The relationship between Desert Vista and Mountain Pointe is similar to a magnet.
There are times, depending on the season and the sport, the Thunder and Pride can seemingly coexist and come together, but then at least once a year there is this impenetrable force keeping them apart.
The latter will be on display tonight at Desert Vista (3-2) when top-ranked Mountain Pointe (6-0) makes the 4.2-mile trek for the 17th edition of the Ahwatukee Bowl.
It’s the one of the few nights of the year when a good portion of this uniquely tight-knit community has a barrier separating sides.
“I remember my brother (Jake) getting ready for this game,” Thunder quarterback Cade van Raaphorst said. “I’d go in the training room with him every game, but the Ahwatukee Bowl always had a different feel. There will be games from this year that I probably won’t remember much about, but this is one you never forget.”
There probably won’t be the drama or words (legend has it the Mountain Pointe locker room dry erase board had “They have no seniors, no tradition, and no team” written on it before Game 1) of the first go around in 1997 when the Pride won 45-7, the fans charged the field and tore down a goal post, but there is still plenty at stake during to the Ahwatukee Bowl.
And not just power points.
“The DV game sets the tone for everything else,” Mountain Pointe senior Charlie Trevino, who also plays baseball. “It’s bragging rights. The student sections (at basketball games) will the best (burn). Whoever wins this has that feeling for a year.”
The coaches down play it as much as they can, but Thunder coach Dan Hinds, who has a 6-5 record in the game, and Pride coach Norris Vaughan, who is 3-1, know they can’t control everything.
It doesn’t stop them from trying.
“We have this week’s game circled just like Hamilton was last week,” Vaughan said. “Next week it will be Brophy. It’s just the next step on the ladder we are trying to climb. The game is great for the community and the players will get emotional, but we still have to be at our best.”
The Pride, who ranked as high as No. 8 in the nation, has been playing at a high level all season; something the Thunder hasn’t been able to say.
Desert Vista, which has won two in a row after the surprising 17-3 loss to Boulder Creek, has a chance to pull off one of the biggest upsets in the history of the series, which the Thunder leads 10-6.
The Thunder has been disappointing to a degree, but the evolution of a team never ends. A good week of practice can lead to a great game and it just might be what it takes to knock off the powerful Pride.
“We’ve been playing better, but this is the best team we’ve played,” senior wide receiver Richard Haywood said. “We know the mistakes we’ve made can’t happen. We are ready to play our best game.”
Mountain Pointe is in a good position simply because their biggest rival comes calling a week after a big win over Hamilton. It lessens the chance of an emotional letdown a week after handling the state’s perennial champion and most dominant program.
“Oh, we will be ready for DV,” said senior running back Deontay Townsend, who will see an increased role if Wesley Payne (elbow) and Brandyn Leonard (shoulder) are ruled out or limited. “This is the game, right here, that we all look forward to because we know so many of those guys.
“We will be ready to play.”
Hinds has been a part of everyone of these games in various positions before taking over as head coach in 2002. He has seen the emotion before and during the game firsthand. He has felt both the elation after a win and the long walk back to the locker room after coming up short.
He knows all about the magnetic pull of the Ahwatukee Bowl.
“It’s one of the best rivalries out there,” said Hinds, who grew up in the McClintock and Tempe battle. “We play it up, but not with hatred. It’s out of respect. The thing is you never know how the kids are going to react. We’ll prepare them the best we can and it’s up to them to create the memories.”
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