GameDay: Ahwatukee Bowl hits 15 years with style - Ahwatukee Foothills News: Sports

GameDay: Ahwatukee Bowl hits 15 years with style

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Posted: Friday, September 9, 2011 1:00 am | Updated: 6:50 am, Mon Sep 8, 2014.

With all that has transpired over the last year, including some drama among the Desert Vista and Mountain Pointe football programs, the 15th chapter of the Ahwatukee Bowl is one that should be dog-eared as a must read.

And the game is hardly just a footnote.

For the first time in the history of the rivalry both teams are coming off semifinal berths, the expectations for both teams may have never been this high for each school in the same season and there is a bit of tension mixed in after the movement of some players.

"There is no better way to get it started," said Mountain Pointe senior offensive linemen R.J. Hollis. "It's our first home game, it's the senior's last game against our rival and there might be some animosity."

In other words, this might be an Ahwatukee Bowl like no other.

Desert Vista is off to a 2-0 start while outscoring opponents 101-6 and travels to Mountain Pointe after a week off, giving some extra prep time.

Mountain Pointe is 1-1 after a close game with three-time defending state champion Hamilton in week one and a plastering of Mesa.

It has added more weight to the scale that measures the significance of a rivalry. How much? Tough to tell but 502 pounds is a good guesstimate.

As in the combined weights of Pride defensive linemen Detorrion "Dee" Harvey and outside linebacker A.J. Williamson.

The rivalry had some heat before. But when Harvey, who transferred mid-school year, and Williamson, who came over after spring ball, transferred from Desert Vista to Mountain Pointe during the offseason, it created a bit of a wild fire of accusations and flared some tempers.

While the initial emotion has worn off, there are still some residual effects that might creep into the game.

"There is probably some animosity there because A.J. and Dee came over here," said Hollis, who transferred from Desert Vista to Mountain Pointe early in the 2010 school year. "It will be very intense. I am looking forward to it."

Most of the Thunder players admit it brings an added dimension to the game, but said that they are over the resentment over the defection.

"At first we didn't understand why they wanted to go play over there," junior offensive lineman Zach Tamburo said before the season started. "Now it doesn't really bother us. We have to make sure we play well and beat them. I don't think there is any bad blood."

It brings more color to the contest like previous transfers within the rivalry (think Zeb Togiai or Bill Kraus, both of whom went from Mountain Pointe to Desert Vista in recent years) did, but both coaches try to stay out of it.

Desert Vista coach Dan Hinds said it is his job to take himself outside of the emotion of the rivalry. There is a place for it, just not in the coach's office, but he understands how it plays in the Thunder locker room.

"We don't talk about it, but it is there," Hinds said. "It's human nature. I'm sure it didn't sit well. I keep my head down and focus on getting the kids ready.

"Rivalries are a good thing, but as a coach you have to pull yourself out of it."

Vaughan does the same, especially with a game so early in the year.

He said he might understand the hype more it if it was the final game of the regular season like it once was when they were in the same region.

Instead, it is just week three. Both quality teams are still finding out how good they really are. They are both in Division I, Section III and are competing for one of three automatic bids into the postseason. History and proximity play a role, but truly it is one game that comes with power points and confidence to the winner heading into the rest of the schedule.

"Every game should mean the same to me," Vaughan said. "They are a good team. We are going to have to be ready to play, but it is one of 10 games. Now the kids, and other people, can see it the way they want to, but I don't want to get mixed up in it."

The Pride have won two in a row in the series, but Desert Vista leads 9-5 overall. Mountain Pointe wants to go for the three-peat under Vaughan, the Thunder believe they can continue their overall dominance.

The latest chapter is about to play out.

Regardless of what side someone's allegiance lies or how much pre-game hype is placed upon it, there is something about this game that is always special.

"There is a different feel about this week, and it is the most important week other than playoffs," said Desert Vista quarterback Hunter Rodriguez. "The (transfers) get our guys more fired up and motivates us even more."

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

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Jason P. Skoda
  • Jason P. Skoda
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  • Resident sports writer at the Ahwatukee Foothills News

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