A scheduling snafu has put the Desert Vista football program in a unique situation.
The Thunder opens its season at home against Phoenix Maryvale two weeks from today in what is the first game of the season.
The only game.
The kind that draws people from all over the Valley who have no connection to either program, but they have to satiate their high school football craving that has been building since about 3 seconds after the end of the 2010 Class 5A Division I title game.
It's the type of game where opposing coaches get a free night to scout a team without missing anything having to do with their own program.
In other words, there will probably be a lot of eyes on the Thunder and Panthers.
The game is played a day before the Barry Sollenberger Classic involving two games at University of Phoenix Stadium.
The first one is Show Low vs. Moapa Valley High School with the second game being Scottsdale Chaparral and Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas).
Other than that it is about a week before anyone else plays.
The spotlight will solely be on that one game and with the expectations Desert Vista has for 2011, the Thunder are welcoming the critical eye.
"It is a chance for us to show what we are going to be about," junior offensive lineman Zach Tamburo said. "We came out slow last season (in a 20-15 win) against Tucson and had to hold on. We want to be better than that and build some momentum from the start."
The timing of the game came about after school officials had trouble scheduling the two "freedom games" (the new computer system accounted for eight of the 10 games) and by the time Desert Vista tried to get a 10th game all possible matches already had a full schedule.
Maryvale, which went 7-3 last season, had to get approval from the Arizona Interscholastic Association to take on an 11th game.
It was given the go-ahead in May so Desert Vista has known for three months that preparation for the first game was going to be shortened by a week.
"We took that into account with everything we did all summer and in our camp," Desert Vista coach Dan Hinds said. "The kids really got everything we gave them. We had a really good spring and summer. The schemes are in place and we have three weeks to get everything ready to go."
The Thunder, which went 10-3 and advanced to the Class 5A Division I semifinals in 2010, has to take what it usually does over four weeks and fit it into three, along with fitting in a scrimmage against Chaparral on Aug. 10 at home.
The team believes the time it spent last week in Winslow really got the season started and will serve as that fourth week of prep.
"That was the best camp I've ever been to," senior quarterback Hunter Rodriguez said. "We had a great time and did everything we wanted to."
The team brought 144 kids from all four grades up north, slept on the gym floor and set the tone for the season.
"As a senior I knew it was my last time doing something like that so I really tried to take
it in," running back Dominic Kereluk said. "The coaches made it intense and fun. We got a lot done and we came back better."
Hinds said it was one of the better camps he has had as a coach and provided insight into what the team's makeup is going to be during the season.
"You know what, they really looked after each other," he said. "We really pushed them at times and instead of turning on each other they helped each other through it. That's a sign of a cohesive, winning team."
The Thunder hopes to show that to Maryvale and anyone who might be watching the only game going.
"We are going to have a game under our belt before anyone else (in the section)," Hinds said. "Having those 60 minutes (heading into the second game against Mesa) will give us an advantage. We will be ready to go for the first week and build on it from there."'
Contact writer: (480) 898-7915 or firstname.lastname@example.org