BARSTOW - Robert Mattingly didn't have any answers on the field in a 48-0 loss to Silverado last season and didn't have anything else to add later in the weekend.

At his cousin's wedding after the loss, the Barstow senior lineman was constantly asked, "What happened?" to which Mattingly didn't have much of a response.

"I got clowned," Mattingly said. "I couldn't say nothing really. What could I say?"

With Silverado players Bruce Stevens and David Faaiuaso attending the same church, the First Samoan Gospel in Barstow, senior quarterback Daniel Ta'ase also had problems getting away from the disappointing game.

"They were talking about it in church," Ta'ase said.

After attending Silverado (3-2-2; 2-0 Desert Sky League) for part of two school years, Ta'ase was particular disappointed about the outcome. Ta'ase began his high school football career at Silverado, but didn't make grades his freshman year. He made the varsity team his sophomore year playing defense but moved three months into the school year.

While he plays almost every down on offense and defense this year, Ta'ase only made it into a few plays against Silverado last year.

"I was mad cause I really wanted to win," Ta'ase said. "I felt helpless. I only got in a few plays, and I felt like it wasn't enough."

The Aztecs (3-4; 2-0 DSL) will attempt to get even tonight at 6 p.m. against Silverado.

The Aztecs thought they had a chance to compete with the Hawks for the DSL title that Silverado went on to capture last year, but were left surprised when they lined up against Silverado. The Hawks were quicker, faster and stronger. Their scout team efficiently ran Barstow's double-wing offense for a touchdown late in the game while Barstow struggled to earn first downs.

"I saw the scores they put up against some of the other teams and how tough they were, but I didn't think it was going to be like it was once I got out there," senior lineman Justin Payne said. "I knew they were physical, but I didn't think they were actually going to come up and hit you the way they did last year."

Although many wouldn't consider a 48-0 drubbing the foundation of a rivalry, Barstow players and coaches rank tonight's game higher than 75-year-old Axe Game against Victor Valley High School.

"I see them above Victorville, everybody else," Mattingly said. "For now it's Silverado."

Ceniceros earned a respect for Silverado and coach Carl Posey while watching his cousin Alfred Delgadillo play for the Hawks. With Silverado becoming the emerging power in the DSL, Ceniceros set goals to top them when he was hired to coach the Aztecs. On a list of goals posted in the Aztecs weight room, only one team is specifically mentioned: Silverado. In practices, Ceniceros has frequently questioned, "Is Silverado working harder than you?" since August.

"Silverado's the top team, the top dog," Ceniceros said. "If you set a goal for your kids, that's what you are going to set them for. Why settle for a Kia when you can get a Cadillac? That's the way I've always been. If you are going to do something, you might as well do it right."

Even Posey acknowledges the formations of a High Desert rivalry.

"I definitely think that they are a much improved team," Posey said. "I think that they've steadily improved from the beginning of this year to now. I think that they've been wanting this for a long time. (The rivalry) is pretty intense."

Barstow is planning on a different outcome this year. The Aztecs believe they can now compete with Silverado's size and speed.

"We're there," Ceniceros said. "We have the kids they just have to believe in themselves and coming up on top in a game like this could really help them out."

At church, which Barstow players Rodney Foalima and Tulilo Tofi also attend, Ta'ase has avoided contact with the Silverado players this week.

"I try not to talk to them this week because they are going to talk mess," Ta'ase said.

- Daily Press sports editor Kris Reilly contributed to this report.