Written by: Ryan Milano
Oregon and Iowa State find themselves facing off against each other in the 50th iteration of the Fiesta Bowl in Glendale, Arizona, a rare opportunity for a team like the Cyclones who find themselves in the first New Years Six Bowl in program history. In the addition of a Fiesta Bowl victory, starting Quarterbacks Tyler Shough and Brock Purdy have a little extra bragging rights on the line.
Shough and Purdy grew up as Arizona kids, envisioning an opportunity to play on a stage such as this one. The two star QBs played 8th-grade club baseball together.
“We were hitting 4-5 in the sweet spot,” according to Shough ” We had a lights out baseball team.”
Despite being the star players on a dominant team, the diamond was always more of a backup plan for the valley natives.
“I think we always knew that football was something we were going to end up playing,” Shough says.
In high school, the two faced off against each other a total of four times, a product of attending rival high schools. Purdy’s Perry Pumas got the edge over Shough’s Hamilton Huskies all four times, including a 63-60 overtime playoff showdown back in 2016 that knocked out the Huskies in the State Quarterfinals.
“It was a shootout,” Shough recalls,” It came down to who had the ball last.”
Despite the 0-4 record vs. Purdy, Shough ranked as the #1 quarterback recruit in Arizona, receiving offers from Alabama, Michigan, Arizona State, and his eventual destination Oregon.
Purdy had a longer time to wait than Shough, as the #12 Quarterback in the state didn’t even receive a Power 5 offer until two months after Shough had already committed to the Ducks.
“For me, I was just patient with the process,” Purdy says,” I was thankful everything happened the way it did. It allowed me to find Iowa State as a home.”
During the offseason, prior to this year, Purdy and Shough spent a lot of time together in Arizona. The two share the same Quarterbacks coach, Dan Manucci.
“We worked a bunch in Arizona. We were out there running sprints in 100 degree plus heat together, throwing (together). It was just the two of us, really,” Shough says. “ We just talked about the ins and outs of being a starting quarterback because he had a year under his belt. Nobody knows unless you’re behind center.”
During the season, the friendship continued, as the two were in constant communication, including giving each other pointers during the year.
“We would text each other from week to week after a game,” Shough says. “ There’s always constant communication, but we always keep our distance, knowing we have to prepare for our own games.”
The friendly rivalry between the two starting quarterbacks will be on full display Saturday on the big stage, and once the final tick comes off the clock the two will embrace on the same field they dreamt to play on growing up together.