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Breaking down 6A football state quarterfinals with predictions

, Arizona RepublicPublished 5:21 p.m. MT Nov. 5, 2018 | Updated 5:13 p.m. MT Nov. 7, 2018

Here we go. It’s getting closer to the truth. Who will survive to hold up the gold ball at Sun Devil Stadium on Dec. 1?

Let’s break down the 6A state football quarterfinals with a prediction on each game.

On Tuesday, we’ll look at 5A, Wednesday will be 4A and Thursday is 3A, 2A and 1A.

6A quarterfinals

No. 8 Phoenix Mountain Pointe (7-4) at No. 1 Chandler (10-1), Friday, 7 p.m.

This might be the only team on Chandler’s side of the bracket that really has a shot at slowing down the Wolves. But Pride coach Rich Wellbrock will see first-hand why it has been so difficult for anybody in Arizona to contain the Wolves. It starts with third-year varsity starting quarterback Jacob Conover. It ends with a solid defensive front and linebacking corps. If QB Nick Wallerstedt can crack through Chandler’s secondary, the Pride has a chance. RB Jakim McKinney will be needed at full strength. And the receivers are going to have to get open. Wallerstedt’s speed turning up field will have to be something the Wolves watch out for. He’s fast and tough. Chandler’s secondary will be challenged. But who is going to slow down Chandler’s game breakers on offense?

Prediction: Chandler 42, Mountain Pointe 31

Washington: “It was just a good team victory.” Eric Norwood, Special to azcsports

No. 5 Gilbert Highland (10-1) at No. 4 Peoria Liberty (10-1), Friday, 7 p.m.

Highland’s only loss was to Mountain Pointe. Liberty’s only loss was to Pinnacle, a one-point heart-breaker. These are two of the better defensive teams in 6A. Liberty’s defense is led by DL Braxten Croteau and LB Ryan Puskas, both Cal commits. Croteau leads the Lions in sacks and Puskas leads them in tackles. Highland RB/SS Kohner Cullimore holds down a stingy defense and makes enough big plays on offense to open it up for the Hawks. Highland has been playing so well the last few weeks, that it’s going to take Liberty’s best game for four quarters to win.

Prediction: Highland 24, Liberty 20

No. 6 Gilbert Perry (9-2) at No. 3 Phoenix Desert Vista (10-1), Friday, 7 p.m.

This is a chance for the Thunder to show what it is made of. The team feels like it has been flying under the radar all season with the only loss coming against Highland, where Desert Vista lost top rusher Tyson Grubbs for the season with an injury. Colby Humphrey is coming off maybe his best game running the ball last week for the Thunder. Desert Vista will need to control the clock and not let junior QB Chubba Purdy take over the game for Perry with his legs. He has run for more than 150 yards in each of his last two games. Perry’s defense, led by safety Travis Calloway, took a big step in the right direction last week, forcing five Basha turnovers in a 38-21 win.

Prediction: Perry 33, Desert Vista 28

Chubba Purdy leads Perry’s high-powered offense against Basha in first round state playoff game.Richard Obert, azcentral sports

No. 10 Mesa Red Mountain (9-2) at No. 2 Phoenix Pinnacle (10-1), Friday, 7 p.m.

Pinnacle has shown great fortitude, coming back from deficits against Liberty and last week against Mesa Desert Ridge in the second half to win. QB J.D. Johnson will have to be spot on, because Red Mountain’s defense is tough. It likes to blitz and put pressure on the quarterback. Shaq Daniels leads a strong shut-down secondary for the Lions, who withstood a late rally by Queen Creek last week to move on. But this will be the fastest team Red Mountain has seen with a next-man-up mentality on offense carrying the Pioneers.

Prediction: Pinnacle 31, Red Mountain 28

To suggest human-interest story ideas and other news, reach Obert at richard.obert@arizonarepublic.com or 602-316-8827. Follow him at twitter.com/azc_obert.

Mountain Pointe enters the 6A playoffs as the No. 8 seed with a 6-4 record.   

6A playoff preview: No. 9 Brophy at No. 8 Mountain Pointe

Updated 

Mountain Pointe

The Pride played the second-toughest schedule of any team in Arizona, according to the AIA. Mountain Pointe ends the regular season 6-4, having lost three games by a touchdown or less.

Mountain Pointe’s defense has talented players at all levels, and the Pride have not allowed more than 27 points since an opening-game loss at Pinnacle. Senior receiver Rashion Hodge leads all tacklers with 82.

On offense, the Pride run the ball frequently behind a large offensive line. Mountain Pointe has developed somewhat of a three-headed rushing attack with senior quarterback Nick Wallerstedt, senior running back Jakim McKinney and sophomore running back Eli Sanders. All three are fast and can shake off potential tacklers. Play action opens one-on-one match-ups for the Pride’s quick receivers down the field as well.

Through seven weeks, the Pride were 3-4 but turned the season around by winning three in a row.

“We’re really just happy to be on this three-game win-streak,” coach Rich Wellbrock said. “We’ve had some good second halves, now if we can play like that in the first half we’ll be good to go.”

Brophy Prep

The Broncos bounced back from a 1-9 2017 season to 7-3 this year, under first-year head coach Jon Kitna. Brophy lost two of its final three games in road matches against heavyweights Chandler and Perry in respective weeks. But, the Broncos pulled out a season-ending home win against playoff-bound Basha on senior night.

Brophy is led by its defense, which has allowed just a touchdown or less in six of its ten games this year. The Broncos’ leading tackler is senior Sully Shannon (86) and Will Broucek has added 81 and a team-high seven sacks.

While the defense has been stout, Brophy’s offense has struggled to move the ball at times. Sophomore quarterback Jalen Kitna has 1,431 yards and 16 touchdowns through the air, but has also thrown 15 interceptions. Senior Marques White is Brophy’s leading rusher, with just 420 yards and two scores on the ground.

Mountain Pointe goes up against Perry on Friday, November 17th with the winner advancing to the State Championship game.   Red Mountain takes on Chandler in the other semi.  

2017 AIA Football6A State Championship Bracket

Mountain Pointe will host Highland on Friday, November 10th at 7:00 pm in the State Championship Quarterfinals.  Find the 6A State Championship bracket here.

State Championship | Mountain Pointe vs. Chandler | Saturday, November 26 | University of Phoenix Stadium | 7:00 pm

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.

The Pride will head to the University of Phoenix stadium Saturday night to play the #2 ranked Chandler Wolves. Kick off at 7:00 pm. Come out and cheer on the Pride at the Arizona 6A State Championship game!

Mountain Pointe WR Jaydon Brooks threw the go-ahead touchdown to lift Mountain Pointe over Red Mountain and into the 6A Conference final. (Jake Rill/azcentral sports)

Watch Jaydon’s post-game interview here:  Jaydon Brooks’ trick TD pass leads Mountain Pointe into 6A final

East Valley Tribune | Varsity Extra

GameNight: Red Mountain nearly knocks off No. 1 Mountain Pointe

Posted: Friday, November 18, 2016 11:45 pm | Updated: 12:19 am, Sat Nov 19, 2016.

Jaydon Brooks has been Mountain Pointe’s emergency quarterback the last couple of the years.

An emergency cropped up Friday.

While he technically didn’t come in at quarterback, the Pride offense was in dire need of rescue as top-seeded and heavily favored Mountain Pointe was deadlocked in a tie in the fourth quarter of the 6A Conference against No. 13 Red Mountain.

Brooks, a wide receiver by trade, took a handoff on a reverse, pulled up on the right side and hit a streaking Isaiah Pola-Mao for a 59-yard touchdown with 6:55 left in the game for a 21-14 win.

“I don’t know if I’d call it an emergency, but we needed something big happen,” Brooks said. “I have never completed that pass, and when I saw Isaiah that open I knew I had to get it to him somehow.”

The ball – according to Pola-Mao – seemed to be in the air forever, but he caught to give the Pride (13-0) the margin of victory back in order to return to the state championship game for the third time.

“It was a great call by the coaches,” Pola-Mao said. “They noticed the (Red Mountain) corners were crashing line of scrimmage. When you are that open you can over think it, but there was no way I was going to drop that one.”

The win gives the Pride a chance to win its second state title in four seasons when they play No. 2 Chandler (11-2) on Saturday, Nov. 26 at 7 p.m. at University of Phoenix Stadium.

“It don’t even know what to say about it,” Brooks said. “It’s not real yet.”

And it almost didn’t happen thanks to a valiant effort by Red Mountain (8-5).

The Mountain Lions trailed 14-0 at halftime, but went into the intermission on a high after the Pride failed to score in the final moments of the second quarter despite getting down to the Red Mountain 3-yard line.

A false start, a dropped pass by Brooks on a difficult catch in the end zone and then a missed 19-yard field kept it at 14-0 at the half.

Red Mountain scored on its first two possessions of the second half as Austin Duffy started to heat up in completing a 25-yard score to a wide open Mack Klafter and a 33-yard acrobatic catch Josh Daniels with 5:37 left in the third quarter.

While the Mountain Lions will always remembering pushing a team ranked in the top 10 nationally to the brink, what will hurt was the missed opportunity to take the lead.

Duffy connected with Daniels again, this time for 43 yards, plus a personal foul on Mountain Pointe’s Pola-Mao for unnecessary roughness, to put the ball to the Pride 6.

The Pride defense stepped up – especially when running back Lance Lawson pulled up to throw a pass and no one was open he was tackled for a loss.

It led to an eventual 32-yard field by that was no good. Wide left.

“We had to get points on that third trip down there,” Red Mountain coach Ron Wisneiwski said. “It’s easy to look at plays after they don’t work, but we thought what we had was the right play in that moment. We still had a chance there and didn’t get anything out of it. It’s a different game if we take the lead there, but we didn’t.”

Two drives later, Brooks found Pola-Mao for the go-ahead score and then the Mountain Pointe defense, including a tipped ball by linebacker Rashie Hodge on the second-to-last drive and a sniffing out of a screen play on fourth down on Red Mountain’s final drive, closed out the game.

“We did some uncharacteristic things, missed wide open receivers, dropped touchdowns and missed kicks,” Pride coach Norris Vaughan said. “Give Red Mountain credit it, they played hard. We won and advanced and that’s all that matters.”

It was the first time all year Mountain Pointe didn’t have a lead to start the fourth quarter and just the second time all year an opponent had a chance to tie the game in the final 12 minutes.

“We needed something like this,” said junior running back Delano Salgado, who had 166 yards rushing including a 68-yard touchdown in the first quarter. “We know a team can play with us and push us. We really haven’t had that situation and we were able to respond.”

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

Box score

Mountain Pointe 21, Red Mountain 14

RM 0 0 14 0–14

MP 7 7 0 7–21

Scoring

First

MP-Salgado 68 run (Abercrombie kick), 2:15

Second

MP- Hodge 34 fumble return (Abercrombie kick)m 10:34

Third

RM – Klafter 25 pass from Duffy (Huffman kick)

RM – Daniels 33 pass from Duffy (Huffman kick), 5:37

Fourth

MP – Pola-Mao 59 pass from Brooks (Abercrombie kick), 6:55

Team stats

                    RM               MP

First downs     11               14

Rush-yards    32-159        29-262

Comp-Att-INT  6-17-0        4-10-0

Pass yards      129               97

Total yards     288              359

Fumbles/lost    2/2             3/1

Penalties         6-33            4-30

Individual stats

Rushing

RM – Lawson 22-104, Romero 3-7, Duffy 4-26, Rappoport 1-2, Moore 2-20. MP – Hodge 10-46, Salgado 12-166, Woodbury 1-5, Stephens 3-25, Wallerstedt 3-20.

Passing

RM – Duffy 6-16-0-98, Lawson 1-1-0-(-)1. MP – Grover 3-9-0-35, Brooks 1-1-0-59.

Receiving

RM – Daniels 3-87, Klafter 1-25, Pereira 2-3, Moore 1-14. MP – Pola-Mao 1-59, Brooks 1-23, Hodge 1-15.

Missed FG

RM -Huffman 39, 32. MP – Abercrombie 19.

 
 

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Mountain Pointe holds off Red Mountain for 6A title game berth

Jake Rill, Special for azcentral sports10:35 p.m. MST November 18, 2016

Senior wide receiver Jaydon Brooks is the emergency quarterback for Phoenix Mountain Pointe. On Friday night, there was an emergency.

It wasn’t because of an injury, but rather offensive inefficiency. Top-seeded Mountain Pointe was tied with No. 13-seeded Mesa Red Mountain late at Tempe McClintock High. And worse yet, it hadn’t scored since early in the second quarter – which was a defensive touchdown.

Brooks came to the rescue.

With 6 minutes, 55 seconds to go in the 6A Conference semifinal, Brooks received an end-around handoff, then threw a go-ahead, 59-yard touchdown bomb to senior receiver Isaiah Pola-Mao, lifting Mountain Pointe to a 21-14 win and pushing his team into next Saturday’s state championship game at University of Phoenix Stadium.

“I was looking at him, I was like, ‘Wow, he’s wide open, there’s no one there. I can’t mess this up,’ ” Brooks said. “That’s exactly what I was thinking.”

RELATED: Updated high school football playoff schedule

And he did exactly what he needed to.

While Red Mountain (8-5) scored a pair of touchdowns in the third quarter to tie the game, Mountain Pointe (13-0) struggled on offense. It punted on its first three possessions in the second half, picking up only a pair of first downs.

But on the second play of a 74-yard drive, it all changed. Brooks’ pass spiraled through the air toward the right sideline, looking much more like a quarterback’s throw than a wide receiver’s. All Pola-Mao had to do was catch the pass in stride, running it in for the easy go-ahead score.

“To be honest, couldn’t have been any better timing from our coaches,” Brooks said. “I’m just glad they had the faith in me to get it down there to Isaiah to make him do his thing.”

Red Mountain opened the second half with touchdowns on two consecutive drives. Junior quarterback Austin Duffy threw a 25-yard touchdown to junior fullback Mack Klafter, then a tying 33-yard score to senior receiver Josh Daniels. Duffy had completed just one pass in the first half.

Mountain Pointe had lost momentum, while Red Mountain seemingly was gaining steam toward perhaps another improbable victory.

MORE: Complete high school football playoffs coverage

“We couldn’t catch a ball; we couldn’t throw a ball,” Mountain Pointe coach Norris Vaughan said. “It was one of those nights where we couldn’t do anything right.”

Yet, it will be Vaughan’s team in the state final against Chandler High next Saturday.

When Vaughan addressed his team after the game, he pointed at his squad being able to make a big play. There were a few even before the go-ahead touchdown.

Junior running back Delano Salgado broke off a 68-yard touchdown run in the first quarter, finishing with 167 yards on 12 carries. In the second quarter, senior linebacker Rashie Hodge Jr. returned a fumble 39 yards for a score.

Because of that trio of big scoring plays, Mountain Pointe has a chance at a second undefeated season in four years next weekend.

“Our kids played hard, and we just made some adjustments,” Vaughan said. “And they did a good job there in the end on defense.”