One wears No. 7 and the other No. 6, but it’s hardly the only thing similar between Desert Vista’s Matt Young and Mountain Pointe’s Antonio Hinojosa.
They both are perceived to be short for their position, have the inclination to run from the pocket, and never started a varsity game until this year.
It cast some doubt prior to the season on what Young and Hinojosa could do behind center for two football programs with high expectations.
Notice the previous sentence said prior to the season as both Young and Hinojosa have performed at a high level in helping their respective teams to 2-0 starts heading into Friday’s Ahwatukee Bowl at Desert Vista.
The two quarterbacks have followed the game plan, made big plays when need be and showed — to this point — they can be counted on to be the steady force in the huddle.
“On film the Mountain Pointe kid is good,” Desert Vista coach Dan Hinds said. “He can run and throw and he has some good players to get the ball to. As far as Matt, it is no surprise to us at all. It was just a matter of time before he got on the field. We knew he’d be very good.”
Young’s signature play thus far probably came in the season opener when he scrambled for 12 yards to set up the Thunder’s go-ahead scoring drive, which ended with the senior’s first touchdown pass, to start the second half in the 20-10 win over Palo Verde (Nev.)
Hinojosa had a game-tying touchdown pass in the fourth quarter to knock off Hamilton 17-14 in the season opener and that pass to Travonn White probably will be remembered most, but the Pride converted four third downs on that drive.
Any quarterback who can do that against the Hamilton defense in his first ever varsity start can probably handle most situations.
So it has been a good start for both Young and Hinojosa.
The next test, of course, is how they perform against their bitter rival. While both know there is room for improvement and welcome the scrutiny, neither seemed concerned.
“I get my first shot at being quarterback in the Ahwatukee Bowl,” said Young, who is 17 of 23 for 214 yards with two TDs and an interception. “I’ve wanted this for a long time and I’m ready.”
While Young has played in the game and been around the program from the start, Hinojosa gets his first look at what this neighborhood game is all about.
“I’m sure it is going to be crazy with a big crowd, but that doesn’t matter on the field,” said Hinojosa, who is 23 of 41 for 313 yards with three TDs and a pick. “I just need to concentrate on what I need to do and not worry about those other things.”
Mountain Pointe offensive coordinator Eric Lauer said the best thing his junior quarterback has done is kept it simple.
“He’s done what we’ve asked him to do and it has allowed us to be balanced and mix things up,” Lauer said. “At the end of the day you have to be able to do both (run and pass). Some Friday nights you are going to do one more than the other, but right now we have been balanced.
“We haven’t been able to do that in previous years. He is staying in the game plan and taken what is given, and following the concept that is in place.”
It might sound a little bland — doing what’s asked of him — and Hinojosa admits he has restrained himself a little bit and will start doing more as he gets more comfortable.
“I started out a little slow, but I am getting used to the timing,” Hinojosa said. “I can get better and run when it calls for it. I still need to get a feel for it. You always want to get the deep pass, but sometimes it isn’t there and you have to make the decision to run. I really haven’t taken off yet.”
Young also said he has tempered his desire to get outside the pocket and run as much as he really wanted to at times.
“I have to trust my reads and get comfortable in the pocket,” he said. “But if it isn’t there I have to rely on my instinct to go, too.”
The two quarterbacks have had similar starts to the year and their styles of play have many of the same traits, a victory in this game puts a little more separation between Young and Hinojosoa.
“Ultimately, you judge yourself by wins,” Young said. “And who doesn’t want to beat their rival?”
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