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
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.