Whoever said a rivalry between two high school football teams isn’t as strong compared to the majors clearly has never attended an Ahwatukee Bowl.
Last Friday night, the community of Ahwatukee jammed Desert Vista High School’s “Thunder Stadium” to witness their two high schools, Mountain Pointe and Desert Vista, square off to see which school would be crowned kings of Ahwatukee.
This has been the 17th time both schools have met under the Friday night lights to determine who will have bragging rights for the remainder of the year. Hours before the game started fans from both schools flooded DV’s stadium, with more than 10,000 in attendance.
Both schools followed a specific dress code during Friday night’s game, where fans of Desert Vista sported all white and Mountain Pointe was head-to-toe in black.
DV fans also sprinkled some pink into their nightly wardrobe, in support of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
The excitement was felt in the air hours before kick-off, where both sides were chanting back and forth to one another to see who would win the spirit side of the game.
“Our kids have been hyped up all week for it, and it was amazing how many of our kids purchased the Tukee Bowl shirt,” Pride Athletic Director Bryan Winter said.
Winter is currently completing his first year as athletic director, being new to the whole “Tukee Bowl” atmosphere, and was excited to be part of a running tradition in Ahwatukee.
“We have a good following, and I’m starting to understand how big this game is in the community,” Winter said. “Our students followed well throughout the year, and obviously this will probably be one of the biggest student sections. It’s neat to see so much of our student body get involved in the success of the football program.”
Although the game was played in DV’s house, Pride fans were on a whole other level when it came down to letting the entire community know who exactly runs the “Tukee,” where they continued to be rowdy well throughout the entire night, cheering for their undefeated football program.
“They’ve rehearsed and it’s a pretty spirited group,” Winter said. “These games are really for the kids, to see them come out and get behind their team, I think it’s fantastic.
During the half, DV honored new inductees into its hall of fame, along with presenting their Tradition of Excellence Award.
The Thunder’s Hall of Fame inductees are:
• Jason St. Clair, football and baseball player, Class of 2001.
• Amanda Lyon, cross country and track player, Class of 2001.
• Nicole McAndrew, swimming player, Class of 2007.
Award of Excellence recipients are:
• Bob Cox, teacher, coach and administrator.
• Brandon Lombardi, Class of 1999.
Tomika Betha, assistant principal at Desert Vista, said the Tukee Bowl is a time when the community of Ahwatukee gets together to root on their favorite high school.
“It’s probably one of the biggest rivalries in the states,” Betha said. “It’s a strong but friendly rivalry.”
Karl Kiefer, who started the football program at Mountain Pointe in 1994, was present during the Tukee Bowl, geared and all in support of his Pride community.
He believes the Tukee Bowl is a great series in high school football, being one of the best in the state.
“Mountain Pointe hasn’t won a state championship, but this is the year,” Kiefer said.
Dr. Kenneth Baca, Tempe Union High School District superintendent, was also in attendance during Friday night’s Tukee Bowl, taking a stance of neutrality sporting a gray polo.
“I don’t see the rivalry being anything more than a good rivalry, where both schools push each other to their very best academically, or on the field,” Baca said. “I think it’s more about the community and what binds us, opposed to what separates us. I’m just glad both sides can be good sportsmen.”
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