Ahwatukee has a football team that won a state title this year, after all.
The EV Thunder, a feeder team for Desert Vista High School’s football program, recently captured the state championship in its division after an undefeated season in which it scored 228 points and allowed its opponents a total of only 12 points.
Part of the Arizona Youth Sports League, the 3-year-old team pulls players, mostly 10 and 11 years old, from a variety of schools, said coach Charles Hawk.
They include Horizon Honors, Kyrene Del Milenio, Kyrene Akimel A-al Middle School, Lagos Elementary, Kyrene de la Sierra, Kyrene del Norte, Centennial Middle School, SanTan Junior High, Maricopa Wells Middle School, Maricopa Elementary, Desert Wind Middle School, Wilson Elementary, Legacy Traditional and Pueblo Middle School.
Their title came with the 22-6 defeat of the Marana Falcons, whose only loss in the regular season was to the EV Thunder.
The EV Thunder scored in first quarter off a 12-yard touchdown run quarterback Damien Logan. The second touchdown came in the final 90 seconds of the first half, when quarterback Diego Pettypool threw a 23-yard pass to wide receiver Jaxon Hacker.
Both extra points on those touchdowns were made by Jaxon Hacker, with holder Damien Logan and center/long snapper Charles Hawk III assisting.
The EV Thunder scored in the beginning of the fourth quarter with an 18-yard run by Tristan Halsana.
The youngsters are led by a coach who went to McClintock High School in 1980-81 with Dan Hinds, the head coach of Desert Vista High’s varsity football program.
“We play club football now, since most elementary schools and junior highs have discontinued the tackle-football programs,” Hawk said. “So, these players will play club ball until they are freshmen in high school.”
Hawk has been coaching his son, for six years. He started in Pop Warner at age 4, and has played tackle football for seven seasons.
The team also plays spring football.
“This spring season, we are going to play 11U together with the National Youth Sports, and make a run at the national tournament in San Diego in June,” said Hawk. “Next fall, we will move up to the 12U Division, and continue to move forward to the 13U and 14U teams. After that age, they go into high school teams.”
The EV Thunder’s coaching staff includes two Desert Vista High football coaches, including varsity assistant coach Larry Davis and freshman team coach Dave Bills.
Other EV Thunder coaches are head coach Chad Logan, Dave Bills, Ben Carter, John Pettypool , Aaron Kwan and Jordan Jarrett.
Recruiting players is no easy task.
“Some will tell you that I have approached them in a library at their school, at parent-teacher conferences or at grocery store,” Hawk laughed. “Heck, I’ve even driven by some kids playing in a yard and stopped to talk to them about football. A lot has been word of mouth, but we will be posting for open tryouts for this coming spring season. Making a run at Nationals is a huge undertaking and commitment.”
The coaches put their players through their paces. Hawk refers to unpadded practices as PTA – “pain, torture and agony” – which occur in August.
“We then climbed A Mountain together as a family/team, and handed out the player shirts letting them know they made the team,” he said, adding practice for spring ball will start in mid-January.
Above all, Hawk added, “The community pride that we have for Ahwatukee is foremost in our relationships.”
Hawk said he and the rest of the coaches would like to start football teams for other ages, as young as 6. Interested kids can find them on Facebook under “EV Thunder Football Club.”
They also write email@example.com.
Players on the championship team were Tristian Halsana, Skyler Ritchie, Damien Logan, Jaxon Hacker, Cordell Killingsworth, Charles Hawk III, Portland Davis, Trey Liermann, Diego Pettypool, Santana Warren, Takoda Rivers, Johnathan Wadzeck, Nate Barlow, Dominic Costanza, Demetrice “DJ” Johnson, Robert “R.J.” Shepard, Elijah Kwan, Kameron Pender-Bey, Anthony Ruiz, Jordan Parker, Myles Carter and Ethan Green.