The decision was easy.

The process not as much. Not for a 15-year-old who loves the game of football. The thought of having to miss a whole year of games wasn't exactly appealing to Lorenzo Melvin.

But there was no other way.

Oh, there is and it happens all of the time in Arizona, where transfers seemingly happen as often as traffic lights turn red. The Melvins could have leased an apartment in the boundaries of Ahwatukee Foothills from Maricopa and fast forward the process to let Lorenzo play for Desert Vista right away.

But there was no other way - at least not for the Melvins.

"They are a great family and they did a great job with Lorenzo," Desert Vista football coach Dan Hinds said. "With their background, you know what kind of kid you are getting."

Lorenzo's father, Patrick, was a military brat, a police commander in Phoenix and is the police chief of Maricopa. His older siblings - Jasmine and Patrick II - have chosen a military path as well.

So "by the book" is probably embedded somewhere in the family crest and they weren't about to try to cut corners on something that could bring scrutiny on the family or the football program.

"We felt that Desert Vista was the best place for Lorenzo for various reasons," said Patrick Sr., who added that his wife, Rhonda, is the balance to the entire family. "He'd probably tell you it was difficult, but now he is in the place he needs to be in order to be successful."

The success started last year when he did well academically and he was a hellion on the Desert Vista defensive scout team. It was all well-and-good, but most of it was behind the scenes.

Last Friday the only thing Melvin was behind was the line of scrimmage.

The Thunder started the season against Maryvale with a 63-0 win and Melvin had the opportunity get out on the varsity field for the first time since his freshman year at Maricopa where he started at middle linebacker.

"I was really excited to get back on the field," said Mevlin, who has to make a 25-minute commute each morning and evening. "It was frustrating to sit out, but the team really helped me out by making me feel like I was part of the group."

Melvin, the starting left defensive end, let out a bit of that frustration against Maryvale as the 6-foot-2, 205-pounder shined despite getting limited playing time because of the lopsided score.

He had four tackles, an interception and scored the game's second touchdown when the defensive surge knocked the ball out of the Maryvale quarterback's hand in the end zone and Melvin scooped it up for the score.

"He was impressive," Hinds said. "We had a lot of players come up big, but Lorenzo stuck out a little bit. He didn't show much rust."

The coaching staff knew it had a quality player when Melvin was making plays on the scout team, forcing the Thunder's offense to account for him at all times.

"He had to sit out a year as far as games played, but he practiced the whole time," Hinds said. "We knew he had a feel for the game and he developed as the year went on. We couldn't wait to get him eligible."

While he played middle linebacker at Maricopa, where his father said he earned honorable mention honors, Hinds said the decision to move him to defensive end was pretty simple.

"He is very quick off the ball and he has a motor that doesn't stop," said Hinds, whose squad hosts Mesa tonight at 7 p.m. "Lorenzo can be the prototypical defensive end. We expect him to be a big part of our defense."

Melvin, who is also a solid wrestler, said he is prepared to help the Thunder reach last year's level of success now that he is out there on the most exciting part of the week.

"We had a great year last year and I felt like I helped with what I did on the scout team, but now I get a chance to let all of the hard work pay off," he said. "Our defense is going to be really strong this year and I want to contribute as much as I can."

• Contact writer: (480) 898-7915 or Follow him on Twitter at JSkodaAFN.

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