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Under the tutelage of Head Coach Norris Vaughan, 30 Mountain Pointe football players have signed with Division One schools over the past eight years.

 

2010

Alex Lewis  –  Nebraska
Ben Demarr   –  Air Force
Davon Jones   –  Mississippi Valley State

2011

Izzy Marshall  –   Arizona State
Jose Romero   –  Arizona
JR Plote   –  South Dakota State

2012

RJ Hollis  –  Hawaii

2013

Kenny Lacy  –  UCLA
Tre Campbell  –  Georgia State
Landry Payne  –  Oregon State
Thair Blakes  –  UAB

2014

Jalen Brown  –  Oregon/Northwestern
Wesley Payne  –  Oregon State
Timmy Hernandez  –  Oregon State
Markell Simmons  –  TCU
Natrell Curtis  –  UAB
Dominique Fenstermacher  –  UNLV
Mitchell Fraboni  –  ASU
Emmanuel Butler  –  NAU
Deontay Townsend  –  Sam Houston State
Xavier Cochrane  –  Colorado

2015

Nick Carman  –  Utah
Davis Perrott  –  Washington State
Paul Lucas  –  Oregon State
Brandyn Leonard  –  New Mexico State

2016

Jack Smith  –  Arizona State

2017

Isaiah Pola-Mao  –  USC
Eddie Rivas  –  NAU
Jaydon Brooks  –  Navy
Rashie Hodge  –  South Dakota State

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 jskoda@evtrib.com. 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

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 jskoda@ahwatukee.com. 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

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

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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Versatility on the offensive line fuels Pride offense

Posted: Thursday, October 20, 2016 10:04 pm

The Mountain Pointe football roster lists the offensive linemen without specific positions.

No one is listed as a tackle, guard or center. Everyone is listed OL.

It reflects the match-up strategy employed this year by the Pride coaching staff.

The same five players have started the last four games, but their positions change on the basis of on the strength of the opposition’s defensive front.

Four different players have started at center over the last four games. The lineup against Corona del Sol (4-4) this week for the Pride (8-0) will be different from what its lineup last week against Desert Ridge.

“In years past we couldn’t have done that,” Mountain Pointe offensive line coach Aaron Frana said. “Have a center go play tackle? That’s a tough assignment. These are guys are like, ‘You want me to move? OK.’ They never question it.

“I love it. They want to win and they do whatever it takes to do it.”

The key–other than the players’ versatility–is the level of play of senior Eddie Rivas, who is the strategy’s lynchpin as he is moved around to take on the opposition’s top player.

“I take it as a direct challenge,” said Rivas, who has played four of the five line positions. “The coaches put their faith in me to take on the top guy and I want that responsibility, plus I know whoever plays in the position I left is going to get the job done.”

His climb to one of the best linemen in the state didn’t start out all that well when he had a chance to play in the Chandler playoff game as a sophomore.

“I was like, ‘Whoa, tell me what to do,’” Rivas said. “I think (the defense) they were going to be that fast and strong. I knew I had a lot of work do when I pulled and I hit a linebacker and he didn’t move. I was like ‘get somebody else in there.’”

Two years later, he is the key to most versatile line in the state.

“He was a big raw kid,” Frana said. “He’s matured, got stronger in the weight room and now he can match up with anyone on the edge. When you have a kid who can play all five positions, you take advantage of it.”

The idea began to take shape when senior Joe Sales-Lopez sustained a concussion and had trouble getting cleared until this week.

With Sales-Lopez, who was going to be the starting left guard, out, the lineup starting changing. Star defensive linemen Matthew Pola-Moa and Shomari Hayes rotated at tackle.

When they needed a break because of their defensive responsibilities, sophomore Alex Vogel was inserted. And when he handled himself well, it became clear the unit had another capable body.

“I was not expecting it this year,” said the 220-pound Vogel, who has started at both tackle spots and center. “I made way on to the scout team and things progressed from there. I was kind of nervous at first but at the first snap you just play.”

The other three are junior Mason Honne, who has played left tackle and center; and seniors Justice Hudson, who has played center and left guard, and Rudy Rauls, who has played right guard all year.

With all the changes, many people might expect some struggles with continuity and/or rhythm. But the Pride is churning out 345 yards rushing a game with 33 touchdowns.

“Our offensive line has played really well,” Pride coach Norris Vaughan said. “We moved guys around in the past, like Natrell Curtis would play tackle or guard, but we’ve never done it at center before. That’s really unusual. They’ve played no matter where we’ve put them.”

Expect more of the same as the regular season wraps up and the Pride tries to clinch the 6A Central Region title this week—and possibly the fourth undefeated regular season since 2009 the following week against Gilbert.

There could be as many as six games remaining and there could just as many starting lineups along the offensive line.

“We will have a raffle to see who starts where,” Frana, who is also the co-offensive coordinator, joked. “It says a lot about them not only as athletes, but they have to be smart, too, to play different positions. We’ve put a lot on their plates and they keep going out an executing at a high level.”

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

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

 
 

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ARTICLE: GameNight: Mountain Pointe starts slow, finishes strong against Corona

COLLECTION: Mountain Pointe at Desert Ridge

ARTICLE: GameNight: Hodge’s big night pushes Pride past Desert Ridge

ARTICLE: Pola-Mao nears Brown’s school record

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ARTICLE: Stephens, Pride running game continue to roll without Bragg

ARTICLE: Moving the chains: MP running game continues to flourish

ARTICLE: On the move: Offensive talent will be showcased on Friday nights

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ARTICLE: Stephens, Pride running game continue to roll without Bragg

ARTICLE: Moving the chains: MP running game continues to flourish

ARTICLE: Legacy left: Pride keep up with standard set by previous squads

Running back Anthony Stephens #1 of Mountain Pointe is hit out of bounds during the first half of the 20th annual Tukee Bowl high school football game between Desert Vista and Mountain Pointe at Mountain Pointe High School on Friday, September 30, 2016 in Phoenix, Arizona.  [Photo by Billy Hardiman/Special to Tribune]

Stephens, Pride running game continue to roll without Bragg

Posted: Thursday, October 6, 2016 10:51 am

A characteristic of a seasoned running back is patience, waiting for a play to develop before turning up field.

Anthony Stephens has shown signs of being that type of runner, but he admittedly didn’t have it in him in Mountain Pointe’s third game of the year.

It was his first after being suspended for disciplinary reasons the first two games, meaning every carry was like three carries in his mind as he tried to make up for his mistake.

“I was anxious and I just wanted to go,” he said this week. “I wanted to make up for that lost time. I was the starting running back and then just like that I wasn’t. I had to calm down and see things differently.”

He sees things differently not only with the ball in his hands, but also what it truly meant to be a good teammate.

Missing that time because of something he did in the offseason cost him a more prominent role to start the year and vital time on the field.

More telling was the fact that he put himself before the team.

“I learned a lot,” Stephens said. “When you are in it for the team, it comes with a lot of sacrifices and commitments. I should have known it all along but that mistake really showed me what it means to be a teammate.”

The guy who took over his starting spot, junior Gary Bragg, tore his right anterior cruciate ligament two weeks ago in the win over Pinnacle.

Bragg was on his way to an all-state type of season with 891 yards and 11 touchdowns in five games, but now he is in rehab mode.

“All I can do is work hard and come back stronger,” Bragg said from the sidelines of the Ahwautkee Bowl.

It means Stephens and others have a chance to become the main back in the Pride’s dominant running game, which averages 327.5 yards a game entering Friday’s game at Highland (2-4).

The one thing that separates the 5-foot-10, 168-pound Stephens is that fact he only plays offense while Antwaun Woodberry (cornerback), Rashie Hodge (linebacker) and Delano Salgado (cornerback) have started on defense.

“We are going to mix it up, but we have to limit some of these guys on offense because they are so important on defense,” Pride coach Norris Vaughan said. “Woodberry can be special, but he is kind still learning back there. Hodge could be the guy, but we don’t want to wear him down too much.”

With the way the offensive line is playing, and the versatility it has shown in recent weeks, whoever lines up in the backfield is going to find holes to their liking.

“We are going to hold this position down,” Woodberry said on Friday. “We will pick (Bragg) up. He was going off, and now we have to step up.”

Senior Eddie Rivas has played every position depending on the opponent, Mason Honne moved from tackle to center,

Justice Hudson went from center to left guard and only right guard Rudy Rauls has played the same position, Sophomore Alex Vogel has found his way into the lineup at left tackle as Matthew Pola-Mao and Shomari Hayes started to concentrate on defense only.

“If we do our job it doesn’t matter who is back there,” Honne said. “They’re all good, and we have been creating some holes. We’ve made some changes and we’ve all adjusted to it.”

It’s been a winning combination, but Vaughan said the passing game may be counted on more without Bragg, whom he called the best running back in the state.

“It’s not going to change much,” he said. “It hurts you, but these guys are going to get better. Going forward though we are probably going to throw the ball more.”

However it shakes out the rest of the season, Stephens, who is the second leading rusher with 43 carries for 316 yards and three touchdowns, is ready to make the most of his opportunity.

Patiently.

“If I see it I’ll take it, but sometimes you have to wait it out,” he said. “You have let things develop and then turn it up. A good back can do both and I think we all have it covered.”

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

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

 
 

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MtPt 2016

Mountain Pointe senior running back/linebacker is one of Pride players being heavily counted on to keep the Mountain Pointe standard high.


2016 football: Pride tackle annual expectations head on

Posted: Thursday, August 18, 2016 11:05 am

The mounting expectations at Mountain Pointe High School haven’t fazed anyone in its football program.

Instead of letting that pressure stifle their growth, each Pride squad just keeps adding to it by maintaining a high standard.

This year the stadium has a ring of honor of sorts: past players are pictured in banners circling the entrance of Karl Kiefer Stadium.

Those banners both symbolize the team’s past success and inspires the current group of players who are strapping on the maroon and gold.

“I want to be up there some day,” senior cornerback Antwaun Woodberry said. “Those guys did things that gave us the things we have. If they didn’t do what they did, we wouldn’t be expected to keep it going.”

Mountain Pointe, which has the best record (48-6) among big-school programs over the last four years, is entering the year ranked No. 23 nationally by MaxPreps and is considered one of the favorites in the 6A Conference title chase.

One of the top and stable coaching staffs, led by Norris Vaughan, has some of the best talent around annually to work with and it has led to one state title (2013), one state runner-up finish (2012) and four other state semifinal appearances since 2009.

The 2016 squad expects to add to the program’s legacy.

“When you put on the Mountain Pointe jersey, you are expected to perform,” senior wide receiver Jaydon Brooks said. “Maybe it’s a lot for young guys at first, but you begin to understand what it means pretty quick. There’s a lot of stuff around here with all the banners and records.”

The players believe they have a chance to reach similar pinnacles as those before them, but there are still 10 games, including a tough California trip (Aug. 27 versus Upland at Norco High), and a new Central region schedule to navigate over the next two and half months.

“We know how good we can be,” senior wide receiver/safety Isaiah Pola-Mao said. “We know what it is going to take. We’ve made it to the semis but that’s not the goal. This team wants to be and can be great.”

The offense has a combination of established players (Brooks, Palo-Mao, linemen Mason Honne and Eddie Rivas) and ready-to-prove-they-belong players (quarterback Noah Grover, running backs Gary Bragg and Anthony Stephens, lineman Justice Hudson.

Grover is one of the team’s top students and makes good decisions. Words is he is one of the most accurate passers the Pride has had in recent years.

“I’m ready to take over,” said Grover, who was 9 of 15 for 105 yards with two touchdowns in three games last year. “I’ve been in the system for a couple of years and there is a lot of talent around me so I just have to get the ball out and in their hands.”

The running back situation will be one of the storylines to watch as Bragg, who is coming off a huge junior varsity year, figures to get the first look; Stephens is suspended the first two games for an unspecified disciplinary reason.

Others, like Rashie Hodge and Woodberry, will get an opportunity to carry the ball for a program that has average 3,300 yards per year since 2009.

The defense has more established players returning than the offense does, although there might be less depth after the first unit.

“We can be really good on defense,” Vaughan said. “Some of those guys might be the best in the state at their position. We are bigger up front compared to other years but we don’t have as speed on the line. If they stay on assignment it could be one of best defenses we’ve had.”

The front line and defensive back field are both units that rank among the best in the state.

Khalif Ravenell, Shomari Hayes, Matthew Pola-Mao and Daniel Pena are big, strong and hungry on the defensive front and they give the defense the flexibility of playing three- or four-man front.

The defensive backfield has Woodberry and Cesar Chavez High School transfer Donte Lindsey at the corner spots with Kenny Churchwell and Isaiah Pola-Mao at safety.

The linebacker corps is led by Hodge, but the others are getting their first real taste of varsity action in Xavier Cota, Michael Washington and Jacob Olsen.

“No one knows the linebackers other than Hodge, but they are good,” Woodberry said. “With the big guys (on the line) they’ll be open to make tackles all over the field.”

It adds up to a campaign that should fall right in line with what Mountain Pointe has been able to do in transforming the program since bottoming out at 2-8 in 2008.

“We want to win our region, but that’s not our goal,” Brooks said. “At Mountain Pointe we watch the older guys play for state titles and when we get to varsity we expect to do it, too.”

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

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Mountain Pointe schedule

Coach: Norris Vaughan (76-15 at MP in eight years, and 248-110-2 overall*)

* = time as interim coach (about four wins) not recorded because of incomplete information

Last year: 12-1, lost in state semifinals

Last 10 years: 88-33

Aug. 19 Sandra Day O’Connor

Aug. 27 vs. Upland (Calif.), (Brothers in Arms Tournament)

Sept. 2 Bye

Sept. 9 vs. Chandler

Sept. 16 vs. Mountain View

Sept. 23 at Pinnacle

Sept. 30 vs. Desert Vista

Oct. 7 at Highland

Oct. 14 at Desert Ridge

Oct. 21 vs. Corona

Oct. 28 at Gilbert

All State Team, Team Rankings and More

JASON JEWELL

12:54 PM

Preseason All 6A Team

QB- Ryan Kelley – SR – Basha
RB- T.J. Green – SR – Chandler
RB- Tyler Vasko – SR – Westview
WR- Terrell Brown – SR – Basha
WR- Kade Warner – SR – Desert Mountain
TE- Tyler Johnson – SR – Highland
OL- Jonathan Nathaniel – SR – Basha
OL- Creston Cooledge – SR – Valley Vista
OL- Ben Thomas – SR – Pinnacle
OL- Eddie Rivas – SR – Mt. Pointe
OL- Tyler Stevens – SR – Hamilton

DL- Jalen Harris – SR – Desert Ridge
DL- Jaquan Graves – SR – Chavez
DL- Matthew Pola-Pao – SOPH – Mt. Pointe
DL- Kolo Uasike – SR – Skyline
LB- Sam Pepper – SR – Chandler
LB- Christian Allen – SR – Desert Ridge
LB- Rashie Hodge – SR – Mt. Pointe
DB- Isaiah Pola-Mao – SR – Mt. Pointe
DB- Imani Lee – SR – Chandler
DB- Tavion Allen – SR – Chavez
DB- Rourke Freeburg – SR – Desert Mountain

All-Purpose- Kolby Taylor – SR – Chandler
Return- Keishaud White – JR – Desert Vista
K- Anthony Decozio – SR – Desert Ridge
P- Jeff McGuire – SR – Pinnacle

Preseason Top 10

1. Chandler
2. Mountain Pointe
3. Hamilton
4. Desert Ridge
5. Pinnacle
6. Skyline
7. Basha
8. Brophy
9. Westview
10. Chavez

Others Considered: Mesa, Red Mountain, O’Connor, Sunnyside, Tucson, Desert Vista, Mt. View, Millennium

Regions

Desert Valley

Boulder Creek, Desert Mountain, Horizon, Mt. Ridge, Pinnacle, O’Connor
Favorite– Pinnacle
Contender– O’Connor
Player of the Year– Spencer Rattler- SOPH – QB – Pinnacle

Southern

Cibola, Kofa, Rincon, Sunnyside, Tucson
Favorite– Tucson
Contender– Sunnyside
Player of the Year– Tyree Pierson – SR – WR – Tucson

Central

Corona del Sol, Desert Ridge, Desert Vista, Gilbert, Highland, Mt. Pointe
Favorite– Mt. Pointe
Contender– Desert Ridge
Player of the Year– Jalen Harris – SR – WR/DE – Desert Ridge

East Valley

Dobson, Mesa, Mesa Mt. View, Red Mountain, Skyline, Westwood
Favorite– Skyline
Contenders– Mesa, Mt. View, Red Mountain
Player of the Year– Curtis Hodges – SR – WR – Mt. View

Premier

Basha, Brophy, Chandler, Hamilton, Perry
Favorite– Chandler
Contender– Hamilton
Player of the Year– T.J. Green – SR – RB – Chandler

Metro

Alhambra, Central, Chavez, Maryvale, North, Trevor Browne
Favorite– Chavez
Contender– Alhambra
Player of the Year– Tavion Allen – SR – DB – Chavez

Southwest

Copper Canyon, La Joya, Millennium, Tolleson, Valley Vista, Westview
Favorite– Westview
Contender– Millennium
Player of the Year– Tyler Vasko – RB – Westview