The Ahwatukee Bowl is sixth game for both Desert Vista and Mountain Pointe this season.
In the previous 19 games that would not even be a footnote other than some prefer the final game of the year is a rival game ala Arizona St. and Arizona, Ohio St. and Michigan and Oregon and Oregon St.
A mid-season clash hardly takes anything away from this year’s game. It does, however, mean there will be some new faces on the field for the first team for the respective squads.
The new transfer rule the Arizona Interscholastic Association put forth for this school year meant anyone who was not granted a hardship clearance had to sit out 50 percent of the season.
Mountain Pointe gains a very good cornerback in junior Donte Lindsey (Cesar Chavez) and backup quarterback in sophomore Nick Wallerstedt (Corona del Sol), while Desert Vista will have the services of Alijah Gammage (Valley Christian).
Lindsey (54 tackles, 3 INTs, 22 passes broken up, 2 defensive TDs in 2015) will make an already star-studded defense even deeper, while Wallerstedt, who has shown a similar skill set to last year’s starter Jack Smith in practice, gives the Pride a good insurance policy behind senior Noah Grover.
The arrival of Gammage, who played quarterback and defensive back with the Trojans, comes at a good time after the Thunder lost junior Garrett Chavez for season with a broken right leg sustained in the win over Dobson last week.
“He has instincts for the game and we think he can be a great asset to our program,” Thunder coach Dan Hinds said of Gammage before the season. “We will see where he fits when he becomes eligible.”
With the loss of Chavez it is a good bet that Gammage, who is listed as 6-foot and 170 pounds, will be thrown into the starting lineup. He had 1,300 all-purpose yards and 16 total touchdowns (seven rush, nine pass) last year along with three interceptions.
The Desert Vista defense lost a leader and top contributor in Chavez, who was overwhelmed this week by the support he received in the hospital from teammates, coaches and friends.
“It's been awesome,” he said. “A ton of friends, fellow students, and my teammates and coaches have visited while I was in the hospital. Everyone's been very supportive.”
What wasn’t awesome was the gruesome sound and sight of his leg when the injury happened.
“Well as soon as it happened I heard a snap and my entire leg just started to dangle there,” Chavez recalled. “It hurt but I think knowing that I wouldn't be able to help my team and finish out the season strong is what has made the whole situation a lot worse. “It's been hard seeing how supportive my team has been but knowing there's nothing I can do to help them.”
At least there are reinforcements coming now that is Week 6.
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