Two desert high schools went at it in a competition with a lot on the line Saturday.
It was Coachella Valley vs. Desert Mirage. The combatants were hungry. They lined up face-to-face. And when the referee started the match, the action was fast, the action was dramatic and the action was …. well, it was completely disgusting.
The competition in question is the Spicy Thai Noodle Challenge. It was open to all desert high school football teams, but only the Arabs and Rams sent competitors to the battlefield – My Thai Restaurant in La Quinta.
Jose Cuevas and Sergio Ortega of Coachella Valley squared off against Dylan Arreola and Jaime Serrano of Desert Mirage.
A heaping plate of spicy Thai noodles, cranked up to five times spicier than normal by owner and chef Sathin Henderson, was placed in front of the four high school football players: First one to finish his plate wins.
With hands hovering over forks, the competitors waited for Henderson to shout “Go!” And when she did, they dug in. With the sound of clanking silverware, and the shouts of teammates and loved ones ringing in their ears, away they ate.
Cuevas, always the strategist, bypassed the fork and immediately started eating with his hands (in case this wasn’t gross enough already). That decision gave him a huge edge as the other three struggled with not only the heat of the spices, but their noodle-to-fork dexterity. It was clear from the start that this competition was Cuevas’ as long as he didn’t choke (literally). Sure enough in about 45 seconds his plate was clean, even if his hands and face weren’t. The other three had barely even made a dent.
Cuevas never lost his focus, never lost his determination and never lost his lunch.
With the red spicy sauce and some noodle chunks still on his chin, the victorious Cuevas spoke those words that you often hear after a championship performance: “My face is numb.”
The victory did bring a nice prize with it in the form of $1,000 for the Coachella Valley High School football team.
Yes, Cuevas won the event dreamed up by Sathin and husband David Henderson. All the competitors earned a T-shirt which said “Spicy Thai Noodle Challenge” on the front, and something sort of off-color about the ramifications of the contest on your digestive system on the back.
Cuevas’ head coach Brett Davis was on hand to root on his players and called the victory the greatest achievement of his coaching career.
“Better than all the CIF titles in the world,” he said with a laugh, adding of Cuevas, his starting center. “I wouldn’t want to be that noseguard that’s going against Jose next Friday.”
That Arabs open the season Friday at Cathedral City, and at least one Coachella Valley player we know will definitely come out of the gate breathing fire.