Pride continue to win with a strong defense and running game - Mountain Pointe’s Gary Bragg, #8, threads his way through Pinnacle... [ read more ]

Pride, Thunder tuning up this weekend for the Tukee Bowl - Mountain Pointe dominates Mountain View on the Road [Photo Special to... [ read more ]

Running game leads Mountain Pointe to third win. - Mountain Pointe’s Jakim McKinney, #33, evades a Mountain View tackle on... [ read more ]

Pride, Thunder both take to the road Friday after big wins - Marshawn Gibson marches down the field to start the fourth quarter against... [ read more ]

Mountain Pointe avenges state title loss, upsets Chandler on the road - Tyre Johnson carries the ball against Chandler Friday night at Austin... [ read more ]

Mountain Pointe football upsets Chandler on the road - Richard Morin, azcentral sportsPublished 10:14 p.m. MT Sept. 8,... [ read more ]

Mountain Pointe’s Gary Bragg, #8, threads his way through Pinnacle defenders as he picks up yardage.

Photo by Cheryl HaselhorstBy Eddie Poe AFN Contributor  |  Updated 

Pride continue to win with a strong defense and running game

Phoenix Mountain Pointe continues to display why it’s the No. 1 high school football team in the state. 

Much like they did during their first three wins, the Pride were dominant early on the defensive side and their overpowering offensive line created all sorts of running opportunities for a backfield that absolutely tortured Pinnacle to the tune of a 58-34 victory Friday night at Karl Kiefer Stadium. 

“The offensive line and our running backs were the story of the game,” said Mountain Pointe coach Norris Vaughan.

Led by quarterback phenom Spencer Rattler, Pinnacle (3-3) climbed their way back into the game after falling behind 44-14 with just over nine minutes left to play in the game. 

After Rattler found Quinton Powell down the middle of the field for a near perfect 66-yard touchdown pass and an onside kick was recovered, the 6’2 commit to the University of Oklahoma found Kaleb Covington in the end zone to suddenly cut Mountain Pointe’s (4-1) lead to 44-34 with 4:15 left to play. 

“We had some guys who were banged up and tired so we kept having to sub guys in,” Vaughan said. “They just kept coming at us.” 

It was too little too late for the Pioneers though, as quarterback Nick Wallerstedt and the Pride kept to the ground game and simply lulled the Pinnacle defense to sleep until time ran out.

What easily could’ve been a game most highlighted by Mountain Pointe’s stout defense, resulted in a true showing of just how dangerous Gary Bragg and Jakim McKinney can be behind one of the best offensive line’s in the state. 

“The line was great, they did what they always do,” running back Jakim McKinney said. “They got off the ball and when they pulled, they pulled as fast as they could. Every time they created that hole [us] backs were able to find it and just run.” 

Finishing the game with four rushing touchdowns, McKinney knew just how to find those holes. On the second play of the fourth quarter, McKinney took a handoff from Wallerstedt, stepped outside a bit, looked back inside and bolted through a hole on the way to a 58-yard touchdown run — his second of the game.

He later added a 25-yard touchdown run and another to seal the victory for Mountain Pointe. His partner in the backfield, Bragg, scored the first touchdown of the night for the Pride.

“We’re like a perfect duo,” McKinney said. “When one of us gets tired after a long run, the other one switches in and we just keep grinding until one of us scores. We both ran great tonight.”

The constant grind on the ground saw its true effectiveness to begin the second half. Running 18 plays — 17 of them on the ground — Mountain Pointe took eight minutes off the clock as they trudged 80 yards down the field, essentially taking all momentum out of Pinnacle’s sails. 

From there, the rout was on and Rattler was never able to develop a healthy relationship with his receivers until it was far too late. 

Even when the Pioneers put together a handful of positive plays on offense, third down came knocking and they struggled throughout the night to move the chains when they most needed to.

To no surprise, Mountain Pointe dominated the line of scrimmage. It’s what they’ve been best known for over the years and the one thing they’ve stuck to through their first five games. 

Despite a few first half mistakes, they tightened up some things at halftime and provided a strong showing on their first home game of the season. 

“We came out strong for our first home game,” Bragg said. “It feels great.”

Mountain Pointe will travel to Desert Vista on Thursday night for the annual Tukee Bowl.

Mountain Pointe dominates Mountain View on the Road [Photo Special to AFN]

Pride, Thunder tuning up this weekend for the Tukee Bowl

By Greg Macafee, AFN Sports Editor  |  

With the Ahwatukee Bowl just a week away, both Desert Vista and Mountain Pointe high schools seem to be hitting their stride.

Since losing their first game of the season, the Thunder have won three straight games, including a nail-biting win over Brophy this past Friday.

Desert Vista quarterback Derek Kline, who hasn’t thrown an interception since the team’s match with Perry, has started to show the Phoenix area why he is one of the top quarterbacks in the state. In four games, the 6-foot-5 gunslinger has thrown for 849 yards and nine touchdowns while running for a team-leading 150 yards.

Desert Vista’s strengths lie in its versatility to take advantage of whatever the defense throws at it. Whether attacked on the ground or through the air, the Thunder can handle both. The team can stop the run and – with an entire secondary returning from last year – stymie a pass attack as well.

In its upcoming matchup at home with the Dobson High Mustangs (3-1),  the game will be decided by not just execution but by the team’s commitment to discipline on both sides of the ball. A lack of discipline plagued the Thunder in the first game of the season against Perry and showed again as it battled the Broncos on Friday.

Kline highlighted the mistakes after the game on Friday and admitted that it was something that needs to be addressed before their matchup with Dobson.

Desert Vista is on a roll, and in order to keep its win streak alive, the defense will have to contain the strong running game that the Mustangs bring to the table. It starts with junior running back Issic Gomez.

In its three victories this season, the 5-foot-5, 150-pound running back has been a key to the Mustang offense, running for 281 yards and four touchdowns. Aiding him is senior tailback Jared Haggard, who has added 21 carries for 109 yards in those three victories as well.

When the running game has worked for the Mustangs, the passing game has opened. Junior quarterback Nicolas Saro has been the main benefactor, throwing for 326 yards and two touchdowns. His favorite target has been freshman wide receiver Xavier Jimenez, who has seven catches for 120 yards and a touchdown.

Defensively, the Mustangs have caused four fumbles in their three victories and held their opponents to a combined 29 points. They have also scored 85 points against those opponents as well.

Their lone loss against Gilbert High when Division I commit Jack Plummer threw for 133 yards and four touchdowns. Also, 10 different Tigers ran for a combined total of 213 yards.

This game will come down to the Thunder staying disciplined on both sides of the ball and not allowing the Mustangs to establish a run game early in the ballgame.

The two teams kick off at Dobson high school at 7 p.m. on Friday.

 

Mountain Pointe vs. Pinnacle

Mountain Pointe has won two games in a row against potential class 6A state playoff teams and its matchup this week will be no different, as it hosts Oklahoma commit Spencer Rattler and the Pinnacle Pioneers.

The Pride have dominated this year when they have established their running game. With Pinnacle struggling to stop the run game this season, look for head coach Norris Vaughan to do it once again this Friday night.

The Chandler backfield duo of Drake Anderson and DeCarlos Brooks combined 216 yards on the ground against Pinnacle. Although they didn’t get into the end zone, establishing the run game allowed quarterback Billy Bolger to dump the ball into the flats, finding Anderson for four touchdowns.

Centennial’s Zidane Thomas also thrashed the Pinnacle defense, carrying the ball 28 times for 334 yards and two touchdowns last week.

Establishing a running game will be a key component for the Pride to capture its fourth win of the season and build momentum into the Ahwatukee Bowl.

But, this is something the team has been able to do all season. Through four games, the Pride have rushed for 1,088 yards, which has opened options all over the field for quarterback Nick Wallerstedt.

The real challenge will be stopping Rattler.

In five games, the 6-foot-2, 185 pound gunslinger has been on a tear. He’s completed 91 passes for 1,066 yards and 10 touchdowns. He also has added 140 yards and three touchdowns on the ground. Although he has been exceptional, the young prospect has thrown an interception in every game but one.

This is where the Pride could take advantage of one of the top quarterbacks in the state, as Mountain Pointe’s secondary has quickly risen to become one of the best in Arizona. The defense has picked off seven passes and have combined to deflect 34 more.

The combination of Salgado, Kenny Churchwell, Marshawn Gibson, and others have only allowed more than 200 passing yards once this season. That came last Friday when Brandon Nunez threw for 201 yards, but he never found the end zone through the air.

The two teams will kick off at Mountain Pointe for the first time this season at 7 p.m. on Friday.

-Contact Sports Editor Greg Macafee at gmacafee@timespublications.com or by phone at 585-610-2344. Follow Greg on Twitter @greg_macafee

     

    Mountain View’s Jacobby Dinwiddie (red) and Mountain Pointe’s Lacarea Pleasant-Johnson grew up with each other and had several one-on-one battles on Friday night. (Darryl Webb/MyNewsMesa.com)

    Blood brothers battle it out on Friday night

    Mountain Pointe’s Jakim McKinney (#33) is lifted by teammates after he scores a touchdown in the second quarter of their high school football game against Chandler on Friday, Sept. 8, 2017, at Chandler High School in Chandler, Ariz.

    Arizona high school football rankings for 2017 season: Through Sept. 15

    , azcentral sportsPublished 4:05 p.m. MT Aug. 12, 2017 | Updated 3:00 p.m. MT Sept. 16, 2017

     

    This will be a season-long thread, ranking the top 10 teams in each of the six conferences in Arizona high school football for the 2017, as determined by Richard Obert of azcentral sports.

    Keep coming back to every week for updated rankings.

    Week 4

    Through Sept. 15

    6A

    No. 1 Gilbert Perry 5-0

    No. 2 Phoenix Mountain Pointe 3-1

    No. 3 Chandler 3-2

    No. 4 Phoenix Pinnacle 3-2

    No. 5 Chandler Hamilton 4-1

    No. 6 Gilbert Highland 5-0

    No. 7 Phoenix Desert Vista 3-1

    No. 8 Phoenix Horizon 3-1

    No. 9 Mesa Desert Ridge 3-1

    No. 10 Mesa Red Mountain 2-2

    Mountain Pointe’s Jakim McKinney, #33, evades a Mountain View tackle on his way into the end zone for the Pride’s first touchdown.  [Photo by Cheryl Haselhorst]

    Running game leads Mountain Pointe to third win.

    By Eddie Poe AFN Contributor | 9/16/17

    For a team that finished third in the 6A Conference in 2016 and fell short in the state title game, Phoenix Mountain Pointe looks to be doing everything they can to avenge last season’s result. 

    A week after upsetting then No.1 Chandler on the road, top-ranked Mountain Pointe kept its foot on the gas pedal Friday night, cruising to a 35-3 victory over No. 22 Mesa Mountain View. 

    “We were dominant on both offense and defense tonight,” Mountain Pointe coach Norris Vaughan said. “Our quarterback made plays and our backs ran really hard behind our line for most of the game.”

    Mountain Pointe (3-1) wasn’t perfect on either side of the ball by any means. It racked up over a dozen penalties throughout the game, which allowed Mountain View (2-2) a time of possession which nearly seemed like an eternity. Fortunately for the Pride, secondary play from Kenny Churchwell and Lacarea Pleasant-Johnson kept the Toros out of the end-zone numerous times despite the long list of penalties. 

    “[They] certainly made their fair share of plays,” Vaughan said. “We were so dominant on defense but it was the penalties that allowed them to stay on the field and keep their drives going.”

    For the second straight week, Mountain Pointe got the offensive push up front that they’re accustomed to seeing, which created a plethora of holes for the backfield. 

    After a drive early on led to a touchdown run by Jakim McKinney, a hole opened up once again to start the second quarter and Gary Bragg found paydirt for the second rushing touchdown in the game, scampering for a 23-yard touchdown to give the Pride a 14-3 lead.

    A critical mistake to go for it on fourth down deep in their own territory, came back to bite the Toros right before the half. Mountain Pointe took over possession at the Toros’ 23-yard-line and a few plays later, McKinney ran it in from nine yards out for his second touchdown of the game. 

    “We’ve all been working really hard at practice,” McKinney said. “Sometimes the guys up front make mistakes but they get right back up and they got a lot better tonight.”

    A few minutes before the half, Mountain View had their best opportunity to get back in the game but another crucial mistake proved costly. On a screen pass out left, quarterback Brandon Nuñez hit Jacobby Dinwiddie in the flat and the offensive line carved out an open path to the end zone and Dinwiddie took it to the house for what seemed like a must-have touchdown. Unfortunately, a holding penalty negated the touchdown pass and Mountain Pointe went into the half with a 21-3 lead.

    From there the rout continued as on the opening play of the second half, a hole practically the size of Arizona opened and quarterback Nick Wallerstedt it himself for a 77-yard touchdown run. 

    “We knew what to expect tonight and I felt like our guys came out and played really hard on both sides,” Vaughan said. “We just need to cut down on penalties.”

    To go along with four touchdowns on the ground, Wallerstedt connected with Pleasant-Johnson late in the fourth on a touchdown pass. He finished with a TD reception and an interception — a pick for a touchback late in the second quarter that stalled a Mountain View drive.

    The Pride will return home next week for the first time this season, when they welcome quarterback phenom Spencer Rattler and Pinnacle High School (3-2). 

    Photo: Carlos Salcedo, azcentral sports

    By:  | September 9, 2017

    Mountain Pointe (Phoenix) takes down No. 10 Chandler (Ariz.) on the road

    Following a loss to national power Chaminade Prep (Mission Viejo, Calif.), Phoenix Mountain Pointe stunned top-ranked Chandler, 24-21, on its home turf Friday.

    MORE: How the Super 25 fared for Sep. 8-Sept. 9

    Mountain Pointe quarterback Nick Wallerstedt got the game’s first score by way of a 3-yard keeper with just over a minute remaining in the first quarter. Two plays later, Jacob Olsen recovered a fumble by Chandler’s offense and returned it 12 yards to make it a two-score game.

    The Pride (2-1) kept the pressure on with a four-play, 83-yard drive punctuated by Jakim McKinney’s 2-yard plunge early in the second.

    Chandler (2-2) finally got a defensive stop midway through the second quarter and got on the board with a DeCarlos Brooks touchdown run with just over four minutes remaining in the half.

    Neither team scored in the third until Ben Abercrombie kicked a 16-yard field goal to make it 24-14 in favor of the Pride.

    However, on the next possession, Brooks scored on a 1-yard run to make it a three-point game. Mountain Pointe recovered the onside kick, but fumbled a few plays later and Chandler’s Avery Carrington recovered.

    With the ball and just two minutes left, the Chandler offense just couldn’t pull through and Mountain Pointe held on for the win.

    Marshawn Gibson marches down the field to start the fourth quarter against the Chandler Wolves.  [Photo courtesy of MP Football Facebook]

    Pride, Thunder both take to the road Friday after big wins

    By Greg Macafee, AFN Sports Editor  |  

    The tough competition doesn’t stop with last weekend’s defeat of Chandler High as Mountain Pointe High will see where it stands against the Arizona’s top football talent in the coming weeks.

    This week, the Pride will hit the road for the third straight week, taking on Mesa Mountain View (2-1).

    The Toros are 1-0 at home this year, defeating Corona del Sol (1-3) 35-18. They are led by Mike Fell, who won his 200th career game in the season opening victory over Valley Vista.

    Friday night will bring a matchup between two experienced head coaches and several talented players.

    Mountain Pointe will have the task of locking up the quarterback-receiver tandem of Brandon Nunez and Jacobby Dinwiddie. The pair has hooked up for 283 passing yards and one touchdown so far in 2017. As a sophomore, Dinwiddie was a huge part of the Toros offense, catching 70 passes for 1,012 yards and six touchdowns.

    Look for a talented secondary, led by Pride seniors Kenny Churchwell, Delano Salgado, Tyre Johnson and Marshawn Gibson to lock down the pair through the air.

    On the ground, the Toros have been led by senior tailback Dean Yamada who has tallied 198 yards on 40 carries.

    Mountain Pointe also will have to be on the lookout for the running ability of Nunez. The 6-foot-5, 210-pound quarterback has scampered for 63 yards this season, but he showed off his legs in the red zone against Valley Vista, finding the end zone twice.   

    If Pride secondary can contain the duo of Nunez and Dinwiddie, the talented trio of running backs from Mountain Pointe should have the opportunity to control the pace of the game like they have all season long.

    It’s been a staple of their offense since their first game, when senior Gary Bragg returned from an ACL injury last season with a 131-yard, three-touchdown performance against Sandra Day O’Connor.

    Against Chaminade, a top-10 school in California, Bragg was locked up for just 45 yards on 10 carries. But, junior running back Jakim McKinney made his presence known, rushing for 70 yards and two touchdowns.

    Another important aspect of Mountain Pointe’s matchup with Mountain View will be the play of quarterback Nick Wallerstedt.

    With a stout running game behind him and a big offensive line in front of him, the Pride signal-caller has been able to manage games. He has made throws when he has needed to, but also has used his feet when given the opportunity.

    His three-yard quarterback keeper against Chandler put the Pride ahead and they never looked back.  

    With a big redemption win over the state champions, the Pride look to be back to form after a tough loss against Chaminade. It still has a tough schedule ahead as Pinnacle and the Ahwatukee bowl both await in the weeks ahead.

    Desert Vista vs. Brophy Prep

    Desert Vista High School (2-1) made it two wins in a row on Friday with a 44-13 win over Mesa Skyline and this week it will look to make it three as they travel to Brophy Prep (1-3) to take on the Broncos.  

    Brophy Prep fell to undefeated Highland this past Friday 14-6 in another close contest, a recurring theme for the Broncos. They squeaked out a 28-27 win against Westview and fell to Desert Ridge by nine points.

    While their record may not show it, the Broncos boast a talented roster full of playmakers that head coach Daniel Hinds and his team will have to be on the lookout for. The talent of the Broncos starts in the backfield with quarterback Noah Gonzales.

    The 6-foot-2 gunslinger has completed 50 percent of his passes in 2017 for 735 yards and five touchdowns. His only game without 200-plus passing yards came in their season opening loss to Pinnacle.

    In his first season under center, Gonzales has found two favorite targets in seniors Xavier Juniel and senior Donovan Arthur. The two receivers have combined for 374 yards and three touchdowns in four games.

    But he has also struggled at times, throwing three interceptions in the game against Highland.

    This is an area of the game that a strong Desert Vista secondary could take advantage of as the combination of James Stagg, Caleb Humphrey and Larry Davis should stymie the Brophy running game. In both of Desert Vista’s victories season, they have held opponents below 200 rushing yards.

    Offensively, the Thunder will look to continue to keep up their high scoring efforts as they are clicking in both the passing and running game.

    Since throwing two interceptions against Perry, quarterback Derek Kline has been big for the Thunder. He’s completed over 60 percent of his passes in the past two games and he’s also thrown for seven touchdowns.

    That streak should continue against Brophy if the Thunder can avoid turning the ball over, which they have done in the past two games other than a lone fumble against Basha.

    Along with Kline, look for senior Keishaud White to have a big impact in their fourth game of the season. He has scored in all three games, both through the air and on the ground. But on Friday he added another facet to his scoring repertoire against Skyline, returning a kickoff 90 yards for a touchdown.

    – Contact Sports Editor Greg Macafee at gmacafee@timespublications.com or by phone at 585-610-2344. Follow Greg on Twitter @greg_macafee

     

    Tyre Johnson carries the ball against Chandler Friday night at Austin Field.  |  Photo by Kimberly Carrillo

    Mountain Pointe avenges state title loss, upsets Chandler on the road

    By Eddie Poe AFN Contributor

    From the start, you could tell it weighed heavy on their minds.

    After falling in last year’s 6A state championship to Chandler, Mountain Pointe found the best type of redemption on Friday night — knocking off the No.1 team in the state on their own turf.

    With a three-headed backfield controlling the running game early on, junior quarterback Nick Wallerstedt remained poised behind a stout offensive line as No. 2 Mountain Pointe stunned No.1 Chandler 24-21 on Friday night at Austin Field.

    “I’m so proud of these boys, each and every one of them,” coach Norris Vaughan said.

    As he shook hands and received congratulatory hugs from his coaching staff following the game, Vaughan yelled, “This ain’t us!”

    He was referring to last week’s game against national power Chaminade Prep (Mission Viejo, Calif.) in which the Pride were unable to overcome a slew of mistakes en route to a loss.

    A different Mountain Pointe team showed up on Friday night though.

    Just before the end of the first quarter, the Pride (2-1) got things started when Wallerstedt took a keeper in from three yards out. Ten seconds later, Jacob Olsen recovered a fumble by Chandler and ran it in from 12 yards out to give the Pride a 14-0 lead.

    On their first drive of the second quarter, Chandler made another costly mistake. The punter was unable to kick the ball away after a high snap and the Pride were gifted the ball on Chandler’s 17-yard line.

    A few plays later, Jakim McKinney ran in it from two yards out and there was utter silence from the Chandler faithful. 

    “That early momentum carried us,” Wallerstedt said. “It was exactly what we needed.”

    Chandler (2-2) didn’t just fall back and fold. After four failed drives to start the game, backup quarterback Billy Bolger (replacing the injured Jacob Conover) began finding seams and the offense received some help in the form of a roughing the passer penalty. 

    After a run that put them in the red zone was called back on a holding penalty, the Wolves eventually got on the board on a DeCarlos Brooks touchdown run with 4:37 remaining in the half.

    For nearly the entire third quarter, both offenses stalled, unable to move the ball down the field. Driving towards the end of the quarter, Bolger found a receiver open across the middle and he took it 36 yards for a touchdown to cut Mountain Pointe’s lead to 21-14 as the third quarter ended.

    Wallerstedt and Mountain Pointe’s backfield trio — Gary Bragg, Delano Salgado, and Marshawn Gibson — wore the Chandler defense down as they marched down the field to start the fourth quarter. Taking nearly seven minutes off the clock, Ben Abercrombie capped off the drive with a 16-yard field goal to give the Pride a 24-14 lead with five and half minutes remaining. 

    Bolger and the Wolves didn’t feel the pressure though as they answered with a score of their own, running in a short touchdown to cut the lead back to 24-21 with just under three minutes to go. 

    Then, on a handoff out left, the ball fell from Bragg’s hands as he turned up field and the Wolves recovered the fumble. The home crowd was the loudest it had been all game long, while the visiting Mountain Pointe fans were in utter shock. 

    Just like a strong team does, the defense picked up the mistake made by the offense. On fourth down and the game on the line, Bolger’s pass was tipped up in the air and Salgado secured it to seal the victory. 

    On the ground, the Pride ran for an even 200 yards while Wallerstedt accounted for 79 all-purpose yards and a touchdown.

    “We’re still finding out who we are,” Vaughan said. “But this game helps us in the direction of finding it.”

    Mountain Pointe will continue their season on the road next week as they travel to Mesa Mountain View.

    , azcentral sportsPublished 10:14 p.m. MT Sept. 8, 2017

    Mountain Pointe football upsets Chandler on the road

    Following a loss to national power Chaminade Prep (Mission Viejo, Calif.), Phoenix Mountain Pointe stunned top-ranked Chandler, 24-21, on its home turf Friday. 

    Mountain Pointe quarterback Nick Wallerstedt got the game’s first score by way of a 3-yard keeper with just over a minute remaining in the first quarter. Two plays later, Jacob Olsen recovered a fumble by Chandler’s offense and returned it 12 yards to make it a two-score game. 

    The Pride (2-1) kept the pressure on with a four-play, 83-yard drive punctuated by Jakim McKinney’s 2-yard plunge early in the second. 

    Chandler (2-2) finally got a defensive stop midway through the second quarter and got on the board with a DeCarlos Brooks touchdown run with just over four minutes remaining in the half. 

    Neither team scored in the third until Ben Abercrombie kicked a 16-yard field goal to make it 24-14 in favor of the Pride. 

    However, on the next possession, Brooks scored on a 1-yard run to make it a three-point game. Mountain Pointe recovered the onside kick, but fumbled a few plays later and Chandler’s Avery Carrington recovered. 

    With the ball and just two minutes left, the Chandler offense just couldn’t pull through and Mountain Pointe held on for the win. 

    Standout performer

    Nick Wallerstedt took advantage of a sloppy Chandler contingent on Friday, grinding out 79 all-purpose yards and a touchdown. An effective running game behind him allowed the junior quarterback to pick his spots from the pocket – and he did not waste his opportunities. 

    More standouts

    Jacob Olsen (Mountain Pointe): Recovered and returned a fumble for a touchdown in the first quarter and recorded an important sack in the second half. 

    Jarick Caldwell (Chandler): In a relatively quiet night for the Wolves’ offense, Caldwell still impressed with six catches for 50 yards.

    Star watch

    Delano Selgado (Mountain Pointe): Although he didn’t reach the end zone, the speedy back was a productive playmaker for the Pride – finishing with 46 yards on 8 carries and a key interception on defense. 

    Jacob Conover and Gunner Romney (Chandler): The Wolves surely missed their standout quarterback-receiver duo on Friday night. Conover – who has offers from Alabama and Arizona, among others – is out with a shoulder sprain. The BYU commit Romney is nursing a knee injury. 

    Quote of the game

    After a hard-fought loss the previous week, Wallerstedt said his team deserved the win after all the hard work they put in during preparation for Friday’s game. 

    “It feels great,” Wallerstedt said. “We’ve been fighting all week, preparing as a team and staying focused. We deserve it.”

    Stat of the game

    As a team, Mountain Pointe rushed for an even 200 yards. 

    Up next

    Chandler will travel to face Phoenix Sandra Day O’Connor next Friday, and Mountain Pointe will also take to the road for a bout with Mesa Mountain View. 

     

    After intercepting his pass, MP’s Isaiah Palo-Mao tries to jump over Chandler’s Jacob Conover (17) downfield. Watching is brother Matthew Palo-Mao.  |  By Greg Macafee AFN Sports Editor

    Pride seeks revenge in game against Chandler tonight

    Tonight, Sept. 8, two of the top high school football teams in Arizona will battle it out in a rematch of the 2016 Class 6A state championship – a game that ended with the Chandler Wolves capturing their second state title in three years by defeating Mountain Pointe Pride.

    While their seasons ended differently in 2016, the two teams have traveled similar paths since that day in December.

    Both teams have lost top players to graduation, including Isaiah Palo-Moa for Mountain Pointe and T.J. Green for Chandler, who were among other great players that contributed to their successes last season.

    Players on both sides have also stepped into those vacated roles, hoping to contribute to another winning season.  

    To gain experience and see where they stand with the best of the best, Chandler and Mountain Pointe have also faced off against some of the best teams in the nation.

    Chandler (2-1) took on No. 2-ranked IMG Academy on Aug. 26,, falling 27-14; Mountain Pointe (1-1) five days later fell to the No. 9-ranked team in California, Chaminade. After the loss to Chaminade, Pride Head Coach Norris Vaughan said the Pride, will just have to get better.

    “We gotta improve on everything, we got to get better at everything that we can do,” Vaughan said.

    Early on this season, injuries have begun to plague both teams. The Pride started off the season without linemen Matthew Pola-mao and Cole Cundary. The Wolves also have been hit by injury when quarterback Jacob Conover suffered a shoulder injury against IMG, leaving him in a sling for a few weeks. 

    As it is still early in the season, both teams still have time to recover from injuries and grow.

    The Pride has showcased strength in the run game with the return of Gary Bragg, combined with junior running back Jakim McKinney. And as expected, the defensive trio of Kenny Churchwell, Delano Salgado and Shomari Hayes will be big for Mountain Pointe.

    Expect the Mountain Pointe defense to face off against a talented offense led by senior quarterback Billy Bolger.

     Combined with a potent running game, he led the Wolves to an overtime, 35-28, win over Spencer Rattler and Pinnacle on Friday in his first varsity start, throwing for 240 yards and five touchdowns.

    Chandler running back Drake Anderson was a big part of that potent offense, running for 106 yards. But he also added 95 yards through the air and caught four touchdowns.

    This game will be big for both teams, it will give them a good idea of where they lie within the state.

    As both teams recover from injuries and get better on the field, don’t expect these two teams to look quite the same in November. Last season, Mountain Pointe rolled over Chandler 52-7 in the regular season before falling to the Wolves in the state championship.

    “We are looking for growth, were playing two nationally ranked teams, two weeks in a row,” Vaughan said. “This will only make us better, whether or not we can get over the hump and win these games, I don’t know. I mean we still have a chance to win, but they are really strong.”

    Desert Vista vs Skyline

    On the other side of Ahwatukee, the Desert Vista Thunder recovered from a season opening loss to Perry with a 29-19 win over Basha High School.

    The Thunder did it with a sick quarterback who attacked a Basha defense for 270 yards and three touchdowns.

    After the game, coach Daniel Hinds called quarterback Derek Kline a warrior after being able to lead his team to its first “W” this season.

    The Thunder (1-1) looked like the team everyone has expected them to be, a potent offense with a highly touted, hard-hitting, defense. Now, it looks to carry that energy into the next matchup with Skyline (2-1) on Friday.

    The Coyotes come off a big 41-3 victory over the Valley Vista Monsoon last week and will take to the road this Friday for the first time this season.

    The Coyotes have been consistent on the ground this season with Aaron Wood and junior quarterback Steven Castle leading the way behind a big and strong offensive line.

    Friday’s game will be a battle in the trenches as the offensive line of Skyline will face off with the three-headed monster of James Stagg, Larry Davis and Caleb Humphrey.

    While the Coyotes may look to stick to their run game, look for the Thunder to play into whatever the Skyline defense gives them, as they have several weapons that can affect games in big ways.

     It has been Hinds’s mindset from the beginning and so far, it has seemed to work for the Thunder after a disappointing week-one loss.

    Now, they seem to be back on track.

    “We know we have the chemistry and the ability to be a good team, but we didn’t show that on the field against Perry,” senior wide out Jake White said after their victory over Basha.

    -Contact Sports Editor Greg Macafee at gmacafee@timespublications.com or by phone at 585-610-2344. Follow Greg on Twitter @greg_macafee