The position requires intelligence, poise, solid decision-making and respect of the team.

Quarterbacking ain’t easy.

The most important trait of a quarterback probably has nothing to do with what he does on the field, but how he carries himself and the confidence he exudes regardless of the situation or the magnitude of the game.

“They have to be vocal and will go the extra mile,” said Brent Miller, a former Desert Vista High quarterback and current Thunder offensive coordinator. “They have to be able to call guys out. He’s gotta have that chip on his shoulder.”

The Ahwatukee Bowl has seen some good quarterbacks over the years and the 2016 duo certainly have some flare and brashness.

It was pretty evident Monday when Mountain Pointe quarterback Noah Grover showed up in a baby blue onesie on pajama day for the beginning of the Pride’s spirit week while Desert Vista’s Nick Thomas sported gold Under Armour high tops.

They don’t mind all eyes on them. And at the half-way point of the season, both have played at high level heading into Friday’s game.

Grover, a first-year starter, has led the Pride, which averages 52.4 points a game, to a 5-0 record while completing 65 percent of his passes with 12 touchdowns and three interceptions in a pro-style offense.

“I am making reads on the field with much more confidence,” Grover said. “Making reads in the practice compared to games is 10 times different between the level of play and the speed of the play.”

Grover, who averages 19.1 yards per completion, has been in the program all four years knowing one day he’d be the guy the other 10 guys in the huddle turn to when the game is on the line.

“You have to be able to take the pressure that is on you,” he said. “And you have to take the coaching stress level, especially from Coach (Norris) Vaughan, and let it help mold you.”

Thomas, who started eight games last season, is more of a dual threat in the Thunder’s spread-read option. He leads the team with 400 yards rushing with five touchdowns, completing 59 percent of his passes with five touchdowns and three interceptions.

“Nick is playing way above what our expectations were,” Miller said. “He’s had a great first half of the year. His leadership and football IQ are way above average.”

The play on the field has only enhanced their confidence level as they prepare to play in this year’s neighborhood rivalry game, but the personality it takes to play the position has to be innate to start and developed over the years.

“It is definitely something that comes natural,” Thomas said. “I think you are born with leadership abilities, but there are things I’ve had to learn to help make me the leader I am. When you are tested is when you find out what kind of leader you really are.”

And Thomas has been tested this year.

There have been times when late-game breakdowns, some directly Thomas’ doing and others not, have caused the Thunder to lose late. It’s the kind of thing that can wear a player down, especially one as competitive as Thomas.

“There are some plays that really hurt us, but as much as you hate it and it bothers you, you know there is another chance coming,” he said. “You learn from it and move on. If you let it get to you then you start trying to hard or something like that.”

That’s why the next play call has to come with the same tone and encouragement as the first play of the game.

“I always try to say something like ‘We are about to get this right here’ and then give the play,” Thomas said. “You have to show them you are confident in whatever the play is because they pick up on that if you feel like it isn’t the right call.”

Grover said he also is always doing his best to not only to deliver the play, but the right message as well.

“You want to motivate at the same time,” Grover said. “Part of the responsibility of a quarterback is to make sure the team is on the right track and ready to perform.”

– Contact Jason Skoda at 480-898-7915 or Follow him on Twitter @JasonPSkoda.

– Check us out and like the Ahwatukee Foothills News on Facebook and follow @AhwatukeeFN on Twitter.

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