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Posted: Thursday, September 29, 2016 8:20 pm

Playing in Tukee Bowl links individuals for years to come

The culmination of the 20th annual Ahwatukee Bowl will happen somewhere around 9:30 p.m. Friday at Karl Kiefer Stadium.

Afterward the two teams will shake hands and separate to opposite ends of the field. But no matter what happens, the two teams will be forever linked.

Rivalry games just have a way of creating signature plays that will always be remembered. Or they produce a player or two who did something that will be forever etched into the memory of that year’s game.

So the 2016 game is here, with nationally-ranked Mountain Pointe High—the consensus No. 1 team in Arizona—hosting Desert Vista High at 7 p.m. in front of what is expected to be a capacity crowd.

The 5-0 Pride come in as the heavy favorite against the 2-3 Thunder.

But, as it has been proven time and again, it means nothing once the ball is put in play. Turnovers, time of possession and touchdowns decide games, not perception.

“No one is picking us to win, but we have a good game plan and have four great days of practice to be ready as we can be,” Desert Vista senior linebacker Chad Porter said. “We’re not thinking about how they are nationally ranked. We are looking at the film and take it like they are any other team.

“We are not scared of Mountain Pointe or star struck because they are ranked,” he added. “That doesn’t faze us. We are ready to go to work.”

Desert Vista went to work in the final quarter of last week’s stirring 31-27 comeback win over previously undefeated Dobson. Otherwise, the Thunder’s season would have been close to circling the drain.

Instead, the team enters the game against its neighborhood rival energized by the fact it was able to pull out a win even though two of the previous three defeats came in overtime and in the final minute of regulation.

“We’ve been playing good until we shot ourselves in the foot at the end of games,” Desert Vista quarterback Nick Thomas said. “Now we know we can win those types of games.”

The Thunder defense has allowed several big plays, and will be without junior starting defensive back Garrett Chavez (broken leg). But it will gain Valley Christian transfer Alijah Gammage, who could see action on both sides of the ball after he sat out the mandatory 50 percent of the regular season.

No matter how the new lineup shakes out, it is clear Desert Vista cannot let the Pride run wild as it has thus far this season in averaging 52.4 points a game.

“They have some big playmakers, and a big line, with a lot of talent on offense,” Porter said. “Every team makes mistakes and we are going to go out there and do our best to force them into some (mistakes).”

The Thunder offense revolves around the big three of senior running back Lelon Dillard, slot receiver Keishaud White and Thomas. But it has additional weapons as well that have given Desert Vista a quick-scoring ability.

The Pride defense, which will be bolstered this week with the addition of cornerback Donte Lindsey after his transfer from Cesar Chavez, has been pretty stingy this year.

Mountain Pointe faced it first deficit early on against Pinnacle last week when the Pioneers scored three times in the first half.

“We expected to run over them and played down in the first half,” junior safety Kenny Churchwell said. “We know we are going to get everyone’s best shot and we can’t let that happen again.”

The Pride offense hasn’t let up at all with 30 touchdowns in five games.

Junior running back Gary Bragg, who left last week’s game on crutches, and availability is unknown, junior wide receiver Jaydon Brooks, senior wide receiver Isaiah Pola-Mao have done most of the damage behind an offensive line with interchangeable parts and steady quarterback play from Noah Grover.

“I haven’t lost to DV and I want to keep it that way,” Pola-Mao said. “In the big picture it is just another game, but it is our neighborhood rivalry and it can be emotional if you let it.”

– Contact Jason Skoda at 480-898-7915 or Follow him on Twitter @JasonPSkoda.

– Check us out and like the Ahwatukee Foothills News on Facebook and follow @AhwatukeeFN on Twitter.


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Tukee Bowl far from oldest rivalry in Arizona

Posted: Wednesday, September 28, 2016 11:06 am

The Ahwatukee Bowl has had some history, long-lasting images and plenty of stars over the last two decades.

The intensity compares to that of other rivalries in Arizona, but it pales in comparison to some of the series from around the state when it comes to history.

Bisbee and Douglas high schools, which was played in week one of this season, dates back to 1906. They compete in the “Copper Pick” game, considered one of the oldest football rivalries in the country.

St. Johns and Round Valley high schools will meet up on Oct. 28 to close out the regular season.

This game is believed to be longest continuous rivalry in Arizona and has plenty of color, as in black, over the years.

In the 1980s, someone from Round Valley sent black roses to the St. Johns secretary; the latter responded by spray-painting “SJ” in black on the field.

There was a time where Mesa-Mountain View high schools clashed in a game as bitter as it could get.

“We hated each other,” said former Mesa coach Jim Rattay of the Mountain View game. “It could get ugly. When we came to Mesa (from Ohio) we got stomped by Jesse Parker at Mountain View and Jerry Loper at Westwood. I figured out very quickly that if we were going to do anything in this state, we were going to have start winning those regional rivalry games.”

Brophy versus St. Mary’s always caught the attention of the whole Valley, but Peoria-Cactus high school football ruled the West Valley

Globe and Miami high schools celebrated their 100th meeting in 2014. That game between two mining towns always had a family-vs.-family feel. It is known as the “Copper Kettle” Game.

The Tucson area has Sabino-Sahuaro, Canyon del Oro-Ironwood Ridge, Sunnyside-Tucson, Marana-Mountain View and others considered among the more passionate series.

In the White Mountains, the showdown between Blue Ridge and Show Low high schools is a tough one to get tickets for every year.

Locally, Chandler-Hamilton, Marcos de Niza-Corona del Sol, Williams Field-Queen Creek, Tempe-McClintock, Perry-Basha, and Gilbert-Highland are some of the games that are more than just part of the regular season.


– Contact Jason Skoda at 480-898-7915 or Follow him on Twitter @JasonPSkoda.

– Check us out and like the East Valley Tribune on Facebook and follow @VarsityXtra on Twitter.


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Ahwatukee Bowl unites and separates community at the same time

Posted: Tuesday, September 27, 2016 10:11 am | Updated: 10:44 am, Thu Sep 29, 2016.

It is that time of the year when every issue in this tight-knit and passionate community fades to the background.

Freeway debates, water issues and golf course transformations will be back in the forefront soon enough, but this week it is all about what is going down on Friday night.

It is the 20th annual Ahwatukee Bowl.

The football game came soon after the birth of a second high school when the sprawling foothills community behind South Mountain kept expanding down to Pecos Road and westward beyond 17th Avenue.

In 1995, Desert Vista High opened its doors 4.3 miles from entrenched Mountain Pointe High; by 1997, their football programs were squaring off once a year.

“We were perfectly happy being the only school,” former Pride coach Karl Kiefer recalled. “When they opened up, it became us against them right away.”

That became pretty clear the week leading up to the first Ahwatukee Bowl, if legend is to be believed: It has been said the morning announcements each day at Mountain Pointe focused on firing up the student body and players.

“What happened was they made a big deal about it, and got on the PA every day yelling about beating us,” said former Desert Vista coach Jim Rattay, who is still on the sidelines at Cesar Chavez.

“They fired up the kids; they got all crazy and wild,” he recalled. “They kicked our butts and tore down our goal post.”

The years after that, however, slanted heavily toward Desert Vista as the Thunder quickly became a state power and won the state title in 1998 with an undefeated season.

“I’ve coached in some big rivalries going back to my Ohio days, and then when I got to Mesa, there was the Mountain View game. But this one was just as big as any of them,” Rattay said, adding:

“I took a page out of (the late Ohio State University coach) Woody Hayes and how he always said ‘the team up north’ instead of ‘Michigan.’ Mountain Pointe was always ‘the team up north.’

The game has had its ebbs and flows over the years. Desert Vista (2-3) leads the all-time series 10-9 heading into the 7 p.m. kickoff at Mountain Pointe’s Karl Kiefer Stadium.

It means top-ranked Mountain Pointe (5-0) has a chance to even the all-time win-loss ratio this year. A victory would give the Pride a chance to continue chanting, “We run Tukee.”

That’s become tradition with the Pride, who have won six of the last seven Ahwatukee Bowl games and who hope to keep their good streak going.

The game doesn’t quite shut down the community, as some games do across the country. But a good 10,000 fans are expected at a game that means a heck of a lot in the hallways, locker rooms and even some of the local establishments.

“Family and friends from the entire community come out with a competitive spirit but a lot of love,” said Moses Sanchez, whose three kids attended Desert Vista.

Sanchez, the Tempe Union High School Governing Board member, added:

“That’s what the Tukee Bowl brings out in us: internal struggle, battle, spirit, energy, respect for each other. I love the Tukee Bowl and everything it stands for.”

The bragging rights that come with winning the Tukee Bowl spill into the other sports.

That’s especially the case with boys’ basketball, when the two schools meet and the chants across the gym between the two student sections inevitably turn to something about winning the Tukee Bowl.

Other than participating in a state championship game, which has happened five times (three for Desert Vista, two for Mountain Pointe) in 19 years, this is the game that players will remember most from their careers.

It is the game that is recalled at reunions and chance meetings for years afterward.

“It meant everything to me,” Mountain Pointe 2016 graduate Ralph Roman said. “Going into a season looking at the schedule and you see your rivalry school, you just get that feeling. I felt that out of all the regular season, that game had the most meaning because it was for more than just adding a win to your record, but you felt as if you owed it to Ahwatukee.”

– Contact Jason Skoda at 480-898-7915 or Follow him on Twitter @JasonPSkoda.

– Check us out and like the Ahwatukee Foothills News on Facebook and follow @AhwatukeeFN on Twitter.


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Ahwatukee Bowl

The Ahwatukee Bowl brings a little more electricity than most state rivalries.  [Photo: AFN File]

Tukee Bowl: Through the years as rivalry game reaches 20

Posted: Sunday, September 25, 2016 1:29 pm | Updated: 9:48 pm, Sun Sep 25, 2016.

The Ahwatukee Bowl will reach the grand old age of 20 when the neighborhood rivalry continues on Friday as the two football programs get reacquainted.

This year’s game has a lot to live up to this time around.

There has been a game where it took five overtimes to decide a winner, one where the only points and the deciding margin of victory, in the second half was a safety and teams so powerful they went on to win a state title.

Then there are the oddities – a goal post being ripped down, a streaking student in a gorilla mask, a forfeit due a thunderstorm and an incident where a policeman’s gun allegedly ended up on the ground while trying to get the crowd to disperse that created a frenzied but ultimately safe situation.

All of it adds up to one of the best rivalries in the state.

Here is a look at every game in the series:


A crowd of about 8,000 people attended the first Ahwatukee Bowl to see Mountain Pointe’s size and experience dominate the game. The Pride won 45-7 with Marcus Jones rushing for 166 yards on 20 carries. The Thunder, with no seniors, committed five turnovers and lost their first game after a 3-0 start. Mountain Pointe entered 0-3 but its students tore down Desert Vista’s north goalpost after the win.


Top-ranked Desert Vista won 32-14 with junior quarterback John Rattay throwing for 240 yards and three touchdowns. Bobby Wade ran for 86 yards and the Thunder defense held Mountain Pointe to 25 first-half yards. The Thunder players carried coach Jim Rattay across the field after their first rivalry win.


Top-ranked Desert Vista cruised again behind John Rattay, who completed 16 of 25 passes for 243 yards and four touchdowns in a 45-6 win before 11,000 fans. Tight end Elton Johnson was his favorite target, catching eight balls for 106 yards and two of the touchdowns. Desert Vista did not make a turnover and held 1,700-yard Pride running back Nic Lovett to 67 yards (17 in the first three quarters).


In an Ahwatukee Bowl classic, Desert Vista won 38-35 after five overtimes and more than 3 ½ hours of play. Mountain Pointe had clinched the Central Region entering the game but could not down the Thunder, led by Brent (3 TD passes) and Zach Miller, despite tying the game with 20 seconds remaining in regulation.  The game went into OT when Mountain Pointe’s Ryan Cozetto connected with Brian Hernandez on a 9-yard touchdown pass. Cozetto was sent in to win it with a field goal attempt in the second OT, but he unknowingly tore his ACL earlier in the game and collapsed when he planted his foot. The teams traded TDs in the third and fourth extra periods including one time when Cozetto fumbled, and Hernandez picked up and scored. It ended when Mountain Pointe missed a FG, and Desert Vista’s Brock Rideout kicked the 25-yard game winner in the fifth OT.


Jarrett Sayas rushed for a 65-yard touchdown on the game’s third play and his Thunder dominated from there for a 34-7 victory. Sayas finished with 107 yards on 10 rushes. He added another rushing touchdown and a 101-yard interception touchdown return in the regular season finale.


In Dan Hinds’ first Ahwatukee Bowl as Desert Vista’s head coach, the Thunder scored six times in the first half and won 63-13 in the series’ largest blowout. Clinton Polk rushed nine times for 217 yards and Jarrett Sayas rushed nine times for 88 yards.


Desert Vista overcame an early 14-0 hole and won 34-30 when the Thunder had a late-game, 80-yard drive capped by Jordan Stewart’s 16-yard touchdown pass to Mike Tamez with one minute remaining in the game. Mountain Pointe entered the teams’ region opener at 4-1 while Desert Vista had been stumbling at 2-3.


Mountain Pointe ended its six-game Ahwatukee Bowl losing streak by making Karl Kiefer the first 300-win coach in Arizona prep football history with a 23-21 victory. The Thunder lost the rivalry game for the first time with seniors when a Jordan Litke 40-yard field goal came up short on Desert Vista’s final play. Jarvis Hodge led the Pride with 174 yards on 25 carries while Desert Vista’s Chris Brogdon rushed 26 times for 153 yards.


Mountain Pointe’s Michael Moore proved unstoppable with a 279-yard rushing game on 18 carries to lead Mountain Pointe to a 39-14 victory. The Pride had started the season 1-4 but beating the Thunder continued a four-game winning streak to go to 5-4. Travis Hardee added 64- and 90-yard touchdown receptions for Mountain Pointe.


Desert Vista jumped out to a 21-0 lead on a Cole Pembroke interception return touchdown and Mark Lund touchdown passes to Bryant St. Cyr and Allante Battle. The Thunder rolled to a 27-12 victory that put them at 6-3. It also ended the Pride’s playoff hopes despite kicker Spencer Thompson booting 43- and 46-yard field goals for Mountain Pointe.


Desert Vista knocked Mountain Pointe out of the playoff picture in the season’s final week, blowing out the Pride 37-13. Desert Vista’s Chris Jones rushed for 107 yards, including a touchdown, on 13 carries while Luke Matthews scored three times while gaining 97 yards on eight carries. Devon Kennard and Danny Mularkey each had two sacks.


The Thunder continued their dominance in the series, winning 42-6 to take 9-3 lead in the rivalry, to finish the season at 8-2. Andres Battle scored on runs of 53 and 4 yards, while quarterback Cody Sokol tossed two touchdowns. The Pride, whose lone score came from quarterback Austin Lahr, had one of their worst seasons as Mountain Pointe ended the year at 2-8.


The first game of the Norris Vaughan era with Mountain Pointe didn’t look like it was going to go the Pride’s way, but ended up winning easily, 34-18 on the way to an undefeated regular season. The Thunder, who lost quarterback Cody Sokol in the game, had leads of 12-0 and 18-6 before Davon Jones took over. Jones scored just before the half and on the first drive of the first half and the Pride never looked back while rushing for 385 yards.


In one of the rare games in the series that came down to the fourth quarter, Mountain Pointe sealed the 20-17 victory when Martin Moriel intercepted Hunter Rodriguez with less than two minutes left in the game. The Pride controlled the line of scrimmage and rushed for 381 yards behind Issac Kartz (218 yards) and Dillan Johnson (110), but the Thunder still had a shot after Rodriguez found Aaron Smith for a 20-yard touchdown pass with nearly five minutes.


This might have been the oddest game of them all as two weather delays and an incident that had the police get involved during one of the delays saw the Thunder get awarded a 1-0 victory as became a forfeit. Desert Vista, which would go on to win the state title, led 24-0 when play was called with 2 minutes and 48 seconds left in the game at Karl Kiefer Stadium. The Thunder scored on its opening drive, Ryan Wagner had a pick six and then recovered a fumble that stopped the Pride’s only real scoring threat.


This game saw only two points scored in the second after being all tied at 21 at halftime. Oh, and a naked student in a gorilla mask streaked across the field jumped the fence in the northwest corner of Thunder Stadium and disappeared into the night. Mountain Pointe, which would finish as state runner-ups, took the lead 23-21 on a safety when Landry Payne tackled Thunder punter Connor Dols in the end zone after a high snap. Desert Vista, which lost leading running back Jarek Hilgers when tackled with his helmet off that required 12 stitches, had two opportunities in the Pride red zone disappear because of turnovers.


Eventual state champion Mountain Pointe won this one going away 49-6 after holding just a 7-6 lead midway through the fourth quarter. After that Pride had some fun when they scored just before half on a great catch by Timmy Hernandez and then piled on with a 28-point fourth quarter including two picks sixes as Markell Simmons and Jalen Brown took advantage of the fact that Thunder played without quarterback and emotional leader Cade Van Raaphorst (knee).


There haven’t been too many ho-hum moments in the history of the Ahwatukee Bowl. This version, however, played out as expected between two programs seemingly going in opposite directions as Mountain Poite won 49-14. The key was a 28-point second quarter after the Thunder (1-5) used a 8-play drive, led by quarterback Alex Farina, who come in for the Thunder’s second series of the game, to tie it at 7. The Pride (6-1) responded on the next drive as three straight runs got them inside the Thunder 30 before Garvin Alston (5 of 9 for 108 yards, 2 TDs) connected with Zach Blohm on a 27-yard pass just inside the right pylon. By halftime it was 35-7 as Mountain Pointe finished with more than 450 yards of offense.


Mountain Pointe won its fourth in the row, the program’s longest streak in the series, with a 28-14 win as the game was competitive throughout. The game was tied at 14 heading into the fourth before the Pride found the end zone twice with their strong running game. Deon Lee had the go-ahead touchdown catch while running back Macarius Blount (165 yards, 1 TD) and quarterback Jack Smith (82 yards rushing) ate clock and picked up first downs to end the Thunder’s chances of getting back into the game.

– Contact Jason Skoda at 480-898-7915 or Follow him on Twitter @JasonPSkoda.

– Check us out and like the Ahwatukee Foothills News on Facebook and follow @AhwatukeeFN on Twitter.


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