Creating their own legacy: New cast of players lead Thunder into 2013 season - East Valley Tribune: Ahwatukee Foothills

Creating their own legacy: New cast of players lead Thunder into 2013 season

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Posted: Friday, August 30, 2013 3:45 am | Updated: 12:56 pm, Fri Sep 6, 2013.

It has gotten to the point where Desert Vista is daring someone else to doubt them.

The players have heard all about the success, the state title in 2011, and the standard set by the last two senior classes.

And now it is up to them to keep it going.

They are confident that will be the case. Most of the starters might be unknown and getting a chance to make an impact at the varsity level for the first time, but they come from Thunder stock.

There is size, talent and desire to be great just like the last three seasons when Desert Vista has gone 32-7.

They just haven’t had a chance to show it yet.

That’s about to change on Saturday when the Thunder head to San Diego to participate in the Brothers in Arms football showcase. Desert Vista will face Mission Hills at 11 a.m. at Cathedral Catholic High.

“We have good team; no one knows it yet,” senior captain Will Barfield said. “Mission Hills does a lot of the same things as Chandler who we scrimmaged. We think we have a good idea of what they do.

“It’s our turn to go out and play Desert Vista football. We can’t wait to show everyone what we can do.”

The scrimmage against Chandler, in which most observers felt Desert Vista more than held its own, only deepened their belief that the Thunder will be just fine this year.

Yes, they realize it was just a scrimmage, but Chandler is considered a preseason top five team by most and the Thunder had the talent to match them.

The only thing that might be more of an unknown for the Thunder is the 2013 schedule as most of the opponents have never been on the two-year block.

After Mission Hills, the ledge includes a home opener against North, a game at Boulder Creek, and then home games against Marana Mountain View and Vail Cienega.

More familiar names — Mountain Pointe (Oct. 4), at Peoria Centennial, at Dobson, at Corona del Sol and home against Brophy — pop after that but the initial portion of the schedule will be interesting.

“It’s invigorating because we are facing a lot of teams we haven’t seen before and, of course, they haven’t seen us,” Thunder coach Dan Hinds said in the offseason. “When it came to the freedom games we wanted to go after some new opponents.

“We won’t be able to pop in (game tape) and know what to expect before it starts playing like we do against teams we’ve played for years. It will be a challenge to come up with game plans for these games.”

The Thunder has mostly new names — Cade van Raaphorst at quarterback, Richard Haywood in the familiar fly role while Jason King and Barfield become leaders on defense — on the depth chart but they have Oregon recruit Jalen Jelks back on both sides of the ball and it’s always good to have a 6-foot-7, 250-pound athlete on your side.

“He didn’t even really play as a freshman,” senior tight end/defensive lineman Anthony Reaves said. “He never played before that and he didn’t know the game. Now, he is a beast.”

Jelks might be the big name, but together the Thunder developed a brotherhood that puts no one ahead of the team.

It is that type of approach that has Desert Vista primed to surprise some people in 2013.

“We know what this team is capable of,” Barfield said. “We see the talent, the big plays and intensity we have. We work hard every day to make sure we will be ready when the time comes.”

• Contact writer: (480) 898-7915 or jskoda@ahwatukee.com. Follow him on Twitter @JSkodaAFN.

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