battle of unbeaten teams in a highly anticipated southern Arizona regular season game.

“The game of the decade,” said Luke. “I guess it has some bragging rights, especially with Peace and Nugent.”

This time, CDO will be at full strength with Luke, its star running back, who has been more than making up for lost time.