GILBERT — This Friday, several Air Force players will make a homecoming when the Falcons meet Washington State in the Cheez-It Bowl at Chase Field at 8:15 p.m., including one defensive star whose family opened its doors to welcome him home for Christmas.
It’s a scene that’s played over a thousand times in the Bugg household. Father and son talking over yet the next big game.
"To watch him live in the moment is really a prayer answered," Tre's father Milton Bugg Jr. said.
A key cog in Air Force's standout defense this season, Tre Bugg III has gone from local star at Williams Field high school to one of the Mountain West’s top cover corners. The junior has compiled 48 tackles and a team high three interceptions on the season.
Returning to practice at Chaparral high school this week brought the former Arizona state champion back to his roots, if only for this week.
"It really does because we played this team senior year, so I definitely enjoy it, it’s great to play in your home state," Bugg said.
Back home in Gilbert, the oldest of three boys can enjoy the role for a few days between practices before preparing to shine on a huge local stage.
"This is going to be like nothing else I remember," Tre's mom Michelle Bugg said. "Taking the boys to Chase Field to see the Diamondbacks play and now he’s going to be on the field. Playing in a football game against one of the biggest passing teams there is in Washington State."
A hometown favorite, Bugg requested 29 tickets for family and friends to come watch the big showdown in downtown Phoenix.
"The last time they saw me play was three years ago in the playoff game, my senior state game," Bugg said. "It’s been about three years since anyone in Arizona has seen me play. I’m looking forward to playing in my state again and putting on for around the 35 people coming to the game."
It's a homecoming full of holiday spirit, that’s only missing one element: A winning ending.
"All his friends and coaches want tickets but he’s got a fan base and that’s a testament to who he is as a person," Bugg Jr. said.