The Ahwatukee Bowl is weathered after just 16 years.
And it has nothing to do with last year’s edition being stopped prematurely partially because of a thunder storm.
The matchup between Desert Vista and Mountain Pointe, which continues Friday at 7 p.m. at Desert Vista, is hardly the longest standing game in Arizona, which is believed to be the game between Douglas and Bisbee, which is known as The Copper Pick and started in 1906, nor is it the most heated and bitter rivalry, which probably lands somewhere in the White Mountains between Blue Ridge and Show Low.
Round Valley and St. Johns is another White Mountain clash that has shut-down-the-town-early-on-gameday capabilities where the attendance at the game is larger than the listed population of the home team.
Closer to home Brophy-St. Mary’s and Chaparral-Saguaro have some merits as well.
All of these games have a lot more history — time enough for stories to become legendary — to lift the game to historic and heated rivalry.
The thing is the Ahwatukee Bowl has similar qualities despite being just in its infancy compared to others. It has been through so much in a short period that it just appears to be older than it actually is. The intensity of the rivalry has seemingly sped up the aging process like a chair left out by the pool all summer.
“When that other school started to be built I knew it would take away from some of our talent,” Mountain Pointe’s original head coach Karl Kiefer said. “But I also knew to build a good program there had to be a rival that pushed you to be better.
“When I was at McClintock we had Tempe. That was our game. You had to win that game and this one had that same feel from the start.”
It might have had something to do with the goal posts at Desert Vista being torn down by the Mountain Pointe student body in the first game.
Just a guess.
It sort of festered from there. Transfers switching sides along with coaches keeping in the starters in lopsided games took it to another level. Destruction and vandalizing of property has been kept to a minimum over the years, but it also has a chapter.
What matters most is what happens on the field. The Thunder holds a 10-5 advantage heading into one of the more anticipated games in the series considering both teams rank in the state’s top three in Division I after two weeks.
“This year is a little different I think because you have two top ranked teams,” said Desert Vista coach Dan Hinds, who has been involved with the program since its inception in 1997. “I don’t ever remember both teams being this highly regarded.
“The rivalry piece is still there. Ahwatukee is a pretty tight community. Everyone is so close to each other. It can’t help but be intense. I’m sure coach (Norris) Vaughan agrees none of that matters in the end because we have to get ready and be prepared.”
Vaughan, coaching in his fourth Ahwatukee Bowl with a 2-1 record, always tries to downplay the game simply because he has been around some many good ones over his 305 career games (208 wins).
“We do the same thing we always do as far as practice goes,” he said. “You have to stay poised and not buy into it. When you have two quality teams like this, the one that minimizes the mistakes is probably going to win. You don’t want to get them going too much because there is already so much surrounding the game by people who have nothing to do with it really.”
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