Picture day has a feel all to its own.

Coaches Dan Hinds and Norris Vaughan know it is a necessary evil with emphasis on the latter.

“The two days of the year that I have to remember to be patient is the first day of practice when paper work has to be in order and picture day,” Hinds said. “I have control over most days, but I know on those two days things are going to happen.

“After we get through those two days it’s all about football.”

Desert Vista and Mountain Pointe got through picture day seemingly without incident on Saturday, but not before offensive linemen threw passes like they were born to do it, groups of players posed flexing their muscles, and seniors tried to stand in a formation that looked like a lightning bolt for the season’s program.

In the midst of the hijinks, the overly vocal photographers and flash bulbs going off, a few of the players gave their views on the upcoming 2013 season.

Both teams, partially due to the fact that there are now only 29 teams in Division I and scheduling quality opponents has become increasingly harder, open the season out of the state.

The Pride gets it started by traveling to Las Vegas on Aug. 21 where they will practice at Faith Lutheran High in preparation for the Sollenberger Classic when they will take on four-time defending state champion Bishop Gorman, which has won 39 of its last 40 games, on the Gaels home field on Aug. 23.

The Thunder is headed west the following week to participate in the Brothers in Arms showcase, which also includes Arizona teams Hamilton, Desert Ridge and Westview, in San Diego on Labor Day weekend.

Desert Vista will face Mission Hills, which has averaged nine wins over the last seven years, at Cathedral Catholic High on Aug. 31.

The players will be treated well and the memories should be everlasting.

“I can’t wait for the game and we’ve been watching film so I think we have a pretty good concept of what they do,” Thunder wide receiver Richard Haywood said. “It’s going to be something special and we want to come back with a win.”

The Pride players will get a chance to see a college bowl game with events like a banquet, where the players from the four teams in the Sollenberger sit intermingled before a high-profile game between two nationally ranked teams.

“We are going to match well as long as we play physical ball like Mountain Pointe likes to play,” senior running back/safety Trey Lauer said. “It will be tough for them to beat us as long as we play like we can.”

Both teams had their 2012 season ended by Hamilton. The Thunder lost in the quarterfinals and the Pride in the state title game. Soon thereafter this year’s senior class took over the course of leadership the programs would go on this year.

“I’ve gotten over the sadness pretty quick, but I haven’t forgotten what it feels like,” Pride quarterback Antonio Hinojosa said. “I’ve made a promise to myself to never feel like that again.”

While Desert Vista doesn’t have the scar of falling in the title game, not being able repeat as state champions was hard for the 2012 seniors to accept and they lingered to the point the lights were almost turned off on their good-byes. Before leaving Hamilton’s field, they passed the torch on to the next group.

“We started right after the game,” tight end Anthony Reaves said. “The (outgoing) seniors came up to some of us and said this is our team now. It’s up to us to keep it going. We’ve been doing it ever since.”

These teams are stocked with known talent, but who are some of the candidates for being the breakout player that is less recognizable currently but will be well known by the time the playoff push begins in late October?

The players weighed in with their thoughts as to who would make the biggest impact. Mountain Pointe linebacker Keondre Churchwell and the Thunder’s Haywood, taking over as the fly guy, were the most mentioned.

It is tough to tell at this point if it will come to fruition, but on picture day just about anything goes.

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

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