Liberty vs Desert Vista Football

Desert Vista quarterback Nick Thomas (2) is pressured by Liberty linebacker Sean Feeney as he throws a pass during the second half of their football game on Friday, Sept. 18, 2015. (Ralph Freso for West Valley Preps)

One of the aspects that make the Ahwatukee Bowl so intense is the relationship between the players.

There are players like Dillon Goulet, the Pride’s star defensive end, who started at one school and transferred to the other so they have been in the huddle with some of those players from the other side.

It’s a small community so they run into each other at places like Yoasis Yogurt, Native New Yorker, Nothing Bundt Cakes or Chick-fila-A.

They played on youth sports team as kids growing up and went to the same elementary in some cases.

It leads to a cross-town rivalry with a lot of players who have broken bread with each other or taken the athletic field as one.

It makes the game personal. Not necessarily in a bad way. Who doesn’t want to beat someone they respect and/or care for. It’s what good competitors crave.

The relationship the players have built over years became especially clear when news broke that Ralph Roman Jr., died just before the season started.

Many of the Desert Vista players had played for him as youths and had a connection with his son and Pride wide receiver Ralph Roman III.

Thunder players Chad Porter, Nick Thomas and Jared Ostendorp reached out and visited their former teammate on the SEV Thunder.

“It just means that they still care and my Dad impacted their lives a lot,” Roman said.

So keep that in mind when on Thursday when things get rolling. There might some shenanigans going on, but for the most part it is out of respect and friendship.

Contact writer: (480) 898-7915 or jskoda@ahwatukee.com. Follow him on Twitter @JasonPSkoda

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