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MP’s D1 Signees - Under the tutelage of Head Coach Norris Vaughan, 30 Mountain Pointe... [ read more ]

Matthew Pola-Mao Named #2 on Arizona’s top high school football prospects: 2019 class - Matthew Pola Mao  (Photo by Sports360AZ) No. 2 Matthew Pola-Mao, Phoenix... [ read more ]

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Isaiah Pola-Mao finalists for Arizona Sports Awards Big Schools Football Athlete of Year - Arizona Sports Awards Big Schools Football Athlete of Year finalists: T.J.... [ read more ]

State championship: Fast start, first-quarter psyche key in 6A finals - Mountain Pointe’s Jaydon Brooks tries to split two defenders.... [ read more ]

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Arizona Sports Awards Big Schools Football Athlete of Year finalists: T.J. Green, Isaiah Pola-Mao, Brock Purdy

, azcentral sportsPublished 5:42 p.m. MT Dec. 10, 2016 | Updated 12:48 p.m. MT Dec. 11, 2016

The Arizona Sports Awards, presented by Arby’s, will honor an Athlete of the Year in every sport at the spring 2017 event.

At the end of each season, azcentral sports will announce three finalists for each Athlete of the Year award. The finalists are listed alphabetically.

All three will be invited to the awards show where the winner will be announced live. More information on the spring 2017 event will be announced soon.

April 30, 2017

ASU Gammage   |   Doors at 7pm, Show at 8pm   |   Speaker: Larry Fitzgerald












Phoenix Mountain Pointe safety and wide receiver Isaiah Pola-Mao is a finalist for the Arizona Sports Awards, presented by Arby’s, Big Schools Football Athlete of the Year. (Photo: Tom Tingle/azcentral sports)

Isaiah Pola-Mao

School: Phoenix Mountain Pointe

Year: Senior

Positions: Safety, wide receiver

Pola-Mao was a big-play receiver, but he left a legacy on defense, a three-time All-Arizona selection at safety. He had seven interceptions as a sophomore, four his junior year and 10 this season, including six in the last three playoff games.

He returned two of his three interceptions for touchdowns in the 47-21 6A Conference quarterfinal win over Mesa Desert Ridge. He had an interception in the 21-14 semifinal win over Mesa Red Mountain and two more in the state final against Chandler, a 37-17 loss, in which he injured his shoulder.

“I thought he was the best player in the state,” said Mountain Pointe coach Norris Vaughan, who believes Pola-Mao will be playing in the NFL some day.

Pola-Mao, an imposing figure at 6-foot-4, 200 pounds, was arguably the biggest hitter in the state. It was hard to get around him. He had 100 tackles, 31 solo, this year. He broke up 18 passes and caused two fumbles, including one in the championship game.

On offense, Pola-Mao had his biggest season, catching 27 passes for 640 yards (23.7 yards per catch) and nine TDs. His performance in the first meeting with Chandler was off the charts. He caught two TD passes, set up another with a diving grab near the goal line and intercepted a pass in the 52-7 win.

Mountain Pointe was ranked among the top 10 teams in the nation most of the season with Pola-Mao the heart and soul of the team.

“It was awesome,” Pola-Mao said of the season. “If I could redo it, I’d do it. I was glad I could play the past few years with this team.

“The interceptions, honestly, it started up front with the D-line, with Khalif (Ravenell), Shomari (Hayes) and my brother (Matthew). They get to the quarterback and cause pressure. I’m just doing my job.”


Ralph Amsden | Publisher  |  3 Feb 2017 2018 Early Prospect and Player Rankings

With 2017’s signing day in the books, here’s the earliest version of ArizonaVarsity’s 2018 prospect and player rankings. Our rankings will differ from Rivals official list, and will be updated and expanded on every month for the next year, until Signing Day 2018. This is the only version of the list that won’t be premium content, so make sure and subscribe to ArizonaVarsity so you don’t miss out on future content.

Important to remember- prospect rankings and player rankings are different. Prospects rankings involve athletes projected to be in-demand college recruits. Player rankings project and react to on-field performance at the high school level. Send any feedback to

Arizona Varsity 2018 Prospect Rankings
Rank Player/Position/School
1 Solomon Enis (WR) North Canyon
2 Kenny Churchwell (DB) Mountain Pointe
3 Joey Ramos (OL) Deer Valley
4 Jamarye Joiner (ATH) Cienega
5 Gunner Romney (WR) Chandler
6 Josiah Bradley (ATH) Saguaro
7 Max Wilhite (OL) Desert Edge
8 James Stagg (TE) Desert Vista
9 Jawhar Jordan (ATH) Hamilton
10 Jarick Caldwell (WR) Chandler
11 Sean Andersen (OL) Verrado
12 Jack Plummer (QB) Gilbert
13 Mike Rogers (ATH) Cesar Chavez
14 Ralph Frias (OL) Safford
15 Alijah Gammage (DB) Desert Vista
16 Brock Purdy (QB) Perry
17 Max Massingale (QB) Saguaro
18 Slater Zellers (LS) Notre Dame Prep
19 Shomari Hayes (DL) Mountain Pointe
20 Donjae Logan (DB) Desert Ridge
21 Jayden Lee (OL) Campo Verde
22 Giovanni Miranda (WR) Saguaro
23 Lance Lawson (ATH) Red Mountain
24 Brayden Flynn (DL) Hamilton
25 Tyson Jones (OL) Desert Edge
26 Tyler Shough (QB) Hamilton
27 Ja’Tai Jenkins (ATH) Verrado
28 Malik Clark (DL) Moon Valley
29 Keishaud White (ATH) Desert Vista
30 Chris Manoa (DL) Chandler
31 Josiah Bailey (ATH) Kellis
32 Hunter Mayginnes (OL) Hamilton
33 Robert Jordan (DL) Mesquite
34 Draycen Hall (RB) Higley
35 Gary Bragg (RB) Mountain Pointe
36 Damaria Norris (RB) Cactus
37 Tristen D’Angelo (WR) Boulder Creek
38 Ezekiel Robbins (DB) Hamilton
39 Bryce Jackson (DB) Chandler
40 Kaleb Seumanutafa (ATH) Apollo
41 James Reed (TE) Boulder Creek
42 Austin Young (OL) Desert Edge
43 Aidan Diggs (ATH) Millennium
44 Cade Matthews (LB) Higley
45 Treyvon Williams (DB) Desert Edge
46 Dakota Haynes (LB) Pusch Ridge
47 Cash Peterman (K) Chandler
48 Jared Wood (QB) Florence
49 Cole Fisher (RB) Notre Dame Prep
50 Austin Duffy (QB) Red Mountain
Arizona Varsity 2018 Player Rankings- QB
Rank Player/School
1 Brock Purdy- Perry
2 Max Massingale- Saguaro
3 Jamarye Joiner- Cienega
4 Jared Wood- Florence
5 Tyler Shough- Hamilton
6 Mahal Lee- Cactus
7 Nate Dobson- Peoria
8 Jack Plummer- Gilbert
9 Austin Duffy- Red Mountain
10 Andrew Young- Cactus Shadows
11 Ruben Beltran III- Centennial
12 Ernie Peña- Millennium
Arizona Varsity 2018 Player Rankings- RB
Rank Player/School
1 Draycen Hall- Higley
2 Lance Lawson- Red Mountain
3 Damaria Norris- Cactus
4 Mike Rogers- Cesar Chavez
5 Jawhar Jordan- Hamilton
6 Sekou Tyler- Paradise Honors
7 Gary Bragg- Mountain Pointe
8 Cole Fisher- Notre Dame Prep
9 Tyrese Allen- Desert Ridge
10 Troy Ferestad- Bisbee
11 Nolan Susel- Florence
12 Kris Jackson- Mesa
Arizona Varsity 2018 Player Rankings- WR
Rank Player/School
1 Gunner Romney- Chandler
2 Solomon Enis- North Canyon
3 Cameron Gardner- Casa Grande
4 Josiah Bailey- Kellis
5 Tristen D’Angelo- Boulder Creek
6 Jacob Kaites- Scottsdale Christian
7 Jarick Caldwell- Chandler
8 Bujon Boyd- American Leadership (QC)
9 Joshua Walker- Desert Mountain
10 Keishaud White- Desert Vista
11 Xavier Watkins- Paradise Valley
12 Jake White- Desert Vista
Arizona Varsity 2018 Player Rankings- TE
Rank Player/School
1 James Stagg- Desert Vista
2 James Reed- Boulder Creek
3 Shamon Salway- Window Rock
4 Tate Speaker- Perry
5 Mario Meza- Douglas
6 Edmond Ashton- Lee Williams
7 Carter White- Poston Butte
8 Jesse Bravin- River Valley
Arizona Varsity 2018 Player Rankings- OL
Rank Player/School
1 Joey Ramos- Deer Valley
2 Max Wilhite- Desert Edge
3 Tyson Jones- Desert Edge
4 Mason Honne- Mountain Pointe
5 Jayden Lee- Campo Verde
6 Hunter Mayginnes- Hamilton
7 Austin Young- Desert Edge
8 Xavier Robinson- Deer Valley
9 Ralph Frias- Safford
10 Jozia Myers- Campo Verde
11 Jaden Hoyt- Northwest Christian
12 Javier Meza- Cesar Chavez
13 Jose Lopez- Salpointe
14 Tristan Rael- Chandler
15 Zach Neff- Perry
16 David Watson- Amphitheatre
17 Justin Segura- Horizon
18 Kaleb Seumanutafa- Apollo
19 Trevor Renfro- Centennial
20 Sean Benke- Mountain View (Marana)
Arizona Varsity 2018 Player Rankings- DL
Rank Player/School
1 Brayden Flynn- Hamilton
2 Shomari Hayes- Mountain Pointe
3 Chris Manoa- Chandler
4 Brayden Smith- Ironwood Ridge
5 Kaleb Seumanutafa- Apollo
6 Robert Jordan- Mesquite
7 Raymond Cruz- Dysart
8 Dylan Gabbard- Show Low
9 Scott Jones- Cactus
10 Kyle White- Notre Dame Prep
11 Brandon Myree- Basha
12 Khalif Ravenell- Mountain Pointe
13 Ryan Salmon- Scottsdale Christian
14 Jared Mix- Mountain View (Mesa)
15 Jobiin Sweat- Perry
Arizona Varsity 2018 Player Rankings- LB
Rank Player/School
1 Cade Matthews- Higley
2 Dakota Haynes- Pusch Ridge
3 Tre O’Guinn- North Canyon
4 Vincent Elrod- Notre Dame Prep
5 Cutter Hatch- Perry
6 Jordan Ware- Centennial
7 Jakob Redford- American Leadership (QC)
8 Shelton Mathis- Florence
9 Richard Molina- Yuma Catholic
10 Dante Coleman- Queen Creek
11 Shaun’dell Hawkins- Williams Field
12 Larry Davis- Desert Vista
13 Isaiah Joya- Yuma
14 Fabian Suniga- Shadow Ridge
15 Sebastian Bautista- Veritas Prep
16 Kevin Altmaier- Greenway
17 Jacob Olsen- Mountain Pointe
18 Tate Stevens- Highland
19 Shane Kratzer- Paradise Honors
20 Anthony Madril- Salpointe
21 Fernando Becerra- Carl Hayden
Arizona Varsity 2018 Player Rankings- DB
Rank Player/School
1 Kenny Churchwell- Mountain Pointe
2 Alijah Gammage- Desert Vista
3 Josiah Bradley- Saguaro
4 Bryce Jackson- Chandler
5 Donjae Logan- Desert Ridge
6 Dylan Stevenson- Pinnacle
7 Solomon Enis- North Canyon
8 Sekou Tyler- Paradise Honors
9 Rodney Rogers II- Cienega
10 Devon Waite- Mountain View (Mesa)
11 Aaron Turrey- Sunnyslope
12 Elijah Neal- Peoria
13 Andrew Smith- Marana
14 Ricky Manning- Notre Dame Prep
15 Bradyn Brown- Pima
16 Bobby Carlon- Moon Valley
17 Daniel Frampton- Phoenix Christian
18 Jake White- Desert Vista
19 Treyvon Williams- Desert Edge
20 Derick Bush- Salpointe
21 Donte Lindsey- Mountain Pointe
22 Trent Campbell- Estrella Foothills
23 Jose Escalera- Central
Arizona Varsity 2018 Player Rankings- Specialist
Rank Player/School
1 Slater Zellers- Notre Dame Prep
2 Cash Peterman- Chandler
3 Jacori Wooten- Queen Creek
4 Patrick McInerney- Saguaro
5 Matt Brock- Mesquite


State championship: Fast start, first-quarter psyche key in 6A finals

Posted: Friday, November 25, 2016 6:11 pm

The first quarter of a football game is anything but sudden death.

The 6A Conference state title game on Saturday just might the closest thing to it.

The first 12 minutes, or even less, for that matter, could very well be critical in determining the outcome between No. 1 Mountain Pointe and No. 2 Chandler.

Usually the first couple of drives involve a feeling out process for a long back-and-forth battle.

This one just might be different when they kickoff at 7 p.m. at University of Phoenix Stadium.

The Pride (13-0) absolutely trounced Chandler 52-7 on Sept. 8. It means a fast start by Mountain Pointe could very well put the Wolves in a here-we-go-again mode.

Then again if Chandler (11-2) grabs the early lead and momentum it is a continuation of one of the more dominant stretches in recent memory.

If that is the scenario it squarely puts the Pride in a position of unknown.

“We can’t panic if we get behind early,” Mountain Pointe coach Norris Vaughan said. “We will do what we do and stay the course.”

Mountain Pointe hasn’t trailed all season and until last week’s 21-14 squeaker against No. 13 Red Mountain, the Pride only had one opponent have a fourth quarter drive that could have tied the game.

And that was over with 10 minutes left.

“Getting off to a fast start is going to be so important,” Chandler coach Shaun Aguano said. “Especially from a psyche standpoint.

“For us if we get down, do we think about the first game? For them they haven’t been behind early, and we haven’t been much either. We want to get off early and see how they react to it.”

Mountain Pointe feels like last week’s game – losing a 14-0 lead and having to dig deep for a little extra to win a tie game in the fourth quarter – came at the perfect time.

“That just happened last week,” senior offensive lineman Eddie Rivas said. “We were tested and we pulled it out. We know that’s something we can do after winning all of our games pretty easy.”

It was the surprise game of the week as senior quarterback Noah Grover, who returned after a six week layoff, was out of sorts and came at a cost as four starters, including Rivas, came out of the game dinged up. Vaughan is hopeful all will be ready to go as the Pride tries for the program’s second title in four seasons, but was unsure as of Tuesday’s media day.

“To win a state championship you have to be lucky and healthy,” he said. “Hopefully we will be really lucky because we are not very healthy.”

The Pride has one of the top defenses in the state, and has the size and speed to match up with Chandler. The Wolves haven’t faced much a challenge since losing to the Pride, outscoring opponents 508-156 over the last nine games.

It all adds to feeling that the Pride comes into the game reeling a bit and the Wolves, who looked to win their second title in three years, playing better than just about anyone in the state.

“I think our kids are more focused than they were the first time,” Aguano said of his players, who held a meeting without the coaches early in the week. “We are playing better football right now. Mountain Pointe is a physical and fast football team, and very athletic. They match up well against us all across the board.”

The Pride have imposed their will up front on teams all year long as the offense averages 310.4 yards a game on the ground and the defensive line often spikes a running back behind the line of scrimmage.

The Wolves, however, are similar in size and physical play on both sides of the ball. The close encounters up front are going to go a long way in determining who ends up on the stage at midfield Saturday night.

“I think we have to posses the ball and limit Chandler’s snaps,” Vaughan said. “Defensively, we are really good and we think we can do some things. They have been playing with the chains in their favor. We have to be able to get first downs and not turn the ball over.”

The Chandler offense, which has been led by sophomore quarterback Jacob Conover all year long, is ready for the challenge of Mountain Pointe’s defense, which has held opponents to two touchdowns or less nine times.

“We never panic and just get ready for the next play,” senior wide receiver Johnny Johnson said. “I think we are rolling a lot more as a team. The work we put in has us prepared, and we have believed all along (since the Mountain Pointe game) we were never going to lose again.”

One team has to come Saturday night when the 2016 season comes to end.

“At this time of the year the season is kind of like life,” Vaughan said. “You go through this journey and you have ups and downs all of the time. You lose people in your life. It is a long journey.

“And it is defined by one more game.”

Contact writer: (480) 898-7915 or Follow him on Twitter @JasonPSkoda

By the numbers

                            C             MP

Avg. rush yards      265.3       310.3

Avg. pass yards      257.1       139.8

All-purpose yards    545.9       556.2

Total TDs               77             80

Points per game      48.3         44.5

Pts allowed avg.      22.3        12.3

Tackles for a loss     61           63.5

Sacks                    29            32

QB hurries              82           82

INTs by defense      13            21

State championship: Opposing coaches weigh-in on 6A title game

Posted: Friday, November 25, 2016 1:10 pm

By the time a 10-week regular season and a handful of playoffs games are played there is a pretty good log book of the tendencies of each team.

Leading up to a state title game Hudl is run on a continuous loop as the coaching staffs try to gain any advantage.

Sometimes an outside perspective can provide some insight that those too close to the game can’t see or won’t say.

We talked to two 6A coaches who played either Mountain Pointe and/or Chandler this year. They’ve had common opponents and seen enough film on both teams to have an idea of what to expect in Saturday’s title game.

Here some of their perspectives:

* “Mountain Pointe puts everything on their offensive line. There are games where they throw the ball five or six times, and when they do pass they just do it for show. It’s a big line and they have been great, but if you stop the run then are they ready to get it done with the pass?”

* So what do you do? Do you load the box and make you beat with the pass? No. 6 (Jaydon Brooks) and No. 9 (Isaiah Pola-Mao) are going to win most one-one-one matchups.”

* The Mountain Pointe offense changed with the young quarterback (Nick Wallerstedt), and they kept winning. That’s pretty impressive. How much do they use him?”

* You have to establish the run against that Mountain Pointe defense. You are not going to beat them with the pass, at least not consistently. They are too good.”

* Chandler’s offense is the best in the state. Their skills guys are great, but no one talks about the line enough. They give the skills guys a chance because they good and physical. They are one team that matches up well up front with Mountain Pointe.”

* The Chandler defense is beatable, but they are playing better. They are getting to the ball carrier in groups. They are playing with big leads so they can take chances and their mistakes are hidden a little bit.”

* “The Chandler offense has so much momentum. Their confidence has skyrocketed. They are doing all of their damage on first and second down. You have to get them in third and long or third and five. They haven’t faced that a lot lately. Make them earn and keep them from running wild on first and second down with (TJ) Green and (Ryan) Johnson.”

* “Chandler can get you so many ways it forces the defense to pretty vanilla because you can’t defend all of those guys, the running backs with (Johnny) Johnson and No. 18 (Gunner Romney) on the outside. No real weakness shows up on film.”

* “Mountain Pointe has to score early or Chandler just might roll them like they have everyone else. Mountain Pointe will get theirs, but man Chandler is explosive.”

* “If it is close at halftime, Mountain Pointe’s staff might be the best at making adjustments. They are very good at correcting things and taking advantage of any mistakes you’ve made.”


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6A Championship Preview: A Heavy Weight Bout

You almost had the sense that this day would come back on week three of the high school football season. Mountain Pointe surprised the state with just how good they are with a 52-7 win over Chandler. It just feels right that these two powerhouse teams would meet again and give us what I think many expected the first time these two teams met.

Mountain Pointe has been the class of Arizona and rightfully so as they have one of the best defenses we’ve seen in quite some time in terms of talent, size and skill. Despite working through injuries on offense, they have enough athletes and the big hogs on the offensive line to continue to be a threat on offense.

Key Matchup: Chandler center Caleb Medina vs Mountain Pointe defensive tackle Matthew Pola-Mao.

This will be a big time battle in the trenches when you look at the offensive and defensive lines for both teams. One that I am very excited to see is big Chandler Caleb Medina up against the stud sophomore Matthew Pola-Mao on the interior of the defensive line. A huge part of the Chandler offense is their inside run from the spread formation handing the rock to T.J. Green and Ryan Johnson. I have been at games this season where Green has gone untouched at the point of attack because of how great a job the Chandler interior line does led by Medina. Mountain Pointe attempting to take away the run, especially between the tackles will be a big key.

If Mountain Pointe wins, it will be because… The own the ball and time of possession on offense. While Chandler’s defense is much improved since these two teams played last, the Pride owning the ball on offense will keep the game played at their pace. While their defense being on the field is anything but a liability, keeping Chandler’s offense off the field can only help your cause.

If Chandler wins, it will be because…They start fast. All I can say is wow from what I saw in person to what Chandler did to Brophy the second to last week of the regular season and then to Desert Vista in the second round of the playoffs. Two very good teams were smacked and didn’t know what hit them and the game was over before it felt like it had even started. 97-7 is what Chandler outscored Brophy and Desert Vista in tge FIRST HALF of those two games combined. They play much better with a lead and are very hard to keep up with after getting out to fast starts. They also have the tendency in games I’ve seen them lose over the last few years to force the issue and get away form their game when playing from behind.

Kickoff for the 6A state title between Mountain Pointe and Chandler will be at 7pm Saturday from University of Phoenix Stadium.

Mountain Pointe and Chandler face off in Saturday’s 6A conference title game.(Photo: azcentral sports)

Mountain Pointe, Chandler meet in 6A conference final

, azcentral sports3:53 p.m. MST November 24, 2016

Senior quarterback Noah Grover’s knee is a question mark, despite testing it out in last week’s 21-14 semifinal win over Mesa Red Mountain.

For the first time, Mountain Pointe is feeling the effects of losing running back Gary Bragg, whom coach Norris Vaughan hailed as the state’s best running back, before his season-ending knee injury in a 62-34 Sept. 23 win over Phoenix Pinnacle. Up to that point, Bragg had run for 891 yards and 11 touchdowns, including 180 and three TDs against Chandler.

Vaughan spent the past two playoff games searching for offense. Mountain Pointe needed four defensive touchdowns to escape Mesa Desert Ridge 47-21.

Last week, Grover struggled in his first game back from a broken femur bone suffered six weeks ago, misfiring on a few passes that could have gone for touchdowns in the close win over Red Mountain.

But the defense also didn’t play its best against Red Mountain, dropping a sure pick-six in the final quarter.

Vaughan is hoping his team got its bad game out of the way to be at its best against a Chandler team that hasn’t been stopped in the past nine weeks, compiling 509 points (57 points a game) with sophomore quarterback Jacob Conover coming of age and running back T.J. Green playing huge in big games.

“I don’t know what happened the last time, but we played really well on both sides,” Vaughan said. “We made plays. Our quarterback was healthy.

“The last time we made some stops and we scored.”

And scored and scored and scored. There was actually a running clock in the second half in that rout.

Chandler coach Shaun Aguano feels much better this time. He was missing three defensive backs, including his best one, Imani Lee, in that Mountain Pointe game. He was without arguably his second-biggest big-play guy, running back/receiver Ryan Johnson, who was nursing an injury. And Chandler was playing its third game in 13 days, while Mountain Pointe was coming out of an off week.

Aguano didn’t show his team the Sept. 8 Mountain Pointe film.

“Our team is a different team,” Aguano said. “But is it on the minds of our kids? Yes, it’s on their minds.”

These are arguably the two fastest football teams in the state.

Mountain Pointe’s speed won’t surprise Chandler. But its physical play is different than any other team it has faced.

With big safety Isaiah Pola-Mao coming in hard to make tackles and break up passes, the 6-foot-4, 210-pound senior is an imposing force.

Conover had that deer-in-the-headlights moment, passing for just 42 yards and having two of his 17 passes intercepted.

Conover has bounced back exceptionally well. He has passed for 3,264 yards and 27 touchdowns and has thrown only one interception since that loss.

The offensive line has jelled, opening holes for a run game that has 3,449 yards and 51 TDs, 1,853 yards and 30 TDs by Green.

“We need to match up with them physically,” Aguano said. “Norris always has them ready to go. It’s going to be a good game.

“We just need to make sure we stay focused the whole game.”

Chandler (11-2) vs. Mountain Pointe (13-0)

What: 6A football championship.

When: Saturday at 7 p.m..

Where: University of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale.

How to watch: online at live. Radio at 88.7 FM the Pulse. Tape delayed on FOX Sports Arizona on Monday at 3 p.m. (4A), 6 p.m. (5A) and 9 p.m. (6A)

Analysis: The fewest points Chandler has scored in a game since being held to just a garbage-time TD in the Mountain Pointe loss are 44. Mountain Pointe is ranked No. 10 nationally by USA TODAY. Neither Chandler nor Scottsdale Saguaro are part of USA TODAY’s Super 25. But they are being considered for the ESPNU Dec. 23 GEICO State Champions Bowl Series in Texas if Mountain Pointe loses. Mountain Pointe doesn’t want to lose that prize. But it will be facing a totally different team this time around.

Obert’s prediction: Chandler 35, Mountain Pointe 21.

To suggest human-interest story ideas and other news, reach Obert or 602-316-8827. Follow him at

Mountain Pointe freshman Matthew Pola-Mao (75) and his brother, junior Isaiah Pola-Mao (9), are part of young core of players getting plenty of playing time that will make the Pride stronger in the years to follow.  Billy Hardiman/Special to Tribune]


State championship: ‘Rivals’ Rivas and Pola-Mao better each other

Posted: Wednesday, November 23, 2016 5:05 pm

Eddie Rivas and Matty Palo-Mao have similar body types.

The same competitive drive as well.

So when the 6-foot-3, 280-pound Rivas, an offensive lineman, and 6-2, 300-pound Pola-Mao, a defensive lineman, lock up in a Mountain Pointe practice it can be monumental.

“Matty is my little rival,” Rivas said with a laugh. “He’s my little brother in some ways. We’ve spent a lot of time getting after it when he’s on scout team.”

The outcome varies on the day, but it is clear they make each other better.

“He gets me sometimes. He’s younger than me, but I’m not going to say I don’t beat him a lot.”

Pola-Mao, who is getting attention from Pac-12 schools, knows when he is done with his one-on-ones with Rivas Friday nights are a little easier.

“He’s the best and anyone I see isn’t as good,” Pola-Mao said. “We are about the same size, but I’m probably stronger. We make each other better.”

Rivas, who is committed to Northern Arizona, believes it is that kind of daily work that allowed the Pride become of the top rushing teams in the state and on the precipice of a second state title since 2013.

“We work hard all the time just to get to this game,” Rivas said. “It starts in practice. We know Chandler is good, and big up front. They are probably the best matchup against us size wise, but no one is better than guys we face all week.”

* Contact writer: (480) 898-7915 or Follow him on Twitter @JasonPSkoda


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State championship: With rust gone Grover ready to return to form

Posted: Tuesday, November 22, 2016 11:35 pm | Updated: 12:03 pm, Wed Nov 23, 2016.

Noah Grover couldn’t be who he wanted be for six weeks.

And then once he returned to being quarterback of Mountain Pointe he wasn’t himself.

The Pride senior made a surprising return from a broken femur after healing quicker than expected to start the state semifinals against Red Mountain.

Then he went out played out of character.

Grover missed open receivers, was indecisive and let the circumstances get to him.

“I was a little rusty,” Grover said. “It was the big game jitters. I got in there and the crowd was super loud and it got to me. I hadn’t been on the field in a long time.

“I started getting comfortable just before halftime. Then (Red Mountain) scored (to tie it at 14) and it put more pressure on us.”

The Pride (13-0) managed to get through it with a 21-14 win with the belief that Grover, who was the steady and consistent leader the offense needed before the injury, will return to his usual self with another week of practice leading up to Saturday’s 6A Conference state title game against Chandler (11-2).

“Clearly, he wasn’t himself,” Pride coach Norris Vaughan said. “He had a full week of practice, but he played differently than he had all year. We knew we wanted to get him in a game before that state championship if we made it that far.

“We think he will be better but that remains to be seen. I know he can do it because he played exactly the way we needed him to do for the first six games.”

Grover was 3 of 8 for 42 yards against Red Mountain so the opportunities weren’t there, but it was clear he was shaky compared to the resume he put together in the first seven starts of his career when he completed 66 percent of his passes, hit receivers in stride and with touch that led to 13 touchdowns and three interceptions in 96 attempts, and averaging 18 yards per completion.

“I know playing in a game and having this week to practice is going to make a difference after getting some of that rust off,” Grover said. “We put in work all season for this. We are going to come and be ready to play Saturday.

“I am ready.”

* Contact writer: (480) 898-7915 or Follow him on Twitter @JasonPSkoda


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Mountain Pointe’s Isaiah Pola-Mao attempts a diving catch agaisnt Pinnacle.  Photo by Kristin Grover, Special to Tribune

MP’s Pola-Mao named Central Region MVP

Posted: Monday, November 21, 2016 12:25 pm  |   By Jason P. Skoda, Prep Sports Director

The 6A Central Region selected its all region team.

Mountain Pointe’s Isaiah Pola-Mao was named MVP for this play at wide receiver and safety.

Desert Vista quarterback Nick Thomas was named Offensive MVP and Desert Vista linebacker Lelon Dillard was named Defensive MVP.

Here is a look at the full team:

6A Conference All-Central Region

MVP: Isaiah Pola-Mao, Mountain Pointe

Offensive MVP: Nick Thomas, Desert Vista

Defensive MVP: Lelon Dillard, Desert Vista



First team

Rashie Hodge Mt. Pointe

Cameron Brice Corona Del Sol

Tyrese Allen Desert Ridge

Second team

Delano Salgado Mountain Pointe

Kohner Cullimore Highland

Gary Bragg Mountain Pointe


First team

Jack Plummer Gilbert

Offensive Line

First team

Eddie Rivas Mountain Pointe

Myles Wilson Desert Vista

Rudy Rauls Mountain Pointe

Uriah Medder Corona Del Sol

Mason Honne Mountain Pointe

Second team

Mckenzie Potterf Desert Vista

Dallin Clement Highland

Matt Fick Corona Del Sol

Nick Omitt Desert Ridge

Ian Baxter Desert Ridge


First team

Keishaud White Desert Vista

David Morales Gilbert

Jake White Desert Vista

Second team

Jared Zimmerman Highland

Dawson Tanner Gilbert

Ricky Pearsall Corona Del Sol


First team

James Stagg Desert Vista

Second team

Garrison Turcotte Gilbert



First team

Antwaun Woodberry Mountain Pointe

Kenny Churchwell Mountain Pointe

Steven Gomez Desert Ridge

Donjae Logan Desert Ridge

Second team

Alijah Gammage Desert Vista

Corvan Otanez Gilbert

Caleb Humphrey Desert Vista

Brad Beaver Desert Ridge

Interior Line

First team

Ashton Dana Highland

Dylan Conner Corona Del Sol

Matthew Pola-Mao Mountain Pointe

Shomari Hayes Mountain Pointe

Second team

Christian Medeiros Desert Ridge

Noah Evan Highland

Garrett Fulton Gilbert

Brett Johnson Desert Vista


First team

Jalen Harris Desert Ridge

Khalif Ravenell Mountain Pointe

Second team

Trey Bussler Corona Del Sol

Dylan Bryan Gilbert


First team

Christian Allen Desert Ridge

Chad Porter Desert Vista

Jacob Clemens Corona Del Sol

Second team

Xaiver Cota Mountain Pointe

Michael Washington Mountain Pointe

Tate Stevens Highland


First team

Riley Erickson Desert Vista

Second team

Tony Decozio Desert Ridge


First team

Kaden Riforgiate Corona Del So

Second team

Austin Mcnamara Highland


First team

Jaydon Brooks Mountain Pointe

Second team

Connor McKernan Gilbert

Long Snapper

First team

Adam Bay Desert Ridge

Second team

Conor Egan Desert Vista

Honorable Mentions

Desert Vista

Tristin Flores, OL

Joe Money, TE

Larry Davis, LB

Nick Lopez, OL

Jared Ostendorp, OL


Sean McCord DB

Braiden Williams DL

Jake Ohara

Hunter Short DB

Jacob Wood LB

Jalen Johnson DB

Tyler Johnson DL

David Fabok DL

Noah Newburgh DB

Danial Castillo WR

Tyler Johnson WR

Jacob Wood RB

Brydon Horne RB

Connor Williams OL

Davis Brown OL

Cody Bartz OL

Jake Kersting QB

Riley Bond OL

Mountain Pointe

Noah Grover Qb

Sky Hinojosa WR

Justice Hudson OL

Alex Vogel OL

Marshawn Gibson DB

Donte Lindsey DB

Jacob Olsen LB

Daniel Pena DT

Dakota Fey P


Garrison Turcotte LB

Tyler Turcotte OL

Garrett Fulton OL

DJ Ruhl DB

Corona Del Sol

Griffin Baker TE

Alex Purcell C

Kaden Riforgiate LB

Jason Staples DE

Brian McCluskey DB

Kobee Marion DB

Desert Ridge

Kylar Day

Khris Broom

Tyler Mcleve

Jason Harris

Connor Goetz

Robert Mancha

Defense/Special Teams/Misc.

* Mt. Pointe safety Isaiah Pola-Mao returned 2 INTs for TDs versus Desert Ridge.

* Mt. Pointe’s defense scored 28 points on 4 turnovers versus Desert Ridge.

See full article here:

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Player of the Week

* In Perry’s overtime win versus Hamilton, junior QB Brock Purdy threw for 330 yards and 6 TDs, rushed for 132 yards and 1 score and caught a TD pass.

Team of the Week

* #13 seed Red Mountain upset Brophy to move on to the semi-finals.


* American Leadership’s Dallin Edwards threw for 175 yards and 2 TDs and ran for 142 yards and 1 TD against Florence.

* Hamilton’s Tyler Shough threw for 268 yards and 5 TDs against Perry.

* Chandler’s Jacob Conover threw 3 TDs and ran for another against Desert Vista.

* Alex Bell from Sabino threw for 329 yards and 3 TDs against Winslow.

* Cienega’s Jamarye Joiner had 274 yards passing, 83 yards rushing and 2 total TDs versus Mesquite.

* Rhett Rodriguez threw for 298 yards and 1 TD and added 63 yards and 4 scores on the ground against Sunrise Mountain.

* Sunrise Mountain senior Chase Cord threw 4 TDs against Catalina Foothills.

* Bagdad’s Israel Loveall threw 5 TDs in the 1A title game against Williams.

* Saguaro Max Massingale accounted for 5 TDs against Peoria.

Running Backs

* Red Mountain junior Lance Lawson had 210 yards and 5 TDs versus Brophy.

* Perry’s Kenny Fultz rushed for 181 yards and 1 TD against Hamilton.

* Hamilton junior Jawhar Jordan ran for 208 yards and 2 TDs against Perry.

* Mario Padilla from Salpointe ran for 212 yards and 2 TDs against Marcos.

* Jace Koester from Queen CReek had 200 yards and 3 TDs against Ironwood Ridge.

* Centennial junior Zidane Thomas ran for 3 scores against Desert Edge.


* Hamilton’s Chance Brewington caught 6 passes or 125 yars and 2 scores against Perry.

* Chris Crescione from Higley had 105 yards and 2 TDs against Cactus.

* Drew Dixon from Sabino had 2 TD receptions and had an INT on defense versus Winslow.

Defense/Special Teams/Misc.

* Mt. Pointe safety Isaiah Pola-Mao returned 2 INTs for TDs versus Desert Ridge.

* Mt. Pointe’s defense scored 28 points on 4 turnovers versus Desert Ridge.

* Brandon Ruiz from Williams Field kicked a school record, 58 yard FG against Marana.