Mountain Pointe’s Jakim McKinney, #33, finds a blocking hole to run through on the way to scoring Pride’s second touchdown. Photo by Cheryl Haselhorst
Quarterback Nick Wallerstedt found the end zone three times through the air and once on the ground. JaKim McKinney and Gary Bragg each ran for two touchdowns. Kenny Churchwell and Delano Salgado manned the secondary with ease.
No. 3-ranked Mountain Pointe returned to its brand of football on Friday night and finished the regular season unbeaten on the road, defeating the Corona del Sol Aztecs at Hascall Henshaw Stadium, 56-6.
A week after suffering its first loss at home since 2011 to the hands of then No. 5-ranked Desert Ridge, Mountain Pointe (7-2) controlled both sides of the ball from the opening kickoff and cruised to an easy win over Corona (1-8).
“I’m really proud with how these guys rebounded,” Mountain Pointe coach Norris Vaughan said. “It was a great team victory, we needed this.”
After being held to just 181 yards on the ground against Desert Ridge, the Mountain Pointe rushing attack proved relentless on Friday night as it has most of the season, with McKinney and Bragg leading the way.
Coming into its final road game of the season averaging 258.8 yards per game — leading all 6A Central teams — the Pride offensive attack stood tall behind its offensive line as the running game returned to its former self and Wallerstedt aired it out.
On its opening drive of the game, Mountain Pointe recorded two quick first downs and on a broken coverage down the field, Wallerstedt found Lacarea Pleasant-Johnson for a wide open touchdown to give the Pride an early 7-0 lead.
It was the first of three passing touchdowns for the junior quarterback and his best game of the season through the air. He credits his improvements throughout the season to both his faith and his coaches on the sideline.
“The coaches have really been believing in me,” Wallerstedt said. “I’ve just been believing in my arm and the rest has figured itself out.”
“He’s really coming into himself,” Vaughan said.
On the defensive side of the ball, the Pride forced two Ryan Helt interceptions and recovered a fumble on Corona’s first drive of the second half.
Mountain Pointe’s defensive unit has often failed to receive the notoriety during the season’s victories, but with a 6A Central leading 14 interceptions coming into Friday night’s game, it showed why it’s a force to be reckon with.
“We did everything we wanted to do tonight,” Vaughan said. “The defense stepped up and really forced [them] into some mistakes.”
Heading into its final regular season game, the game plan for Mountain Pointe is to keep things simple. Don’t try to do too much but also place an importance on making the plays that need to be made.
“We just need to focus on consistency,” Vaughan said. “Penalties continue to hurt us and we really need to work on that.”
Mountain Pointe will look to carry momentum into its final regular season game next week and look to make a statement as it heads into the playoffs. The Pride will take on the No. 15-ranked Gilbert Tigers on senior night.