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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.”

 

 

Churchwell Ready To Be A Leader On “Angry” Pride

The Mountain Pointe Pride are known for their punishing defense, and they were among the best in 2016 with Isaiah Pola-Mao leading the way. Pola-Mao is now at USC, but the other Pride safety from that defense, Kenny Churchwell, is hoping to pick up where the MP defense left off.

“(Pola-Mao) helped me as a player and a coach,” Churchwell said. “He helped me change my attitude because I was hot-headed.  I can’t lie – I was hot-headed. I turned into a calm, patient, ready to hit somebody…take all my energy off that. He taught me a lot, and I’m ready to show it to the next person at Mountain Pointe.” 

Churchwell said his chemistry with Pola-Mao made it so they always knew where the other one was on the field without having to say a word. It was a special bond, and he sees something similar being formed with senior defensive back/slot receiver Delano Salgado.

Churchwell is also channelling former Mountain Pointe running back/linebacker Rashie Hodge Jr. as a leader and sees a strong senior group ready to lead the Pride.

“I’m trying to be the best, one of the best, to ever come out of Mountain Pointe,” Churchwell said. “It’s not just me as a leader, we have Delano Salgado, we’ve got (quarterback) Nick Wallerstedt,..We have a lot of people and a lot of weapons. We are ready for the season.”

Recruiting-wise, the Mountain Pointe safety holds offers from Arizona, Arizona State, Cal, Utah, Washington State,  Wyoming, Boise State, Colorado State and Hawaii.

The Pride are hungrier than ever after making an appearance in the 6A state championship game last year but falling to the Chandler Wolves. The group is laser-focused and return plenty of aforementioned talent as well as running back Gary Bragg, who’s season ended after an ACL injury five games into the season. 

“We changed mentally and physically. We’re tired of getting second place, we’re tired of getting close to the championship and not winning it,” Churchwell said.  “We’re angry. We’re ready to play. We’re all tired, and we’re going to step up as leaders – me, Nick, Delano, (defensive back Marshawn Gibson). We’re going to step up as a team, and we’re going to win. I promise.”

Mountain Pointe begins their 2017 season on Friday at Sandra Day O’Connor. 

Pride Without Another Star?

azcentral’s Richard Obert reported that the Pride will be without Isaiah’s younger brother, junior defensive tackle Matthew Pola-Mao after an “undisclosed injury.” Pola-Mao had 52 tackles and six tackles for loss last year as a sophomore and led a dominant defensive line with Shomari Hayes.

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

Arizona Sports Awards Big Schools Football Athlete of Year finalists: T.J. Green, Isaiah Pola-Mao, Brock Purdy

, azcentral sportsPublished 5:42 p.m. MT Dec. 10, 2016 | Updated 12:48 p.m. MT Dec. 11, 2016

The Arizona Sports Awards, presented by Arby’s, will honor an Athlete of the Year in every sport at the spring 2017 event.

At the end of each season, azcentral sports will announce three finalists for each Athlete of the Year award. The finalists are listed alphabetically.

All three will be invited to the awards show where the winner will be announced live. More information on the spring 2017 event will be announced soon.

April 30, 2017

ASU Gammage   |   Doors at 7pm, Show at 8pm   |   Speaker: Larry Fitzgerald

 

Isaish-Sports-Awards-3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Phoenix Mountain Pointe safety and wide receiver Isaiah Pola-Mao is a finalist for the Arizona Sports Awards, presented by Arby’s, Big Schools Football Athlete of the Year. (Photo: Tom Tingle/azcentral sports)

Isaiah Pola-Mao

School: Phoenix Mountain Pointe

Year: Senior

Positions: Safety, wide receiver

Pola-Mao was a big-play receiver, but he left a legacy on defense, a three-time All-Arizona selection at safety. He had seven interceptions as a sophomore, four his junior year and 10 this season, including six in the last three playoff games.

He returned two of his three interceptions for touchdowns in the 47-21 6A Conference quarterfinal win over Mesa Desert Ridge. He had an interception in the 21-14 semifinal win over Mesa Red Mountain and two more in the state final against Chandler, a 37-17 loss, in which he injured his shoulder.

“I thought he was the best player in the state,” said Mountain Pointe coach Norris Vaughan, who believes Pola-Mao will be playing in the NFL some day.

Pola-Mao, an imposing figure at 6-foot-4, 200 pounds, was arguably the biggest hitter in the state. It was hard to get around him. He had 100 tackles, 31 solo, this year. He broke up 18 passes and caused two fumbles, including one in the championship game.

On offense, Pola-Mao had his biggest season, catching 27 passes for 640 yards (23.7 yards per catch) and nine TDs. His performance in the first meeting with Chandler was off the charts. He caught two TD passes, set up another with a diving grab near the goal line and intercepted a pass in the 52-7 win.

Mountain Pointe was ranked among the top 10 teams in the nation most of the season with Pola-Mao the heart and soul of the team.

“It was awesome,” Pola-Mao said of the season. “If I could redo it, I’d do it. I was glad I could play the past few years with this team.

“The interceptions, honestly, it started up front with the D-line, with Khalif (Ravenell), Shomari (Hayes) and my brother (Matthew). They get to the quarterback and cause pressure. I’m just doing my job.”

State championship: Opposing coaches weigh-in on 6A title game

Posted: Friday, November 25, 2016 1:10 pm

By the time a 10-week regular season and a handful of playoffs games are played there is a pretty good log book of the tendencies of each team.

Leading up to a state title game Hudl is run on a continuous loop as the coaching staffs try to gain any advantage.

Sometimes an outside perspective can provide some insight that those too close to the game can’t see or won’t say.

We talked to two 6A coaches who played either Mountain Pointe and/or Chandler this year. They’ve had common opponents and seen enough film on both teams to have an idea of what to expect in Saturday’s title game.

Here some of their perspectives:

* “Mountain Pointe puts everything on their offensive line. There are games where they throw the ball five or six times, and when they do pass they just do it for show. It’s a big line and they have been great, but if you stop the run then are they ready to get it done with the pass?”

* So what do you do? Do you load the box and make you beat with the pass? No. 6 (Jaydon Brooks) and No. 9 (Isaiah Pola-Mao) are going to win most one-one-one matchups.”

* The Mountain Pointe offense changed with the young quarterback (Nick Wallerstedt), and they kept winning. That’s pretty impressive. How much do they use him?”

* You have to establish the run against that Mountain Pointe defense. You are not going to beat them with the pass, at least not consistently. They are too good.”

* Chandler’s offense is the best in the state. Their skills guys are great, but no one talks about the line enough. They give the skills guys a chance because they good and physical. They are one team that matches up well up front with Mountain Pointe.”

* The Chandler defense is beatable, but they are playing better. They are getting to the ball carrier in groups. They are playing with big leads so they can take chances and their mistakes are hidden a little bit.”

* “The Chandler offense has so much momentum. Their confidence has skyrocketed. They are doing all of their damage on first and second down. You have to get them in third and long or third and five. They haven’t faced that a lot lately. Make them earn and keep them from running wild on first and second down with (TJ) Green and (Ryan) Johnson.”

* “Chandler can get you so many ways it forces the defense to pretty vanilla because you can’t defend all of those guys, the running backs with (Johnny) Johnson and No. 18 (Gunner Romney) on the outside. No real weakness shows up on film.”

* “Mountain Pointe has to score early or Chandler just might roll them like they have everyone else. Mountain Pointe will get theirs, but man Chandler is explosive.”

* “If it is close at halftime, Mountain Pointe’s staff might be the best at making adjustments. They are very good at correcting things and taking advantage of any mistakes you’ve made.”

 
 

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6A Championship Preview: A Heavy Weight Bout

You almost had the sense that this day would come back on week three of the high school football season. Mountain Pointe surprised the state with just how good they are with a 52-7 win over Chandler. It just feels right that these two powerhouse teams would meet again and give us what I think many expected the first time these two teams met.

Mountain Pointe has been the class of Arizona and rightfully so as they have one of the best defenses we’ve seen in quite some time in terms of talent, size and skill. Despite working through injuries on offense, they have enough athletes and the big hogs on the offensive line to continue to be a threat on offense.

Key Matchup: Chandler center Caleb Medina vs Mountain Pointe defensive tackle Matthew Pola-Mao.

This will be a big time battle in the trenches when you look at the offensive and defensive lines for both teams. One that I am very excited to see is big Chandler Caleb Medina up against the stud sophomore Matthew Pola-Mao on the interior of the defensive line. A huge part of the Chandler offense is their inside run from the spread formation handing the rock to T.J. Green and Ryan Johnson. I have been at games this season where Green has gone untouched at the point of attack because of how great a job the Chandler interior line does led by Medina. Mountain Pointe attempting to take away the run, especially between the tackles will be a big key.

If Mountain Pointe wins, it will be because… The own the ball and time of possession on offense. While Chandler’s defense is much improved since these two teams played last, the Pride owning the ball on offense will keep the game played at their pace. While their defense being on the field is anything but a liability, keeping Chandler’s offense off the field can only help your cause.

If Chandler wins, it will be because…They start fast. All I can say is wow from what I saw in person to what Chandler did to Brophy the second to last week of the regular season and then to Desert Vista in the second round of the playoffs. Two very good teams were smacked and didn’t know what hit them and the game was over before it felt like it had even started. 97-7 is what Chandler outscored Brophy and Desert Vista in tge FIRST HALF of those two games combined. They play much better with a lead and are very hard to keep up with after getting out to fast starts. They also have the tendency in games I’ve seen them lose over the last few years to force the issue and get away form their game when playing from behind.

Kickoff for the 6A state title between Mountain Pointe and Chandler will be at 7pm Saturday from University of Phoenix Stadium.

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

Defense/Special Teams/Misc.

* Mt. Pointe safety Isaiah Pola-Mao returned 2 INTs for TDs versus Desert Ridge.

* Mt. Pointe’s defense scored 28 points on 4 turnovers versus Desert Ridge.

See full article here:

There is no bigger stage than the playoffs. See who helped their team advance.

JASON JEWELL

Thursday at 9:02 PM

Player of the Week

* In Perry’s overtime win versus Hamilton, junior QB Brock Purdy threw for 330 yards and 6 TDs, rushed for 132 yards and 1 score and caught a TD pass.

Team of the Week

* #13 seed Red Mountain upset Brophy to move on to the semi-finals.

Quarterbacks

* American Leadership’s Dallin Edwards threw for 175 yards and 2 TDs and ran for 142 yards and 1 TD against Florence.

* Hamilton’s Tyler Shough threw for 268 yards and 5 TDs against Perry.

* Chandler’s Jacob Conover threw 3 TDs and ran for another against Desert Vista.

* Alex Bell from Sabino threw for 329 yards and 3 TDs against Winslow.

* Cienega’s Jamarye Joiner had 274 yards passing, 83 yards rushing and 2 total TDs versus Mesquite.

* Rhett Rodriguez threw for 298 yards and 1 TD and added 63 yards and 4 scores on the ground against Sunrise Mountain.

* Sunrise Mountain senior Chase Cord threw 4 TDs against Catalina Foothills.

* Bagdad’s Israel Loveall threw 5 TDs in the 1A title game against Williams.

* Saguaro Max Massingale accounted for 5 TDs against Peoria.

Running Backs

* Red Mountain junior Lance Lawson had 210 yards and 5 TDs versus Brophy.

* Perry’s Kenny Fultz rushed for 181 yards and 1 TD against Hamilton.

* Hamilton junior Jawhar Jordan ran for 208 yards and 2 TDs against Perry.

* Mario Padilla from Salpointe ran for 212 yards and 2 TDs against Marcos.

* Jace Koester from Queen CReek had 200 yards and 3 TDs against Ironwood Ridge.

* Centennial junior Zidane Thomas ran for 3 scores against Desert Edge.

Receivers

* Hamilton’s Chance Brewington caught 6 passes or 125 yars and 2 scores against Perry.

* Chris Crescione from Higley had 105 yards and 2 TDs against Cactus.

* Drew Dixon from Sabino had 2 TD receptions and had an INT on defense versus Winslow.

Defense/Special Teams/Misc.

* Mt. Pointe safety Isaiah Pola-Mao returned 2 INTs for TDs versus Desert Ridge.

* Mt. Pointe’s defense scored 28 points on 4 turnovers versus Desert Ridge.

* Brandon Ruiz from Williams Field kicked a school record, 58 yard FG against Marana.

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

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

East Valley Tribune | Varsity Extra

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

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

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

An emergency cropped up Friday.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Box score

Mountain Pointe 21, Red Mountain 14

RM 0 0 14 0–14

MP 7 7 0 7–21

Scoring

First

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

Second

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

Third

RM – Klafter 25 pass from Duffy (Huffman kick)

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

Fourth

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

Team stats

                    RM               MP

First downs     11               14

Rush-yards    32-159        29-262

Comp-Att-INT  6-17-0        4-10-0

Pass yards      129               97

Total yards     288              359

Fumbles/lost    2/2             3/1

Penalties         6-33            4-30

Individual stats

Rushing

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

Passing

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

Receiving

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

Missed FG

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

 
 

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