Pride continue to win with a strong defense and running game - Mountain Pointe’s Gary Bragg, #8, threads his way through Pinnacle... [ read more ]

Pride, Thunder tuning up this weekend for the Tukee Bowl - Mountain Pointe dominates Mountain View on the Road [Photo Special to... [ read more ]

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 ]

Mountain Pointe’s Gary Bragg, #8, threads his way through Pinnacle defenders as he picks up yardage.

Photo by Cheryl HaselhorstBy Eddie Poe AFN Contributor  |  Updated 

Pride continue to win with a strong defense and running game

Phoenix Mountain Pointe continues to display why it’s the No. 1 high school football team in the state. 

Much like they did during their first three wins, the Pride were dominant early on the defensive side and their overpowering offensive line created all sorts of running opportunities for a backfield that absolutely tortured Pinnacle to the tune of a 58-34 victory Friday night at Karl Kiefer Stadium. 

“The offensive line and our running backs were the story of the game,” said Mountain Pointe coach Norris Vaughan.

Led by quarterback phenom Spencer Rattler, Pinnacle (3-3) climbed their way back into the game after falling behind 44-14 with just over nine minutes left to play in the game. 

After Rattler found Quinton Powell down the middle of the field for a near perfect 66-yard touchdown pass and an onside kick was recovered, the 6’2 commit to the University of Oklahoma found Kaleb Covington in the end zone to suddenly cut Mountain Pointe’s (4-1) lead to 44-34 with 4:15 left to play. 

“We had some guys who were banged up and tired so we kept having to sub guys in,” Vaughan said. “They just kept coming at us.” 

It was too little too late for the Pioneers though, as quarterback Nick Wallerstedt and the Pride kept to the ground game and simply lulled the Pinnacle defense to sleep until time ran out.

What easily could’ve been a game most highlighted by Mountain Pointe’s stout defense, resulted in a true showing of just how dangerous Gary Bragg and Jakim McKinney can be behind one of the best offensive line’s in the state. 

“The line was great, they did what they always do,” running back Jakim McKinney said. “They got off the ball and when they pulled, they pulled as fast as they could. Every time they created that hole [us] backs were able to find it and just run.” 

Finishing the game with four rushing touchdowns, McKinney knew just how to find those holes. On the second play of the fourth quarter, McKinney took a handoff from Wallerstedt, stepped outside a bit, looked back inside and bolted through a hole on the way to a 58-yard touchdown run — his second of the game.

He later added a 25-yard touchdown run and another to seal the victory for Mountain Pointe. His partner in the backfield, Bragg, scored the first touchdown of the night for the Pride.

“We’re like a perfect duo,” McKinney said. “When one of us gets tired after a long run, the other one switches in and we just keep grinding until one of us scores. We both ran great tonight.”

The constant grind on the ground saw its true effectiveness to begin the second half. Running 18 plays — 17 of them on the ground — Mountain Pointe took eight minutes off the clock as they trudged 80 yards down the field, essentially taking all momentum out of Pinnacle’s sails. 

From there, the rout was on and Rattler was never able to develop a healthy relationship with his receivers until it was far too late. 

Even when the Pioneers put together a handful of positive plays on offense, third down came knocking and they struggled throughout the night to move the chains when they most needed to.

To no surprise, Mountain Pointe dominated the line of scrimmage. It’s what they’ve been best known for over the years and the one thing they’ve stuck to through their first five games. 

Despite a few first half mistakes, they tightened up some things at halftime and provided a strong showing on their first home game of the season. 

“We came out strong for our first home game,” Bragg said. “It feels great.”

Mountain Pointe will travel to Desert Vista on Thursday night for the annual Tukee Bowl.

Mountain Pointe’s Jakim McKinney, #33, evades a Mountain View tackle on his way into the end zone for the Pride’s first touchdown.  [Photo by Cheryl Haselhorst]

Running game leads Mountain Pointe to third win.

By Eddie Poe AFN Contributor | 9/16/17

For a team that finished third in the 6A Conference in 2016 and fell short in the state title game, Phoenix Mountain Pointe looks to be doing everything they can to avenge last season’s result. 

A week after upsetting then No.1 Chandler on the road, top-ranked Mountain Pointe kept its foot on the gas pedal Friday night, cruising to a 35-3 victory over No. 22 Mesa Mountain View. 

“We were dominant on both offense and defense tonight,” Mountain Pointe coach Norris Vaughan said. “Our quarterback made plays and our backs ran really hard behind our line for most of the game.”

Mountain Pointe (3-1) wasn’t perfect on either side of the ball by any means. It racked up over a dozen penalties throughout the game, which allowed Mountain View (2-2) a time of possession which nearly seemed like an eternity. Fortunately for the Pride, secondary play from Kenny Churchwell and Lacarea Pleasant-Johnson kept the Toros out of the end-zone numerous times despite the long list of penalties. 

“[They] certainly made their fair share of plays,” Vaughan said. “We were so dominant on defense but it was the penalties that allowed them to stay on the field and keep their drives going.”

For the second straight week, Mountain Pointe got the offensive push up front that they’re accustomed to seeing, which created a plethora of holes for the backfield. 

After a drive early on led to a touchdown run by Jakim McKinney, a hole opened up once again to start the second quarter and Gary Bragg found paydirt for the second rushing touchdown in the game, scampering for a 23-yard touchdown to give the Pride a 14-3 lead.

A critical mistake to go for it on fourth down deep in their own territory, came back to bite the Toros right before the half. Mountain Pointe took over possession at the Toros’ 23-yard-line and a few plays later, McKinney ran it in from nine yards out for his second touchdown of the game. 

“We’ve all been working really hard at practice,” McKinney said. “Sometimes the guys up front make mistakes but they get right back up and they got a lot better tonight.”

A few minutes before the half, Mountain View had their best opportunity to get back in the game but another crucial mistake proved costly. On a screen pass out left, quarterback Brandon Nuñez hit Jacobby Dinwiddie in the flat and the offensive line carved out an open path to the end zone and Dinwiddie took it to the house for what seemed like a must-have touchdown. Unfortunately, a holding penalty negated the touchdown pass and Mountain Pointe went into the half with a 21-3 lead.

From there the rout continued as on the opening play of the second half, a hole practically the size of Arizona opened and quarterback Nick Wallerstedt it himself for a 77-yard touchdown run. 

“We knew what to expect tonight and I felt like our guys came out and played really hard on both sides,” Vaughan said. “We just need to cut down on penalties.”

To go along with four touchdowns on the ground, Wallerstedt connected with Pleasant-Johnson late in the fourth on a touchdown pass. He finished with a TD reception and an interception — a pick for a touchback late in the second quarter that stalled a Mountain View drive.

The Pride will return home next week for the first time this season, when they welcome quarterback phenom Spencer Rattler and Pinnacle High School (3-2). 

Marshawn Gibson marches down the field to start the fourth quarter against the Chandler Wolves.  [Photo courtesy of MP Football Facebook]

Pride, Thunder both take to the road Friday after big wins

By Greg Macafee, AFN Sports Editor  |  

The tough competition doesn’t stop with last weekend’s defeat of Chandler High as Mountain Pointe High will see where it stands against the Arizona’s top football talent in the coming weeks.

This week, the Pride will hit the road for the third straight week, taking on Mesa Mountain View (2-1).

The Toros are 1-0 at home this year, defeating Corona del Sol (1-3) 35-18. They are led by Mike Fell, who won his 200th career game in the season opening victory over Valley Vista.

Friday night will bring a matchup between two experienced head coaches and several talented players.

Mountain Pointe will have the task of locking up the quarterback-receiver tandem of Brandon Nunez and Jacobby Dinwiddie. The pair has hooked up for 283 passing yards and one touchdown so far in 2017. As a sophomore, Dinwiddie was a huge part of the Toros offense, catching 70 passes for 1,012 yards and six touchdowns.

Look for a talented secondary, led by Pride seniors Kenny Churchwell, Delano Salgado, Tyre Johnson and Marshawn Gibson to lock down the pair through the air.

On the ground, the Toros have been led by senior tailback Dean Yamada who has tallied 198 yards on 40 carries.

Mountain Pointe also will have to be on the lookout for the running ability of Nunez. The 6-foot-5, 210-pound quarterback has scampered for 63 yards this season, but he showed off his legs in the red zone against Valley Vista, finding the end zone twice.   

If Pride secondary can contain the duo of Nunez and Dinwiddie, the talented trio of running backs from Mountain Pointe should have the opportunity to control the pace of the game like they have all season long.

It’s been a staple of their offense since their first game, when senior Gary Bragg returned from an ACL injury last season with a 131-yard, three-touchdown performance against Sandra Day O’Connor.

Against Chaminade, a top-10 school in California, Bragg was locked up for just 45 yards on 10 carries. But, junior running back Jakim McKinney made his presence known, rushing for 70 yards and two touchdowns.

Another important aspect of Mountain Pointe’s matchup with Mountain View will be the play of quarterback Nick Wallerstedt.

With a stout running game behind him and a big offensive line in front of him, the Pride signal-caller has been able to manage games. He has made throws when he has needed to, but also has used his feet when given the opportunity.

His three-yard quarterback keeper against Chandler put the Pride ahead and they never looked back.  

With a big redemption win over the state champions, the Pride look to be back to form after a tough loss against Chaminade. It still has a tough schedule ahead as Pinnacle and the Ahwatukee bowl both await in the weeks ahead.

Desert Vista vs. Brophy Prep

Desert Vista High School (2-1) made it two wins in a row on Friday with a 44-13 win over Mesa Skyline and this week it will look to make it three as they travel to Brophy Prep (1-3) to take on the Broncos.  

Brophy Prep fell to undefeated Highland this past Friday 14-6 in another close contest, a recurring theme for the Broncos. They squeaked out a 28-27 win against Westview and fell to Desert Ridge by nine points.

While their record may not show it, the Broncos boast a talented roster full of playmakers that head coach Daniel Hinds and his team will have to be on the lookout for. The talent of the Broncos starts in the backfield with quarterback Noah Gonzales.

The 6-foot-2 gunslinger has completed 50 percent of his passes in 2017 for 735 yards and five touchdowns. His only game without 200-plus passing yards came in their season opening loss to Pinnacle.

In his first season under center, Gonzales has found two favorite targets in seniors Xavier Juniel and senior Donovan Arthur. The two receivers have combined for 374 yards and three touchdowns in four games.

But he has also struggled at times, throwing three interceptions in the game against Highland.

This is an area of the game that a strong Desert Vista secondary could take advantage of as the combination of James Stagg, Caleb Humphrey and Larry Davis should stymie the Brophy running game. In both of Desert Vista’s victories season, they have held opponents below 200 rushing yards.

Offensively, the Thunder will look to continue to keep up their high scoring efforts as they are clicking in both the passing and running game.

Since throwing two interceptions against Perry, quarterback Derek Kline has been big for the Thunder. He’s completed over 60 percent of his passes in the past two games and he’s also thrown for seven touchdowns.

That streak should continue against Brophy if the Thunder can avoid turning the ball over, which they have done in the past two games other than a lone fumble against Basha.

Along with Kline, look for senior Keishaud White to have a big impact in their fourth game of the season. He has scored in all three games, both through the air and on the ground. But on Friday he added another facet to his scoring repertoire against Skyline, returning a kickoff 90 yards for a touchdown.

– Contact Sports Editor Greg Macafee at or by phone at 585-610-2344. Follow Greg on Twitter @greg_macafee


Tyre Johnson carries the ball against Chandler Friday night at Austin Field.  |  Photo by Kimberly Carrillo

Mountain Pointe avenges state title loss, upsets Chandler on the road

By Eddie Poe AFN Contributor

From the start, you could tell it weighed heavy on their minds.

After falling in last year’s 6A state championship to Chandler, Mountain Pointe found the best type of redemption on Friday night — knocking off the No.1 team in the state on their own turf.

With a three-headed backfield controlling the running game early on, junior quarterback Nick Wallerstedt remained poised behind a stout offensive line as No. 2 Mountain Pointe stunned No.1 Chandler 24-21 on Friday night at Austin Field.

“I’m so proud of these boys, each and every one of them,” coach Norris Vaughan said.

As he shook hands and received congratulatory hugs from his coaching staff following the game, Vaughan yelled, “This ain’t us!”

He was referring to last week’s game against national power Chaminade Prep (Mission Viejo, Calif.) in which the Pride were unable to overcome a slew of mistakes en route to a loss.

A different Mountain Pointe team showed up on Friday night though.

Just before the end of the first quarter, the Pride (2-1) got things started when Wallerstedt took a keeper in from three yards out. Ten seconds later, Jacob Olsen recovered a fumble by Chandler and ran it in from 12 yards out to give the Pride a 14-0 lead.

On their first drive of the second quarter, Chandler made another costly mistake. The punter was unable to kick the ball away after a high snap and the Pride were gifted the ball on Chandler’s 17-yard line.

A few plays later, Jakim McKinney ran in it from two yards out and there was utter silence from the Chandler faithful. 

“That early momentum carried us,” Wallerstedt said. “It was exactly what we needed.”

Chandler (2-2) didn’t just fall back and fold. After four failed drives to start the game, backup quarterback Billy Bolger (replacing the injured Jacob Conover) began finding seams and the offense received some help in the form of a roughing the passer penalty. 

After a run that put them in the red zone was called back on a holding penalty, the Wolves eventually got on the board on a DeCarlos Brooks touchdown run with 4:37 remaining in the half.

For nearly the entire third quarter, both offenses stalled, unable to move the ball down the field. Driving towards the end of the quarter, Bolger found a receiver open across the middle and he took it 36 yards for a touchdown to cut Mountain Pointe’s lead to 21-14 as the third quarter ended.

Wallerstedt and Mountain Pointe’s backfield trio — Gary Bragg, Delano Salgado, and Marshawn Gibson — wore the Chandler defense down as they marched down the field to start the fourth quarter. Taking nearly seven minutes off the clock, Ben Abercrombie capped off the drive with a 16-yard field goal to give the Pride a 24-14 lead with five and half minutes remaining. 

Bolger and the Wolves didn’t feel the pressure though as they answered with a score of their own, running in a short touchdown to cut the lead back to 24-21 with just under three minutes to go. 

Then, on a handoff out left, the ball fell from Bragg’s hands as he turned up field and the Wolves recovered the fumble. The home crowd was the loudest it had been all game long, while the visiting Mountain Pointe fans were in utter shock. 

Just like a strong team does, the defense picked up the mistake made by the offense. On fourth down and the game on the line, Bolger’s pass was tipped up in the air and Salgado secured it to seal the victory. 

On the ground, the Pride ran for an even 200 yards while Wallerstedt accounted for 79 all-purpose yards and a touchdown.

“We’re still finding out who we are,” Vaughan said. “But this game helps us in the direction of finding it.”

Mountain Pointe will continue their season on the road next week as they travel to Mesa Mountain View.

Mountain Pointe running back Gary Bragg, returning from an ACL injury that kept him out for most of the 2016 season, ran for three touchdowns Friday night against Phoenix Sandra Day O’Connor.   [Photo by Carmen Jollineau]

Mountain Pointe makes early statement in rout of O’Connor

By Eddie Poe, Tribune Contributor | Updated 

Mountain Pointe wasted no time showing why it is the No. 2-ranked high school football team in Arizona.

Gary Bragg and Delano Salgado ran through and around the defense of Phoenix Sandra Day O’Connor with ease on Friday night, cruising to a 46-6 rout at Jack Dillard Stadium in their season opener.

“I’m really proud of the way we came out and played,” coach Norris Vaughan said. “We had a few dropped balls, a few miscues here and there but I thought we played really well.”It looked at first like No.2 Mountain Pointe was going to be faced with a challenge as they were forced to punt the ball away on their first two drives.

The challenge was short-lived as Bragg took a handoff from quarterback Nick Wallerstedt on the following drive, made two O’Connor defensive players miss, and sped down the left side of the field for a 47-yard run.

It later set up Wallerstedt for an 11-yard quarterback draw to score the first points of the game.From that point on, Mountain Pointe grasped hold of the flow of the game and never looked back.“It was good to be able to come out and control the game like we did and go at our own pace,” Braggs said, who finished the game with three rushing touchdowns. On the other side of the ball, the Pride defense mauled opposing quarterback Christian King to the tune of no first downs allowed in the first half.

One of the questions for Mountain Pointe coming into their season opener was whether their defense would present the same type of aggressiveness and force without their star defensive lineman, Matthew Palo-Mao, who was lost for the season to injury. “I wish we had him but we had a number of other guys behind him step up and really perform,” Vaughan said. “A guy goes down, other players step in and do their job. That’s all you can ask for.”

With a week off before their next game, Mountain Pointe will begin preparing for the national stage as they’ll travel to California on Aug. 31 to take on Chaminade High School. The following week, they’ll return home for a matchup with Chandler — a game that’s been marked on their calendar since last season’s state final loss. 

The reality of two early season games on a national stage is crucial for Mountain Pointe’s success in the long run.“[Those] games are definitely going to help us later on in the season,” Wallerstedt said. “We’ll see two of the better teams in the country and after that it’ll just be about treating every game like we’re playing [Chandler] or [Chaminade] because you never know what’s going to happen.” 

Although the preparation for those two matchups will be fairly similar to any other game, there’s no arguing the heightened importance of them. “We always want to play the best teams to start off the season,” Vaughan said. “We think [they] will help us tremendously for the rest of the season.”

“But, they’ll both be just like any other game.”


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.”



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

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

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

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


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

MP’s Pola-Mao named Central Region MVP

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

The 6A Central Region selected its all region team.

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

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

Here is a look at the full team:

6A Conference All-Central Region

MVP: Isaiah Pola-Mao, Mountain Pointe

Offensive MVP: Nick Thomas, Desert Vista

Defensive MVP: Lelon Dillard, Desert Vista



First team

Rashie Hodge Mt. Pointe

Cameron Brice Corona Del Sol

Tyrese Allen Desert Ridge

Second team

Delano Salgado Mountain Pointe

Kohner Cullimore Highland

Gary Bragg Mountain Pointe


First team

Jack Plummer Gilbert

Offensive Line

First team

Eddie Rivas Mountain Pointe

Myles Wilson Desert Vista

Rudy Rauls Mountain Pointe

Uriah Medder Corona Del Sol

Mason Honne Mountain Pointe

Second team

Mckenzie Potterf Desert Vista

Dallin Clement Highland

Matt Fick Corona Del Sol

Nick Omitt Desert Ridge

Ian Baxter Desert Ridge


First team

Keishaud White Desert Vista

David Morales Gilbert

Jake White Desert Vista

Second team

Jared Zimmerman Highland

Dawson Tanner Gilbert

Ricky Pearsall Corona Del Sol


First team

James Stagg Desert Vista

Second team

Garrison Turcotte Gilbert



First team

Antwaun Woodberry Mountain Pointe

Kenny Churchwell Mountain Pointe

Steven Gomez Desert Ridge

Donjae Logan Desert Ridge

Second team

Alijah Gammage Desert Vista

Corvan Otanez Gilbert

Caleb Humphrey Desert Vista

Brad Beaver Desert Ridge

Interior Line

First team

Ashton Dana Highland

Dylan Conner Corona Del Sol

Matthew Pola-Mao Mountain Pointe

Shomari Hayes Mountain Pointe

Second team

Christian Medeiros Desert Ridge

Noah Evan Highland

Garrett Fulton Gilbert

Brett Johnson Desert Vista


First team

Jalen Harris Desert Ridge

Khalif Ravenell Mountain Pointe

Second team

Trey Bussler Corona Del Sol

Dylan Bryan Gilbert


First team

Christian Allen Desert Ridge

Chad Porter Desert Vista

Jacob Clemens Corona Del Sol

Second team

Xaiver Cota Mountain Pointe

Michael Washington Mountain Pointe

Tate Stevens Highland


First team

Riley Erickson Desert Vista

Second team

Tony Decozio Desert Ridge


First team

Kaden Riforgiate Corona Del So

Second team

Austin Mcnamara Highland


First team

Jaydon Brooks Mountain Pointe

Second team

Connor McKernan Gilbert

Long Snapper

First team

Adam Bay Desert Ridge

Second team

Conor Egan Desert Vista

Honorable Mentions

Desert Vista

Tristin Flores, OL

Joe Money, TE

Larry Davis, LB

Nick Lopez, OL

Jared Ostendorp, OL


Sean McCord DB

Braiden Williams DL

Jake Ohara

Hunter Short DB

Jacob Wood LB

Jalen Johnson DB

Tyler Johnson DL

David Fabok DL

Noah Newburgh DB

Danial Castillo WR

Tyler Johnson WR

Jacob Wood RB

Brydon Horne RB

Connor Williams OL

Davis Brown OL

Cody Bartz OL

Jake Kersting QB

Riley Bond OL

Mountain Pointe

Noah Grover Qb

Sky Hinojosa WR

Justice Hudson OL

Alex Vogel OL

Marshawn Gibson DB

Donte Lindsey DB

Jacob Olsen LB

Daniel Pena DT

Dakota Fey P


Garrison Turcotte LB

Tyler Turcotte OL

Garrett Fulton OL

DJ Ruhl DB

Corona Del Sol

Griffin Baker TE

Alex Purcell C

Kaden Riforgiate LB

Jason Staples DE

Brian McCluskey DB

Kobee Marion DB

Desert Ridge

Kylar Day

Khris Broom

Tyler Mcleve

Jason Harris

Connor Goetz

Robert Mancha

Keishaud White #5 of Desert Vista is guarded by linebacker Rashie Hodge #7 of Mountain Pointe during the second 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. [Billy Hardiman/Special to Tribune]

Playoff preview: Mountain Pointe, Desert Vista prepare for first round of 6A playoffs

Posted: Wednesday, November 2, 2016 9:26 am | Updated: 9:53 am, Wed Nov 2, 2016.

The expiration clock has started on the 2016 football season.

There are no more games guaranteed at this point. The prospect of the end can sometimes play havoc with players, especially seniors, as they try too hard to extend their careers as long as possible.

Or the idea of turning in their helmet and shoulder pads after they clear out their lockers can inspire them to play at an even higher level to savor every moment because for many, it is the last time they will play the game.

Whatever effect the sudden-death aspect of the playoffs might have on area teams is about to play out, starting with Friday’s kickoffs.

Top-seeded Mountain Pointe (10-0) hosts No. 16 Cesar Chavez (6-4) while No. 10 Desert Vista (6-4) travels to No. 7 Mountain View (7-3).

Desert Vista and Mountain Pointe are on opposite sides of the bracket, so the 21st Ahwatukee Bowl can only happen if both teams make the state title game on Nov. 26 at University of Phoenix Stadium.

Before any of that can happen, the first week of the postseason awaits.

The top game in all of 6A Conference just might be Desert Vista at Mountain View.

Both teams come in hot with four-game streaks intact and confidence as high has it has been all year long.

Thunder learn from mistakes

The Toros, who are coached by Ohio transplant Mike Fell, opened the year 3-0, then lost three when some injuries along the line took its toll.

They finished with four straight wins, including a 42-35 win over Red Mountain to get it all started right after what was the low point of the season—a 30-0 loss to Skyline to open East Valley Region play.

The Thunder also lost to Skyline in a much closer game, 27-21, when it had a chance to win at the last second, but a fumble inside the Skyline 10-yard line ended comeback hopes.

It’s the kind of mistakes Desert Vista made early in the year, but has cleaned up down the stretch.

“Early in the years we were beating ourselves, shooting ourselves in the foot, against the good teams,” Desert Vista quarterback Nick Thomas said. “We started practicing better and pay more attention to details, and it all came together.”

Thunder coach Dan Hinds, who is in 12th playoff in 15 years of coaching the program, feels confident the team will be ready for the Toros.

“These guys believe in each other and that’s just important as the game plan,” said Hinds, who has led the programs to two state title appearances (2007 and 2011) and one title.

“We’ve preached brotherhood since we left for team camp, and it really paid off when this team could have been down and out,” Hinds added. “Instead, they stuck together and fought through some to get to this point.”

The teams have met seven times since 2004 with the Toros holding a 4-3 advantage, but the Thunder have won three in a row including last year’s 61-43 victory.

Pride has big advantage

The Mountain Pointe and Chavez series is a little more one-sided.

The Pride are 4-0 against Chavez since 2004 with the last meeting coming in 2014, a 48-6 win for the Pride at Chavez.

Chavez finished No. 19 in the power rankings but earned the 16th and final spot as the Metro Region champion.

“They have some really good players,” Pride coach Norris Vaughan said. “They have a really big running. He’s the size of NFL back. If he gets a head of steam, he is tough to bring down.”

Mike Rogers is listed at 6-foot-4 and 243 pounds. The preeminent big back in the NFL is LaGarrett Blount and he is 6-foot and 250.

Rogers has rushed for 1,855 yards with 22 touchdowns with 1,510 yards, and 20 of those scores came in the final six weeks against other Metro Region opponents.

But he’ll be up against one of the best defenses in the state.

Mountain Pointe has three shutouts this season, and two other games where the opposition has scored a touchdown or less. For the season, opponents have scored an average of 11.1 points a game with some of that coming against subs.

While the identity of the offense has changed since injuries took away top running back Gary Bragg and quarterback Noah Grover, the defense has accepted the challenge of having the outcome dictated by its level of play.

“The coaches told us it was up to us to get the job done,” junior safety Kenny Churchwell. “We have to stop them, and get the ball back to the offense and we to score when we get a turnover.”

The offense opened up in the season-finale win over Gilbert as sophomore quarterback Nick Wallerstedt had his best game of his three starts.

Mountain Pointe senior Rashie Hodge Jr., who has averaged 122.2 yards a game over the second half of the season, continues to break off big runs and grind out games.

Wallerstedt was 10 of 15 for 180 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions. He also had four rushes for 78 yards, including a 37-yard score in the fourth quarter against Gilbert.

“He’s getting more comfortable and we opened it up for him,” Pride coach Norris Vaughan said. “There are going to be some drives and games where we are going to need him to make plays and he has shown he can do it.”

The Pride have been the consensus No. 1 ever since topping No. 2 Chandler in September. After finishing with its fourth undefeated season, making the semifinals for seventh time in eight years won’t be enough.

A championship has been the goal from the start and continues to be the big-picture goal while the team focuses on each week of the four-game playoff journey individually.

“It’s going to be tough, but they’ve showed up and played every week,” Vaughan said prior to the Gilbert game. “We feel like if we play our best game then it is going to be hard to beat us, but penalties and turnovers change a game.

“As long as we limit some of that stuff we will be in a position to win the game at the end.”

– 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.


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Staff Writer,





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.