The Ahwatukee Bowl is going national. ESPNU is slated to broadcast of the annual showdown between Desert Vista and Mountain Pointe's football teams. DV principal Anna Battle confirmed Friday that both schools have signed contracts to televise the game.
It's the second time in the series history that the game will be televised -- but the first time to a national audience. In 2006, the Ahwatukee Bowl was seen on Cox 7.
"It's great for Ahwatukee, it's great for the community," said DV coach Dan Hinds. "I just think it's going to give us a chance to get a little bit of exposure. It's great for both the schools. And, really, the fun part about it is the Ahwatukee Bowl's going to get some exposure, and that's really one of the best rivalries in the state at this point."
The start time of this year's game, held Nov. 7 at DV, will be pushed back to 8 p.m. to accommodate the network. Halftime will also be longer than usual.
Both schools will receive "very little" in terms of revenue, Battle said.
"It's a fantastic opportunity, not just for Mountain Pointe, but also for Tempe Union High School District and all of Ahwatukee to have this game put on such a stage," said MP athletic director Ian Moses. "It's something that should be a celebration not only of the athletes that will participate in the game that evening, but also the school communities as well as the community as a whole."
Hinds received a call from Paragon Marketing Group earlier this summer inquiring about a potential telecast. After initial talks, he deferred to Battle.
Then, about two weeks ago, Battle received another call confirming their interest and a contract was sent over.
"The contracts are in place," Battle said. "(Mountain Pointe principal Bruce) Kipper and myself have signed it."
Hinds said it wasn't just the game he was pitching to the marketing group, but the Ahwatukee Bowl as an experience, citing the community's involvement in the game, which almost turns into a week-long event.
"I told them that the Ahwatukee Bowl -- there's always a lot of excitement around it, and a lot of people in the community get fired up for that game," Hinds said. "It seems like there's a lot of people that just come out to check it out. Everyone just gets excited about the Ahwatukee Bowl."
There's also the Devon Kennard factor.
Kennard, a nationally-ranked defensive end for DV, is the state's top recruit and the highest profile prospect from the Ahwatukee Foothills in years.
Kennard is ranked as the No. 5-overall best available recruit nationally in the Class of 2009, and the No. 1-overall defensive end, according to the recruiting Web site Rivals.com. He's also a running back for the Thunder.
"I think what adds to the allure of this game is obviously the presence of somebody such as Devon Kennard and the attention that he has garnered and will continue to garner over this season," Moses said.
Added Hinds: "I think it has a lot to do with that. I think when you've got one of the No. 1 guys in the nation, people that have heard about him on the internet and whatnot, I think people want to see kids like that play.
"I think it has a lot to do with that, and I think it has a lot to do with the fact that we were successful last year, and people are talking about our program a little bit. I think it was all those things together that helped."
A similar event occurred back in 2006, when the annual rivalry game between Chandler High School and Chandler Hamilton was also shown on ESPNU. Extra seating was hauled in for that game, which drew an estimated 10,000 fans due in large part because both teams entered the contest 9-0.
Back then, ESPNU reached 8 million homes. Today, the network is in more than 20 million households.
Desert Vista won last year's game, 37-13, at Mountain Pointe, before moving on to a runner-up finish in Class 5A-Division I. DV also holds an 8-3 overall lead in the series.
DV already has one televised game on its schedule. Oct. 2's contest at Peoria Centennial is slated to be shown as the game of the week on Cox 7.