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 ]

Pride seeks revenge in game against Chandler tonight - After intercepting his pass, MP’s Isaiah Palo-Mao tries to jump over... [ read more ]

Football Game Preview: Chandler vs. Mountain Pointe - Wednesday, September 6, 2017  |  By: Staff... [ read more ]

Kimberly Carrillo/AFN Photographer
“If we can stay healthy, we have a chance to get back to the state championship game, there’s no question,” Vaughn said.

Hut, hut! Pride, Thunder ready for the 2017 season

  • By Greg Macafee, AFN Sports Editor  

Ahwatukee always has at least one successful high school football team. But in 2017, the community will have two teams with the talent to make a run for a state championship.

Last year ended the same way for both Desert Vista and Mountain Pointe high schools – with losses to Chandler High in the Class 6A State Tournament. Desert Vista was knocked out in the quarterfinals, while Mountain Pointe made a run to the state championship game.

The Pride finished the season ranked No. 1 in Class 6A and had beaten Chandler High earlier in the fall by 45 points.

On its run to the championship and throughout the season, however, the Pride suffered numerous injuries. In its semifinal victory over Red Mountain High the team lost at least four starters.

This season, the Pride will return with another strong defense featuring defensive backs Kenny Churchwell and Delano Salgado, who combined for 93 tackles and six interceptions.

But injuries already have impacted the 2017 Pride.

The defensive line will be missing Matthew Pola-Mao, who will miss the season due to injury, head coach Norris Vaughn said.

Nevertheless, Vaughn said he likes his team’s chances if his players can avoid more major injuries.

“If we can stay healthy, we have a chance to get back to the state championship game, there’s no question,” Vaughn said.

Desert Vista is also feeling confident about its chances on the gridiron.

“I feel like teams are going to have to try and win by their defense,” leading tackler Larry Davis said. “They gotta win by not letting our offense score because I don’t think a lot of people are going to score. Our defense is pretty stacked.”

For Mountain Pointe, look for Jacob Olsen and Shomari Hayes to fill the void left by the 6-foot-2, 308-pound Pola-mao.

Olsen led the team in sacks in 2016 with six and made 87 tackles as well. Hayes was another big piece of the Prides hard-hitting defense last season, racking up 74 tackles, 11.5 of them being for a loss.

The Pride will have a stout defense in 2017, but they will also have another solid offense.

Tailback Gary Bragg returns from an ACL injury that ended his junior season after rushing for 891 yards and 11 touchdowns in five games. They will also return quarterback Nick Wallerstedt, who filled in for injured Noah Grover last season, throwing for 558 yards and four touchdowns.

Salgado will also have a significant role in the offense for the Pride. The senior tailback rushed for 730 yards and six touchdowns last season.

After a 7-5 season, the Desert Vista Thunder are looking to return strong in 2017 with a potent offense and an even stronger defense.

They finished their run in 2016 with a devastating 62-7 loss against eventual state champion Chandler High in the quarterfinals, after finishing the regular season ranked 10th in Class 6A.

Although Desert Vista graduated starting QB Nick Thomas and leading rusher Lelon Dillard, the Thunder still have several returning players who will have a larger role in 2017.

With Nevada transplant quarterback Derek Kline under center, the Thunder will boast an offense with plenty of weapons, both in the backfield and on the outside.

James Stagg and Keishaud White both return to the offense after combining for nine touchdowns and 750-plus receiving yards last season.

Defensively, head coach Daniel Hinds said, the Thunder is returning its entire secondary as well as Davis, who made 93 tackles last season and racked up 6.5 sacks as well.

Caleb Humphrey and Stagg also return to a defense that could be dangerous throughout the season.

Of course, a highlight of the season will come Sept. 28, when Desert Vista hosts its crosstown rival in the Tukee Bowl.

Last year’s Tukee Bowl saw seniors on both sides scoring all 43 points of a 27-16 Mountain Pointe win.

Rashie Hodge Jr. and Antwaun Woodberry combined for three touchdowns on the ground while Noah Grover found Isaiah Pola-mao through the air for the only passing touchdown of the game.

For Desert Vista, Lelon Dillard found the end zone on the ground and senior kicker Riley Erickson put two field goals and an extra point through the uprights.

Both Ahwatukee teams always provide exciting matchups for the bowl game.


“Everything about it, you have this community two schools in it, the kids know each other,” Hinds said. “It’s just fun to be a part of.”

 

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

Offense

RB

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

QB

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

WR

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

TE

First team

James Stagg Desert Vista

Second team

Garrison Turcotte Gilbert

Defense

Secondary

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

End

First team

Jalen Harris Desert Ridge

Khalif Ravenell Mountain Pointe

Second team

Trey Bussler Corona Del Sol

Dylan Bryan Gilbert

Linebacker

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

Kicker

First team

Riley Erickson Desert Vista

Second team

Tony Decozio Desert Ridge

Punter

First team

Kaden Riforgiate Corona Del So

Second team

Austin Mcnamara Highland

Returner

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

Highland

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

Gilbert

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

Mountain Pointe’s Isaiah Palo-Mao talks after win over Desert Ridge

No. 9 Mountain Pointe (Phoenix) rolls over Desert Ridge (Mesa) behind four defensive TDs

By

Handing an undefeated team its first loss is tough enough, but beating them when their defense scores four touchdowns? That’s pretty much impossible.

That’s what Desert Ridge (Mesa, Ariz.) found out Thursday against No. 9 Mountain Pointe (Phoenix) in their 6A Conference playoff quarterfinal matchup. Mountain Pointe rang up three interception returns for touchdowns to go with a fumble return for a score in the midst of playing generally lock-down defense, all of which led to a 47-21 win in Phoenix.

“Since I’ve been coaching, I’ve never seen four turnovers for touchdowns,” Desert Ridge coach Jeremy Hathcock said. “I had yet to see that happen.”

Mountain Pointe’s defensive effort was most pronounced in the first half, when Mountain Pointe built a 27-6 lead going into the locker room. Isaiah Pola-Mao led the way when he scored two second-quarter touchdowns on pick-six plays on consecutive Desert Ridge drives.

“I saw the opportunity to (get those interceptions) and I just took a hold of it,” Pola-Mao said.

Pola-Mao’s scores blew open what was a close game through the first quarter and a half. With Mountain Pointe holding a 14-3 lead, Pola-Mao gathered in a Desert Ridge pass that ricocheted off the intended receiver’s shoulder pad and returned the ball 20 yards for a touchdown.

Five plays later, as Desert Ridge tried to convert a fourth down near midfield, Pola-Mao stepped in front of a slant pass and went 56 yards the other way for another score and a 27-3 Mountain Pointe edge.

Desert Ridge would get no closer than 19 points the rest of the way.

“We had something to prove coming out. Everybody’s been saying they could play with us, and we took that to heart,” Pola-Mao said. “We came out and proved a point.”

Pola-Mao’s two scores were bookended by two other Mountain Pointe defensive touchdowns. Khalif Ravenell set the tone for Mountain Pointe’s defensive effort in the first quarter when he stripped the ball from a Desert Ridge running back and returned the fumble 19 yards the other way for the game’s opening points. Antwaun Woodberry capped the scoring in the fourth quarter when he snared an interception near the Desert Ridge sideline and raced back the other way for a touchdown.

Desert Ridge (8-4) battled throughout, and managed to cut the Mountain Pointe lead to 40-21 late in the game after freshman quarterback Matthew Purnell hit Michael Winner in the corner of the end zone for a touchdown.

Desert Ridge then recovered an onside kick, but Mountain Pointe’s defense again clamped down and forced a Purnell incompletion on fourth down to end the threat.

Mountain Pointe, which improved to 12-0, advances to the 6A semifinals against No. 13-seeded Mesa Red Mountain at Tempe McClintock.

“We did our job here. Now, it’s on to the next week,” Pola-Mao said.

GameNight: Palo-Mao sets record, Pride move on to semifinals

Posted: Friday, November 11, 2016 12:04 am | Updated: 12:37 am, Fri Nov 11, 2016.

Up the road at Sun Devil Stadium, the college team that normally wears maroon and gold chose to dress in black Thursday, a reminder of a season killed, in large part, by injuries at key positions.

Down in Ahwatukee, the high school team that normally wears maroon and gold opted for black, as well.

And Mountain Pointe, like the Arizona State program it models its uniforms after, has been beset by a spate of injuries in 2016 that once threatened to derail the Pride’s potential.

But the way Mountain Pointe has continued to stomp on opponents, regardless of who it’s missing, the mood inside Karl Kiefer Stadium this year has been anything but funereal.

Despite playing without its starting quarterback and leading rusher for the fifth consecutive game, top-seeded Mountain Pointe cruised on its way to staying undefeated, beating No. 8 Desert Ridge 47-21 at home Thursday in the 6A quarterfinals.

Safety Isaiah Pola-Mao had three interceptions on the evening, returning two of them for touchdowns for Mountain Pointe, which advances to the state semifinals for the seventh time in the last eight seasons. The Pride will face No. 13 Red Mountain next Friday at McClintock High.

Mountain Pointe plans to wear its black jerseys throughout its postseason run, Pola-Mao said, in the hope of catching the magic of the 2013 Pride team that went 14-0 on its way to a state championship.

“We remember 2013, when they wore black every playoff game,” Pola-Mao said. “We were like, ‘They made a statement, they got it done. Let’s do the same thing.’”

Pola-Mao nearly single-handedly got it done Thursday for Mountain Pointe. The 6-foot-4 senior picked off Desert Ridge passes on consecutive possessions in the second quarter, taking each back for touchdowns to stake Mountain Pointe to a 27-3 lead.

The interceptions were Pola-Mao’s first since Oct. 7, with his second pick breaking former teammate Jalen Brown’s school record of 16 in a career.

“It had been on my mind every game,” Pola-Mao said.

Pola-Mao added a third interception in the fourth quarter, and fellow defensive back Antwaun Woodberry also recorded a pick-six Thursday, marking Mountain Pointe’s final score of the game.

Pride coach Norris Vaughan said injured quarterback Noah Grover, who is nearing a return after breaking his leg Oct. 7, could be ready next week to retake the starting job from sophomore Nick Wallerstedt, who had an 88-yard touchdown run Thursday.

But Mountain Pointe (12-0) has hardly missed a beat in Grover’s absence, just as it kept churning after losing running back Gary Bragg for the season to a knee injury in September.

“We don’t care (about the injuries),” Vaughan said. “All we care about is to win the tournament, survive and advance. That’s the only thing that matters, no matter how you do it.”

On the other side, Desert Ridge (8-4) is eliminated in the quarterfinals a season after reaching the Division I state championship game in 2015.

“It’s hard because I have four three-year starters as seniors, so to lose them is super tough,” Desert Ridge coach Jeremy Hathcock said. “…We’re not a passing team. When you get out of your element against a team like (Mountain Pointe), it’s tough.

“But there’s not a lot to be ashamed of. We’re a good football team that just didn’t get it at the end. It was a hard year for us all around but the kids gave us a lot of effort, and that’s all you can ask for.”

* Killian is a Tempe-based freelancer.

Box score

Mountain Pointe 47, Desert Ridge 21

DR 3  3  8  7 – 21

MP 7 20 6 14 – 47

Scoring

First

MP – Ravenell 17 fumble return (Abercrombie kick), 7:51

DR – Decozio 27 FG, 0:32

Second

MP – Hodge 1 run (Abercrombie kick), 10:41

MP – Pola-Mao 20 INT return (kick failed), 5:57

MP – Pola-Mao 56 INT return (Abercrombie kick), 4:16

DR – Decozio 24 FG, 0:01

Third

MP – Abercrombie 25 FG, 7:43

DR – Logan 54 run (Run good), 7:02

MP – Abercrombie 24 FG, 3:43

Fourth

MP – Wallerstedt 88 run (Abercrombie kick), 7:32

DR – Winner 9 pass from Purnell (Decozio kick), 3:58

MP – Woodberry 42 INT return (Abercrombie kick), 1:27

Team stats

                               DR                  MP

First downs            14                    6

Rush-yards         31-125           32-270     

Comp-Att-Int      15-40-4            3-4-0

Pass yards            173                 19

Total yards            298                289

Fumbles/lost         1-1                  0-0

Penalties              6-65               9-74

Individual stats

Rushing

DR – Logan 16-99, Wright 6-17, Brown 4-6, Schmidt 2-11, Fowler 2-(-13), Elliott 1-5. MP – Hodge 16-135, Wallerstedt 8-109, Salgado 6-19, Brooks 2-7.

Passing

DR – Fowler 7-21-0-60, Purnell 8-19-1-113. MP – Wallerstedt 3-4-0-19.

Receiving

DR – Logan 5-38, Harris 3-35, Wright 2-37, Winner 2-30, Simonis 1-16, Broom 1-11, Brown 1-4. MP – Brooks 2-14, Pola-Mao 1-5.

 
 

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Package deal: Pride junior cornerbacks make rotation work

Posted: Wednesday, October 26, 2016 11:02 pm

There were some known commodities before the season for Mountain Pointe High.

They had a stud offensive lineman in Eddie Rivas, a defensive line that the coaches could count on to win most battles and a four-star safety in Isaiah Pola-Mao.

There were plenty of others back in the fold that placed the Pride in the state title contender list before the season started.

Now, nine weeks, in there are several players heavily counted on who were not as well known in August.

The Pride (9-0) look to lock up their fourth undefeated regular season since 2009 against Gilbert (1-8) on Friday.

Three of the lesser known athletes who helped the team get there play in the defensive backfield. They comprise one of the best units in the state.

The safeties—junior playmaker Kenny Churchwell and the leader of the group in Pola-Mao—and senior shutdown cornerback Antwaun Woodberry were all part of the known categories and rank among the best at their position.

The opposite corner spot has become a rotation of juniors Marshawn Gibson, Donte Lindsey and Delano Salgado.

“We are rotating them because they’ve all shown they deserve to play,” Pride defensive back coach Gio Melendez said. “All of these guys could start at just about every team in the state.”

Gibson has been getting the starts in recent weeks, while Salgado started early on. Lindsey has seen increased playing time since becoming eligible in the sixth game of the year after transferring.

If Lindsey had been eligible from the start, the other guys might have had lesser roles this year. But in his absence, both Gibson and Salgado (who also plays some running back) have played at a high level.

Gibson’s emergence came after being moved to cornerback from safety a few weeks before the season started.

Pola-Mao and Churchwell both have major college offers, so Gibson’s best chance to play came at cornerback. When Salgado missed the Mountain View game, Gibson was inserted into the starting lineup.

“It just proves you always have to be ready,” Gibson said. “I wasn’t even a cornerback, or in the rotation to start the year. I kind of didn’t want to do it at first just because I’ve always played safety. I started to get a feel for it and I have taken off.”

Salgado and Lindsey still get plenty of time, and there is even the “Cheetah” defensive package, when all six defensive backs are on the field at the same time.

“We’ve only used it a few times, but there isn’t a drop off no matter who we put out there,” Melendez said. “We know they are going to be in position to make the play.”

The defense as a whole affect the opponent’s passing game, but the defensive backs have to lock up the receivers to make sure the work of the defensive line and linebackers pays off.

The Pride’s opposition has passed for less than 100 yards in six of the nine games and the quarterbacks are only completing 46 percent (97 of 211 for 898 yards) and have thrown 11 interceptions.

“There is a lot that goes into it,” Pride coach Norris Vaughan said. “There is scheme, technique and the defensive pressure. We don’t blitz a lot, but when we do we know our back end is going to hold up. We can tell them what to do, but they still have to make the plays and they usually do.”

When Lindsey was sitting out the first five games, he played wide receiver on the scout team.

“The competition is crazy,” Lindsey said. “It’s tough to get separation. It makes all of us better.”

The unit has their own games within the game. They battle to see who gets the most tackles and interceptions. They are always competing, pushing themselves to be better and stymieing the team in front of them.

“We know how good we can be when are playing at high level,” said Churchwell, who won a scholarship from the University of Arizona this week. “The competitions keep us focused, and makes us stronger because we are always trying to outdo each other.”

 
 

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Package deal: Pride junior cornerbacks make rotation work

Posted: Wednesday, October 26, 2016 11:02 pm

There were some known commodities before the season for Mountain Pointe High.

They had a stud offensive lineman in Eddie Rivas, a defensive line that the coaches could count on to win most battles and a four-star safety in Isaiah Pola-Mao.

There were plenty of others back in the fold that placed the Pride in the state title contender list before the season started.

Now, nine weeks, in there are several players heavily counted on who were not as well known in August.

The Pride (9-0) look to lock up their fourth undefeated regular season since 2009 against Gilbert (1-8) on Friday.

Three of the lesser known athletes who helped the team get there play in the defensive backfield. They comprise one of the best units in the state.

The safeties—junior playmaker Kenny Churchwell and the leader of the group in Pola-Mao—and senior shutdown cornerback Antwaun Woodberry were all part of the known categories and rank among the best at their position.

The opposite corner spot has become a rotation of juniors Marshawn Gibson, Donte Lindsey and Delano Salgado.

“We are rotating them because they’ve all shown they deserve to play,” Pride defensive back coach Gio Melendez said. “All of these guys could start at just about every team in the state.”

Gibson has been getting the starts in recent weeks, while Salgado started early on. Lindsey has seen increased playing time since becoming eligible in the sixth game of the year after transferring.

If Lindsey had been eligible from the start, the other guys might have had lesser roles this year. But in his absence, both Gibson and Salgado (who also plays some running back) have played at a high level.

Gibson’s emergence came after being moved to cornerback from safety a few weeks before the season started.

Pola-Mao and Churchwell both have major college offers, so Gibson’s best chance to play came at cornerback. When Salgado missed the Mountain View game, Gibson was inserted into the starting lineup.

“It just proves you always have to be ready,” Gibson said. “I wasn’t even a cornerback, or in the rotation to start the year. I kind of didn’t want to do it at first just because I’ve always played safety. I started to get a feel for it and I have taken off.”

Salgado and Lindsey still get plenty of time, and there is even the “Cheetah” defensive package, when all six defensive backs are on the field at the same time.

“We’ve only used it a few times, but there isn’t a drop off no matter who we put out there,” Melendez said. “We know they are going to be in position to make the play.”

The defense as a whole affect the opponent’s passing game, but the defensive backs have to lock up the receivers to make sure the work of the defensive line and linebackers pays off.

The Pride’s opposition has passed for less than 100 yards in six of the nine games and the quarterbacks are only completing 46 percent (97 of 211 for 898 yards) and have thrown 11 interceptions.

“There is a lot that goes into it,” Pride coach Norris Vaughan said. “There is scheme, technique and the defensive pressure. We don’t blitz a lot, but when we do we know our back end is going to hold up. We can tell them what to do, but they still have to make the plays and they usually do.”

When Lindsey was sitting out the first five games, he played wide receiver on the scout team.

“The competition is crazy,” Lindsey said. “It’s tough to get separation. It makes all of us better.”

The unit has their own games within the game. They battle to see who gets the most tackles and interceptions. They are always competing, pushing themselves to be better and stymieing the team in front of them.

“We know how good we can be when are playing at high level,” said Churchwell, who won a scholarship from the University of Arizona this week. “The competitions keep us focused, and makes us stronger because we are always trying to outdo each other.”

 
 

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FOOTBALL: MTN. POINTE STAYS PERFECT WITH 27-13 WIN OVER DESERT RIDGE

 

It was Rashie Hodge’s night on Friday to carry a heavy load for top-ranked and unbeaten Mountain Pointe and the senior linebacker-running back was up to the challenge.

Hodge carried 23 times for 203 yards (unofficially) and scored all four of the Pride’s touchdowns in a 27-13 triumph over Desert Ridge in the 6A matchup of the week in the Valley.

Mountain Pointe (8-0 overall, 3-0 region) essentially wrapped up the Central Region title with the victory. It prevailled thanks to a dominating first period that saw the Pride outscore Desert Ridge 20-0 the first 12 minutes. Three of Hodge’s four TDs were tallied in the opening period. Mountain Pointe ran the ball exclusiively in the opening quarter and rushed for 152 yards on scoring drives of 56, 70 and 32 yards.

Mountain Pointe coach Norris Vaughan decided to distribute more carries to Hodge in the wake of losing leading rusher Gary Bragg a couple weeks ago. Until Friday night it was backfield by committee among Anthony Stephens, Hodge, Antwaun Woodberry and Delano Salgado. Hodge doubled the carries of the any of the others and posted a consistent effort across all four quarters.

The outcome figured to hinge on the better rushing attack and Mountain Pointe demonstrated its superiority most of the night and particulalrly the first half. The Pride outrushed Desert Ridge 205-42 in the first half. They also converted the only turnover of the opening half — a Kenny Churchwell interception — into a touchdown. The pick halted Desert Ridge’s march into Mountain Pointe territory and instead turned a 7-0 lead to a 13-0 advantage midway through the quarter.

Hodge’s TD’s were in the first period were on runs of 24-, 3-and 11 yards — the latter with 2:07 left in the period. Meanwhile Desert Ridge’s 1,000-yard rusher Tyrese Allen was bottled up to the tune of 23 yards on eight rushes the first half. Allen churned for bigger chunks iof yards in the second half. He finished with 87 yards in 23 attempts.

Desert Ridge trailed 20-3 at the half and pulled within 20-6 after Antonio Decozio’s second field goal (39 yards and 26 yards). But Mountain Pointe spoiled any chance of a comeback marching 68 yards to open the final period, capped by Hodge’s 4-yeard TD run. with 8:46 to play.

Desert Ridge scored its lone TD on a 14-yard pass from CJ Fowler to Jalen Harris with 34 seconds left  Before that drive Desert Ridge was 3-of-21 passing for 3 yards. Fowler, who played most of the second half at quarterback in relief of freshman Matt Purnell, completed  6-of-6 passes for 80 yards on the scoring drive.

 

Mountain Pointe’s Rashie Hodge Jr. (7) breaks a tackle attempt by Desert Ridge’s Bradley Beaver on his way to the end zone at Desert Ridge High School on October 14, 2016, in Mesa.(Photo: Patrick Breen/azcentral sports)

Rashie Hodge runs for 4 TDs as No. 1 Mountain Pointe stops No. 2 Desert Ridge

, azcentral sports10:52 p.m. MST October 14, 2016

They were ranked Nos. 1 and 2 coming in, but Phoenix Mountain Pointe let host Mesa Desert Ridge know right away that there is still a sizable gap after No. 1 in the 6A Conference.

With linebacker Rashie Hodge Jr., now turned loose on offense, Mountain Pointe scored quickly and decisively on its first three possessions and cruised to a 27-13 victory on Fridaynight.

Mountain Pointe (8-0) is the only team still undefeated in the biggest conference. And, even with season-ending injuries to quarterback Noah Grover and running back Gary Bragg, it isn’t skipping a beat.

Hodge ran for 212 yards and all four touchdowns on 24 carries. His second touchdown was set up by a 25-yard run by sophomore quarterback Nick Wallerstedt, making his first varsity start.

Coach Norris Vaughan kept the game plan pretty simple for the young quarterback: Just pound the ball.

“The offense came out ready to play,” Hodge said. “They were ready for a battle.”

No. 2 Desert Ridge (6-2) gave much better resistance after getting down 20-0, and got some help at times with Mountain Pointe penalties.

But even when Desert Ridge finally was able to punch through the middle of Mountain Pointe’s big, quick, nasty line, it ended up settling for a field goal.

Starting from its 11, and with senior C.J. Fowler replacing freshman Matthew Purnell (concussion on the second-to-last play of the half) to start the second half, Fowler, working under center, handed the ball off to junior tailback Tyrese Allen eight consecutive plays. Allen grounded out 53 tough yards. Desert Ridge was helped by successive 15-yard penalties.

But once it got to the 5, Fowler was sacked for a 5-yard loss.

Cornerback Antwaun Woodberry, assigned to 6-foot-5 wide receiver Jalen Harris, didn’t let the big guy get free off the line. Fowler wasn’t able to complete two straight passes intended for Harris.

A dejected offense had to settle for Antonio DeCozio’s second field goal to cut it to 20-6 with 17 seconds left in the third quarter.

“We played four games where we didn’t really see much competition, and we saw these guys,” Desert Ridge coach Jeremy Hathcock said. “You want to talk about going from the swimming pool to the ocean. It took us awhile to wake up a little bit. It was my fault for trying to spread it out and run on them. But they’re good.

“We’re physical when we want to be. We actually found out we can play with these guys in the second half.”

Desert Ridge’s only points in the first half – a 38-yard field goal – was set up by a short punt that gave it a short field. The offense did little, and the freshman QB wasn’t helped by three dropped passes.

Desert Ridge finally went to power run.

Desert Ridge’s only touchdown came on Fowler’s 14-yard pass to Harris with 30 seconds left and the game already decided.

“It was a tough, physical game,” Vaughan said. “Our young quarterback did well. Rashie Hodge was amazing tonight. Our coaches did a good job of game planning. Our defense is playing great football.”

To suggest human-interest story ideas and other news, reach Obert atrichard.obert@arizonarepublic.com or 602-316-8827. Follow him at twitter.com/azc_obert. Listen to Richard Obert with Dan Manucci on the Which Wich Arizona High School Football Preview Show on Friday night 6-7 on NBC Sports Radio AM 1060.

Mountain Pointe quarterback Noah Grover looks to pass against Highland on Friday, Oct. 7, 2016. [Varsity News]

No. 1 Mountain Pointe loses QB Noah Grover to broken leg

, azcentral sports12:36 p.m. MST October 9, 2016

In a matter of three weeks, top-ranked Phoenix Mountain Pointe went from looking like a legitimate top 10 football team in the nation to one that now appears vulnerable in Arizona after losing its top running back and quarterback to injuries.

Senior quarterback Noah Grover suffered a broken femur on what coach Norris Vaughan called a late hit in the second quarter on Friday night against Gilbert Highland.

Grover said he will find out Monday from his doctor what his rehabilitation period will be, but he is likely out for the rest of the season.

Mountain Pointe (7-0) travels to play second-ranked Mesa Desert Ridge (6-1) on Friday in a big 6A Conference game.

RELATED: Mountain Pointe gets tested, shuts out Highland

Running back Gary Bragg is lost for the season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament suffered in a 62-34 win against Phoenix Pinnacle on Sept. 23, when he ran for 204 yards on 20 carries. Bragg rushed for 891 yards and 11 touchdowns in five games, averaging 9.3 yards a carry.

Entering last week, Grover, who was starting his first varsity season, passed for 1,058 yards and 13 TDs with three interceptions, completing 66 percent of his passes.

Mountain Pointe (7-0), coming off a 48-0 win over Highland, is ranked No. 11 nationally by USA TODAY.

“We’d like to win it all and keep our national ranking, but that’s certainly in jeopardy,” coach Norris Vaughan said. “We’ve got to play to win. That’s all we’ve got to do.”

MORE: Complete high school football coverage

Vaughan has had to shuffle players and use guys both ways more. Anthony Stephens, Rashie Hodge Jr., and Antwaun Woodberry have been running the ball by committee in Bragg’s absence.

Sophomore quarterback Nick Wallerstedt, 6-foot-3, 172 pounds, a transfer from Tempe Corona del Sol, who was ineligible the first half of the season because of the AIA transfer rule, played one junior varsity game, before being thrust into his first varsity action against Highland. Vaughan felt he performed well for his first game.

“I think Wallerstedt is a Division I prospect,” Vaughan said. “By the playoffs, he should be good.”

To suggest human-interest story ideas and other news, reach Obert at richard.obert@arizonarepublic.com or 602-460-1710. Follow him at twitter.com/azc_obert.Listen to Richard Obert with Dan Manucci on the Which Wich Arizona High School Football Preview Show on Friday night 6-7 on NBC Sports Radio AM 1060.

GameNight: Pride thumps Highland

Posted: Friday, October 7, 2016 11:40 pm | Updated: 11:26 am, Sat Oct 8, 2016.

The Mountain Pointe Pride took home a 48-0 shutout win over the Highland Hawks Friday night in Gilbert.

What ended up being a high scoring game for the Pride, started with a scoreless first quarter. Senior running back Antwaun Woodberry ended the scoring drought with a 25-yard touchdown run early in the second that jumpstarted the team.

“We had a big game last week in Desert Vista so we came out a little bit flat, like I thought we would,” Mountain Pointe head coach Norris Vaughan said.

With less than five minutes left in the half, senior running back Rashie Hodge Jr. took the ball 23 yards for the score to extend the lead to 14-0 following a Ben Abercrombie kick.

While the Pride enjoyed a nice lead before half, senior quarterback Noah Grover took a late hit and went down with a leg injury. He would leave the game and not return. Before going down, he went 7-11 for 83 yards. Sophomore Nick Wallerstedt took over signal-calling duties.

Woodberry found the end zone once again, this time from 34 yards with less than 30 seconds to play before halftime.

“We made a good drive at the end to score, which was big, with our backup quarterback,” Vaughan said. “Our backup quarterback came in and played really well, he’s going to be an outstanding quarterback.”

Mountain Pointe’s defense was red hot in the first half, only allowing 57 yards through the air and held the Hawks’ rushing attack to negative two yards.

The Pride opened up the second half much like they ended the first with another Hodge Jr. touchdown run from 3-yards out. He finished the night rushing for over 100 yards and added three touchdowns.

Juniors Je’on Moss and Delano Salgado would cap off the night with two more rushing scores to give the Pride a 48-0 win over the Hawks.

“They executed really well in the second half,” Vaughan said. “The first half we did not execute at all like we should, but really the last three quarters we played really well.”

And while the offense was rolling, the defense deserved a ton of credit. It held the Hawks to five yards on the ground and under 100 yards in the passing game. Senior defensive back Isaiah Pola-mao also added an interception.

Mountain Pointe moves to 7-0, while Highland drops to 2-5. The Pride will look to remain unbeaten when it travels to Desert Ridge and Highland will look to bounce back at Desert Vista next week.

Box Score

Mountain Pointe 48, Highland 0

MP   0 21 14 13-48

HHS 0   0   0   0-0

First

Second

MP – Woodberry 25 run (Abercrombie kick), 8:19

MP – Hodge Jr. 23 run (Abercrombie kick), 4:43

MP – Woodberry 30 run (Abercrombie kick), 00:29

Third

MP – Hodge Jr. 3 run (Abercrombie kick), 6:21

MP – Hodge 25 run (Abercrombie kick), 1:10

Fourth

MP – Moss 1 run (Abercrombie kick), 8:38

MP – Salgado 34 run (2-pt. conv. No Good), 00:24

Team Stats

MP

Rush-Yards-TD: 49-382-7

Att-Comp: 10-15

Pass Yards: 121

Total Yards: 503

HHS

Rush-Yards: 15-5

Att-Comp-Int: 11-25-1

Pass Yards: 95

Total yards: 100

Individual Stats

Passing

MP – Grover 7-11-83, Wallerstedt 3-4-38

HHS – Kersting 11-25-1-95

Rushing

MP – Stephens 16-78, Woodbury 6-78, 2 TDs, Hodge Jr. 11-114, 3 TDs, Moss 3-15, TD, Brooks 3-6, Grover 1-3, Wallerstedt 3-33

HHS – Cullimore 3-4, Fumble, Wood 5- (-3), Brandt 5-0

Receiving

MP – Pola-mao 3-13, Brooks 4-80, Hinojosa 2-21, Churchwell 1-6

HHS – Zimmerman 4-44, Lunt 1-3, Brandt 2-22, Cullimore 2-15, Castillo 2-11

 
 

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