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Talented quarterbacks and friends face off one last time

Andrew Gastelum | Thursday, November 11, 2010

Darkness engulfed the two friends, greeted by silence and anxiety, with a single light at the end of the banner-filled tunnel. The closer they came to the light, the farther the darkness went, before treading onto the most hallowed grounds ever known to college football. 

A mere hour later, it was all over. 

One left through the tunnel elated, trophy in hand, tears in her eyes, wondering if she had ever felt anything like it. The other left dejected, grit in hand, tears in her eyes, wondering if she had left it all on the field. 

One year later, the two friends meet again, with the same stakes on the line but with another twist to the story. 

Simone Bigi remembers last season’s women’s interhall championship game vividly, summing it up in one word: “losing.”

“Something was off,” Bigi, No. 2 Pasquerilla West’s senior quarterback, said.

It’s not the walk through the same tunnel that Lou Holtz and Joe Montana once trekked through or the view of Notre Dame Stadium from the field that Bigi recalls from 2009. She remembers losing in the championship game to Howard and watching them walk off the field with her trophy, something that she said drives her to finish what she started this Sunday against Howard.

“I will do whatever I can to not feel like that again,” she said. “I am going to give everything that I have to win this game, at any cost.”

For the second straight year, Bigi will match up with No. 1 Howard quarterback Kayla Bishop, a former co-rec teammate, who has a different memory of last year’s finale.

“I remember running out of that tunnel and playing in an incredibly hard-fought game,” the senior said. 

Bishop has taken the Ducks to the playoffs in each of the past four years, winning the championship last year for the first time. Bishop captains the Howard aerial attack, which scored all 31 of its points through the air on a talented Pangborn defense last week in the semifinals to punch their return ticket to the Stadium. 

“Our offense is very flexible, to the point where we are almost winging it in the huddle,” the San Antonio native said. “We look for matchups that we can take advantage of during the game and take whatever the defense gives us.”

Growing up in Texas, football served as just another facet of life to Bishop, who insists that she knew how to call penalties before she could speak in sentences.

“I always wanted to play football since I was a little girl,” Bishop said. “My sister would want to play dolls while I preferred to throw the football around in the yard.”

Bigi, who didn’t become the Purple Weasels’ quarterback until last year, also grew up enamored with playing football.

“I would always go to sports camps and love throwing the football,” she said. “I also grew up with two brothers who made sure I didn’t throw like a girl.”

Nevertheless, the time spent practicing as a youth has turned Bigi into a premier quarterback who has taken Pasquerilla West (6-0) to two straight championship games, utilizing the deceptive triple-option as the Purple Weasels’ weapon of choice. 

“[The triple-option] keeps the defense honest because they don’t know whether we are going to pass or run,” Bigi said. “When things click on offense, we are unstoppable.” 

Meanwhile, Bishop attributes her offense’s success to pure athleticism.

“We take what natural talent we are given and use it to our advantage,” the captain said. “Being in a small dorm, we naturally have great chemistry that translates to the football field.” 

Even with the intense rivalry growing larger each year, the two friends hold each other in high esteem, knowing that just reaching the finals is an accomplishment.

“Kayla is nearly perfect under pressure and I really admire the way she plays the game,” Bigi said.

Bishop echoed those sentiments, when asked about her former teammate.

“[Simone] plays with such intensity that she isn’t afraid of anything, which is something that we respect entirely,” Bishop said. “And we expect [Pasquerilla West] to come out with a lot of passion and enthusiasm.”

On Sunday, the two quarterbacks will experience their own individual sense of déjà vu. Walking out of the tunnel just as they did last year, one will hope to start a dynasty while the other will hope to exact her revenge in “Bigi vs. Bishop II;” but no matter what, both say they will remain friends, with memories of this day that will last a lifetime.