Ahwatukee Bowl: Everyone approaches rivalry differently - Ahwatukee Foothills News: Sports

Ahwatukee Bowl: Everyone approaches rivalry differently

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Posted: Thursday, September 16, 2010 8:00 am

It started with cutting words written on a chalkboard and ended with the student section tearing down the goal posts on the opposition's field.

Instant rivalry.

The Desert Vista and Mountain Pointe football programs get together for the 14th time on Thursday as the Thunder (2-0) travel the 4.2 miles to Knox Road to take on the Pride (2-1).

There probably won't be the drama or words (legend has it the Mountain Pointe locker room chalkboard had "They have no seniors, no tradition, and no team" written on it before the first game) of the first go around in 1997 when the Pride won 45-7 and the fans charged the field, but there is still a huge draw to the Ahwatukee Bowl.

"I don't think it has changed much," said Desert Vista's Dan Hinds, who has been involved every game as a coach, including the last nine as head coach. "The first will always be the first one, but the intensity and respect are still there.

"It's a good and healthy rivalry."

Desert Vista leads all-time 9-4, but Mountain Pointe brought down the hammer last year in a 34-18 win that included a second-half surge that wiped out a halftime deficit.

It was the first one for Mountain Pointe coach Norris Vaughan in this series, but he was part of many in his 20-plus years in Georgia, including the last eight at South Forsyth when the town had two other schools.

"Rivalries are good for the game and provides some passion to the community," Vaughan said. "As a coach I try not to get caught up in it. It's for the players and fans. I don't have a good feel for this one yet being in it for just one game, but it has the makings of a good one."

The relationship between the two schools is similar to a magnet.

There are times, depending on the season and the sport, Desert Vista and Mountain Pointe can seemingly coexist and come together, but at times there seems to be an impenetrable force keeping them apart.

"Rivalries are good and healthy," said Hinds, who compared it to his playing days at McClintock and its rival Tempe. "The problem comes leading up to the game when the students start painting things or tearing up the field with some pranks. It's never the players and the students don't realize that ultimately reflects on the team."

This year's meeting will bring new heroes such as Desert Vista's John Rattay and Bobby Wade and Mountain Pointe's Andrew Strickland and Michael Moore of years past and maybe there might even be a goat or two.

However it plays out everyone brings a different take on how they are approaching it or what they are expecting.

Pride senior linebacker Izzy Marshall has distanced himself from the emotional baggage that can mar a rivalry game by leading to mistakes.

"The Tukee Bowl is just like every game I will play, only difference is, is that it's on a Thursday," he said. "DV will be a faceless opponent. My team and I will go out and play every down to the best of our ability and try hard to make as little mistakes as possible."

Desert Vista senior defensive end and tight end Sean Coffinger is on the other side of it. He is relishing the opportunity to play in this game, unless of course there happens to be a postseason meeting, one final time.

"There is something special about the Tukee Bowl and everyone who has been a part of one knows the feeling," he said. "The atmosphere is electric and our rivalry is very intense, arguably one of the biggest rivalries in Arizona. This is my last Tukee Bowl and it is very important to me to go out the right way. To us at DV, we expect to win every Tukee Bowl and last year was a huge letdown."

Now that is more like it.

Desert Vista is probably seen as the underdog after last year's tumble to 2-8 while Mountain Pointe soared to new heights.

The Thunder has already matched last year's win total and have a young nucleus that wants to prove that last year's debacle was more of a blip than a rut.

And a win against the Pride would go a long way in proving that to be true.

"I know that if we are 2-0 or 0-2 we are still going to go into it with the same amount of intensity against Mountain Pointe because it is Mountain Pointe, but 2-0 gives us that confidence," junior quarterback Hunter Rodriguez said. "That's a game I circled on my calendar, that's the big one, that is the Ahwatukee Bowl.

"It is going to be fun."

In the other huddle stands Mountain Pointe quarterback Kyle Faunce, who is new to the rivalry after spending time at four other schools before settling in with the Pride. When he was in Indiana and playing at Cathedral High, the rival was Carmel.

It was the whole private (Cathedral) vs. public battle with families lining up across from each other as he played against cousins and best friends.

Now he will get his first taste of the Tukee Bowl.

"I've heard it is high intensity with a lot of excitement and like all rival games it's for bragging rights for the next 365 days," said the junior quarterback. "It should be a fun exciting game, for the players and the spectators."

Faunce would have that ability to brag should the Pride win since he will be back next year, but for someone like Coffinger when you're a senior there isn't a next year.

And he knows there is nothing better than winning that meeting with one's rival.

Because that win can last a lifetime.

"This year we are confident and going to be prepared for the biggest game of the year," Coffinger said. "We owe these guys one and this game could give us the momentum we need to finish the season like we started it."

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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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