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In the limelight

Mountain Pointe handled Upland 41-22 at Norco High in California.

Posted: Sunday, August 28, 2016 12:43 am | Updated: 12:55 am, Sun Aug 28, 2016.

NORCO, Calif. – It’s no wonder Mountain Pointe heads out of state on an annual basis these days.

The Pride won an early season out-of-state battle for the fourth straight year in impressive fashion as Mountain Pointed handled Upland 41-22 Saturday at Gary Campbell Field at Norco High as part of the Brothers in Arms showcase.

“We are representing the whole state, not just our school or our city,” senior cornerback Antwaun Woodberry said. “We want to show everyone that Arizona is a great football state every time we play.”

Mountain Pointe scored three of its first four drives and punted just once in the first half to jump on Upland 20 in just over a quarter of play.

Quarterback Noah Grover connected with three different receivers for touchdowns as Gary Bragg scored on a 10-yard swing pass out of the back field, Isaiah Pola-Mao took advantage of single coverage when the safety was late reacting for a 48-yard score and Jaydon Brooks split two defenders at the 10-yard line with a spin move on the way to a 31-yard score.

“We saw their safeties came in hard so we knew we had some good matchups on the outside,” said Grover, who finished 9 for 14 for 276 yards and four touchdowns. “We work a lot on that in practice, the timing with the deep ball and where (Pola-Mao) likes it.”

Pola-Moa added a 77-yard touchdown in the second half on a third-and-17 from the 23 to finish with five catches for 215 yards, two scores and an interception on defense.

“He’s a great, great player,” Pride coach Norris Vaughan said. “Our quarterback had a great game, and he found Pola a few times for big plays.”

Meanwhile the Pride defense stuffed the run and the Upland quarterback David Baldwin wasn’t accurate enough to take advantage of open receivers.

“We saw on film if he felt pressure, he got rid of the ball in a hurry,” Woodberry said. “Our D-Line and linebackers were going to get after him and the DBs were ready for the ball came out quick.”

The second half was about the Mountain Pointe offensive line wearing down Upland as Bragg and Rashie Hodge, who had a 72-yard touchdown run, finding themselves in the second level of the defense time and again.

Bragg finished with 160 yards and Hodge had 98 as the team cranked out 303 yards on the ground.

“We wore them out in the second half,” senior guard Rudy Rauls said. “The coaches said we wanted to hit them in the mouth, and we didn’t hit hard enough in the first half. The second half we really went after them.”

The Pride have now topped Bishop Gorman and McQueen from Nevada, Bakersfield and Upland from California in recent years.

“I don’t why,” Vaughan said of their out-of-state success. “I guess we are just better than most teams we’ve faced. When our guys are challenged they met it.”

Mountain Pointe will now get a bye before facing Chandler, which lost 56-49 in the second game of the double header, on Thursday, Sept. 8.

“We’re in a good spot,” Vaughan said. “We’re 2-0, have some time off and can get ready for Chandler. That’s going to tell us a lot about where we are at against a very good team.”

– Contact Jason Skoda at 480-898-7915 or Follow him on Twitter @JasonPSkoda.

– Check us out and like the Ahwatukee Foothills News on Facebook and follow @AhwatukeeFN on Twitter.


Box score

Mountain Pointe 41, Upland (Calif.) 22

MP 13 7 14 7 –41

U 0 3 6 13—22


MP –Bragg 10 pass from Grover (PAT blocked), 8:05

MP- Pola-Mao 48 pass from Grover (Abercrombie kick), :15


MP- Brooks 31 pass from Grover (Abercrombie kick), 10:03

U – Mojarro 23 FG, :32


U – Mojarro 30 FG, 12:15

MP – Pola-Mao 77 pass from Grover (Abercrombie kick), 7:38

MP – Hodge 72 run (Abercrombie kick), 3:59

U – Potts 34 pass from Baldwin (2 point failed), 1:55


MP-Bragg 36 run (Abercrombie kick), 3:04

U – Unknown touchdown, 1:44

Team stats

                           MP                 U

Rush-yards          31-303         18-10

Att-comp-int         9-14-0          9-30-1

Pass yards            276              135

Total yards           579               145

First downs            17                 8

Fumbles/lost          2/1              4/2

Penalties               11-110         4-29

Individual stats


MP – Bragg 20-160, Hodge 6-98, Brooks 1-(-)1, Grover 1-(-)1, Salgado 3-45. U – Seymore 9-21, Jones 3-10, Baldwin 6-21.


MP – Grover 9-14-0-276. U- Baldwin 9-29-1-135, Potts 0-1-0-0.


MP – Pola-Mao 5-215, Brooks 1-31, Bragg 2-23, Smallwood 1-7. U – Sweet 4-101, Ratliff 1-12, Parker 3-17, Rojas 1-5.

Missed FGs

MP – Abercrombie (33).


More about

Mountain Pointe’s running attack is expected to go through several running backs this year including Gary Bragg.

Moving the chains: MP running game continues to flourish

Posted: Thursday, August 25, 2016 2:30 pm

Over the last seven seasons, Mountain Pointe High School’s football team has rushed for more than 13 miles — just over a half-marathon.

If the season opener is any indication of what to expect in 2016, the Pride looks to be keeping up with that pace.

Mountain Pointe ran for an estimated 315 yards in just 33 offensive plays in a 51-6 win over Sandra Day O’Connor on Friday.

The schedule will get tougher, including this week’s game in California as the Pride faces Upland at Norco High.

But history suggests that by the end of its 2016 campaign, Mountain Pointe will average about 257.2 yards a game and 3,343.71 for the season.

“We like to win so we run the ball,” Mountain Pointe coach Norris Vaughan said. “We commit to running the ball. We like to be balanced, but in my mind that means 350 yards rushing and 250 passing.”

It doesn’t matter how much personnel changes or stays the same; Mountain Pointe finds a way to churn out the yardage.

Last year the team depended on running back Macarius Blount nearly every running play while quarterback Jack Smith did plenty of damage as well.

The plan to start the year is to share most of the carries largely among between senior Anthony Stephens, junior Gary Bragg, senior Rashie Hodge.

Stephens is out for one more game for disciplinary reasons, which gives others like Bragg — who ran for 210 yards in the opening game on nine carries — to make a bigger impression.

“I’m on varsity now, and you have to wait sometimes for your shot,” said Bragg, who had two long touchdowns 80 and 73 yards. “Right now I have to make the most of the chance.”

His second touchdown, with the second and third team players in the game on the offensive line, saw him brake through the line and stick a spin move around the defender for a clear path to the end zone.

“It was a great move,” Vaughan said. “He can be a special player. He’s small, a little ball of muscle, and is quick as anybody on the field.”

With the bigger and stronger Hodge, who has been compared to former Pride player Wesley Payne, and Stephen, another speedster, Mountain Pointe will have plenty of options.

It means the offensive line must identify who is in the backfield and possibly hold their blocks a little longer when Hodge and not Bragg has the ball.

“You know who’s back there, so you might block a little different, or the scheme might be different depending on who it is,” senior tackle Eddie Rivas said.

Mountain Pointe’s continuous success is based on scheme, commitment and some superior athletes up front and in the backfield.

“I remember coming up and watching Nick Carmen, Clayton Dry and Davis Perrot just mauling people,” Rivas said. “It’s what you are expected to do here as a lineman. We expect to dominate.”

The Pride will get a test Friday at the Brothers in Arms game in California as they take on fast and physical defense against Upland at Norco High (5:30 p.m. kickoff).

The Highlanders have won at least 10 games five times since 2008 and their expectations are similar to the Pride’s annually.

“It’s a good team, a very good team actually,” Vaughan said. “It’s going to take a good effort to beat them.”

That will start with ball control, running the ball and spreading the ball around while the line (with three new starters in Rudy Rauls, Justice Hudson and Shomari Hayes) breaks the huddle, expecting to impose its will.

“It’s about playing with an attitude, digging in and moving the guy in front of you,” Rivas said. “Mountain Pointe runs the ball and Coach Vaughan and the coaches expect it of every team every year.”

So 2016 shouldn’t be any different. It’s their time to pile up the mileage.

“Running the ball is about attitude,” Hodge said. “You line up and run hard until the play is over. It usually works out good for us.”

– Contact Jason Skoda at 480-898-7915 or Follow him on Twitter @JasonPSkoda.

– Check us out and like the Ahwatukee Foothills News on Facebook and follow @AhwatukeeFN on Twitter.

[Photo courtesy of Mountain Pointe High School Football Facebook Page – sponsored by the MPHS Football Booster Club]

Posted: Saturday, August 29, 2015 9:08 pm

GameNight: Pride knocks off Bakersfield in Brothers in Arms event

Mountain Pointe continued to enjoy playing football out on the road.

The Pride defeated an out-of-state opponent outside of the Arizona borders for the third straight year on Saturday when they beat Bakersfield 43-40 at Cathedral Catholic in San Diego as part of the Brothers in Arms event.

Mountain Pointe led 21-20 at the half, but trailed 33-28 late in the third quarter.

The Pride mounted the comeback after getting a fumble recovery with just over 8 minutes left in the game that led to the go-ahead score with 4:37 remaining.

Ke’Shaun Churchwell pushed the lead to 43-33 on a pick six before Bakersfield tacked on a late score.

Unofficially Pride quarterback Jack Smith completed 18 of 26 passes for 284 yards and three touchdowns hitting three different receivers Jaqunn Gipson, Ralph Roman and Isaiah Pola-Mao in the first half.

Mountain Pointe opened the previous two years with wins over Bishop Gorman and Reed of Nevada in the Barry Sollenberger Classic.

The Pride have a bye week this week.