FARMINGTON — This week's clash between Farmington and Piedra Vista is more than just a rivalry, it is a game eight years in the making for one Farmington household.
As fourth graders at Esperanza Elementary School, Bobby Shuttleworth and Jacob Armijo formed a friendship that has turned into a brotherhood. Now the two boys are seniors and extraordinary circumstances have the two ready to play each other in the biggest crosstown rivalry game in Farmington in years.
"We always imagined we would be playing this game on the same team. I never imagined we would be playing each other," Bobby Shuttleworth said.
It all started when Armijo moved in with the Shuttleworth family.
"It started as a joke. My mom was moving. I was best friends with Bobby and he said, 'Come live with me,'" Armijo said. "It ended up happening."
The two boys approached Bobby's father, Bob, with the proposition.
"Jake had moved a bunch of times before fourth-grade. The two of them decided they wanted Jake to move in. They came up to me one night and asked, so me and the wife discussed the situation," Bob Shuttleworth said. "We had enough money so we let him move in. We sat down with Jake and his mother and she agreed to it and he has been living with us ever since."
The two boys grew up together playing on teams coached by Bob. They attended Mesa View Middle School and both went to Piedra Vista High School until Bobby Shuttleworth transferred to Farmington High School last year during the second semester while Armijo stayed at PV.
Bobby Shuttleworth said transferring was a little difficult but it was made easier thanks to the football team.
Enemies for the first time in their lives, the Scorpion linebacker is ready to make a big hit on Armijo if the PV wide receiver comes across the middle of the field Friday night.
"He better keep his head up," Bobby Shuttleworth joked. "I grew up playing with him and I am ending my years playing against him. There is some tension right now, but it is a lot of fun and I do wish Jake the best of luck."
While Bobby Shuttleworth has been a key part of a talented Farmington defense, Armijo returned to wide receiver this year for PV after taking a year away from football to focus on basketball.
Armijo is also a corner back for the Panthers while Bobby Shuttleworth doubles as a backup quarterback.
If for some reason Shuttleworth is to take any snaps Friday night, he said he would have no problem throwing Armijo's direction.
"I would pick it off," Armijo responded.
Adding another twist to the equation is Bob Shuttleworth, who has been a coach on Farmington High's staff under Gary Bradley the past three seasons.
Bob Shuttleworth is happy to be a coach on one of his son's teams again this year now that Bobby is a Scorpion, but he is especially excited because this Friday he finally gets to watch both boys on the same field at the same time.
"This is their last chance to play each other. It is never going to happen again for them," Bob Shuttleworth said. "It is the one guaranteed time they will both be on the field at the same time. It is the one time when I get to sit and watch them both play, or at least try to watch them play while I am doing my job."
Bob Shuttleworth coaches the Scorps' defensive ends and offensive lineman.
He coached YAFL for eight years and he also currently coaches his daughter Julie and son Johnny in their sports.
Bob Shuttleworth and his wife, Loretta, have six kids, including Jacob.
Football has always been a big part of the Shuttleworth family.
"Where I am from near Youngstown, Ohio, you are either playing football or you are wrong," Bob Shuttleworth said. "At my high school from the 1920s to 1989, there was a Shuttleworth on our team. There has always been a Shuttleworth playing linebacker or running the ball somewhere.
"I want all my kids to play sports. I don't care what sports they play, I just want them to play. It is their time to be kids and it is just something I don't want them to miss out on."
Despite having a key play maker from this week's opponent under his own roof, Bob Shuttleworth said he isn't trying to pry and information out of Armijo.
"We don't talk strategy at all. I don't talk to him about ours and won't ask him about theirs," Bob Shuttleworth said. "We may joke with each other around the house and give each other a hard time, but that is okay. Jake is my kid and I ain't going to be too hard on him this week. At the end of the day, it is all about family. I want Jake to win every week he plays, except this Friday. He is my boy and he is still going to have my support, but, for four quarters this Friday, he is on the other team."
Neither athlete wants to lose and let the other have bragging rights for the rest of their life, but both of them know how special it will be to shake hands at midfield after the final whistle, regardless of outcome.
"It might be a bit heart breaking to lose to him, but it won't be too bad because we are family no matter what," Bobby Shuttleworth said.
Armijo still stays in constant contact with his mother, Patricia Diaz, who currently lives in Albuquerque and attends games as often as she can. Armijo also has three younger brothers who live with Diaz.
But, at the end of the day, Armijo calls Bob Shuttleworth his dad and Bobby his brother.
"I can't even put into words how amazing it is for them to take me in like they did. It is awesome," Armijo said. "It is touching. What other families would do that?"