For the second straight year leading up to the annual Ahwatukee Bowl between Mountain Pointe and Desert Vista high schools, the rivals are putting their differences aside for a greater cause: supporting the needy in the community.
The Pride and Thunder will once again participate in the Super Food Bowl, which began last year as a way to collect non-perishable food items for Ahwatukee families in need. Last year, the two schools combined to collect enough food to feed 200 families, with Mountain Pointe taking home the first-ever trophy for collecting the most.
“I’m really, really excited,” Mountain Pointe school nurse and organizer of the Super Food Bowl Sarah Portle said. “We collected enough food items to support families in our Mountain Pointe and Desert Vista communities. We even had enough to help other families in the district. We did a lot of good last year.”
The food drive will support the Pride Food Pantry and work in conjunction with the One Day at a Time Club at Mountain Pointe. Portle said that group will spearhead a lot of the initiatives from the student level. It kicks off today, Sept. 14 and will end the day of the rivalry game on Thursday, Sept. 29.
Donation boxes will be set up at each school and at local businesses around the community. Portle said enough boxes will be made available this year to set up one for each school with logos in front of participating businesses.
That way, residents can decide what school they want to get the credit while still supporting a greater cause. Tempe Union High School District last year worked with the Arizona Cardinals to help donate food items. It also worked with the Ahwatukee Foothills Chamber of Commerce to get businesses on board.
Like last year, two players from each team and school representatives met at the district office to film a commercial that will be played at each school.
They all gathered around a table with some examples of food they would like to be donated. Desert Vista junior quarterback Braxton Thomas and senior linebacker Antonio Delgado represented the Thunder football program, while Nikiyah Shavers and Hailey Manani were there as student-representation for the school.
Shavers, a junior, is the president of Black Student Union at Desert Vista. She said becoming involved with the Super Food Bowl helps bring awareness to the club while supporting the community.
“It feels good seeing people wanting to get involved,” Shavers said. “It’s a good opportunity for my club to get recognition. It feels good to be able to help people.”
Delgado echoed Shavers’ sentiment.
He had the game-winning tackle in last year’s game that went to overtime. He’s expecting another battle against the Pride later this month.
But he said it shows the character of both schools to come together for a good cause. As a member of the Ahwatukee community for several years, he said it feels good to make a positive impact.
“It feels good, especially because Ahwatukee is such a close-knit community where everyone pretty much knows each other,” Delgado said. “Just knowing we are doing something for the greater good and using football to spread it, it shows how close of a community we are.”
Mountain Pointe was represented by senior linebacker Izaac Patterson and senior wideout Matty Braun. Junior Macie Logan, a volleyball player at Mountain Pointe, represented the student body. She’s also part of the school’s film and TV program. She exudes confidence while on camera and jumped at the opportunity to film the commercial for a good cause.
Logan said the Super Food Bowl has become impactful for those within the Mountain Pointe community. She pointed to the diversity at the school and a population of it that can’t always afford meals, especially Thanksgiving.
“We come from a community where there’s people that can’t afford Thanksgiving dinner sometimes,” Logan said. “To be able to fund and grow that, it’s really important. It’s really cool.”
Logan and Patterson said they have some ideas to drive student engagement for this year’s Super Food Bowl. They plan to bring attention to the event by offering prizes to the class that collects the most items.
They haven’t narrowed down the reward just yet, but it’s ranged from
pizza parties to putting one of the teachers or administrators at the school in a dunk tank – so far Athletic Director Aaron Frana has the most votes, something he is fine with if it means repeating as champions.
The food drive is meaningful to the Ahwatukee community. But it’s just as meaningful to players in the game and students involved. The two teams entertain the community, and they feel the support whenever they meet once a year.
The least they can do is repay the favor by helping provide meals to those in need.
“Not only are we entertaining these people but also helping them out outside of the game,” Patterson said. “It just feels good to be able to feed a lot of families.”
Portle hopes to have six boxes set up in the community for donations. Every Wednesday and Friday, the donated items will be collected and counted.
The final count will take place the day of the Ahwatukee Bowl with the winner announced at halftime.
“We’re really hoping we can defend our title,” Portle said. “The impact we had with our families last year was the best part of this. Knowing we can do that again this year is going to be amazing.”