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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.



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


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


RJ Hollis  –  Hawaii


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


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


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


Jack Smith  –  Arizona State


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

GameNight: Palo-Mao sets record, Pride move on to semifinals

Posted: Friday, November 11, 2016 12:04 am | Updated: 12:37 am, Fri Nov 11, 2016.

Up the road at Sun Devil Stadium, the college team that normally wears maroon and gold chose to dress in black Thursday, a reminder of a season killed, in large part, by injuries at key positions.

Down in Ahwatukee, the high school team that normally wears maroon and gold opted for black, as well.

And Mountain Pointe, like the Arizona State program it models its uniforms after, has been beset by a spate of injuries in 2016 that once threatened to derail the Pride’s potential.

But the way Mountain Pointe has continued to stomp on opponents, regardless of who it’s missing, the mood inside Karl Kiefer Stadium this year has been anything but funereal.

Despite playing without its starting quarterback and leading rusher for the fifth consecutive game, top-seeded Mountain Pointe cruised on its way to staying undefeated, beating No. 8 Desert Ridge 47-21 at home Thursday in the 6A quarterfinals.

Safety Isaiah Pola-Mao had three interceptions on the evening, returning two of them for touchdowns for Mountain Pointe, which advances to the state semifinals for the seventh time in the last eight seasons. The Pride will face No. 13 Red Mountain next Friday at McClintock High.

Mountain Pointe plans to wear its black jerseys throughout its postseason run, Pola-Mao said, in the hope of catching the magic of the 2013 Pride team that went 14-0 on its way to a state championship.

“We remember 2013, when they wore black every playoff game,” Pola-Mao said. “We were like, ‘They made a statement, they got it done. Let’s do the same thing.’”

Pola-Mao nearly single-handedly got it done Thursday for Mountain Pointe. The 6-foot-4 senior picked off Desert Ridge passes on consecutive possessions in the second quarter, taking each back for touchdowns to stake Mountain Pointe to a 27-3 lead.

The interceptions were Pola-Mao’s first since Oct. 7, with his second pick breaking former teammate Jalen Brown’s school record of 16 in a career.

“It had been on my mind every game,” Pola-Mao said.

Pola-Mao added a third interception in the fourth quarter, and fellow defensive back Antwaun Woodberry also recorded a pick-six Thursday, marking Mountain Pointe’s final score of the game.

Pride coach Norris Vaughan said injured quarterback Noah Grover, who is nearing a return after breaking his leg Oct. 7, could be ready next week to retake the starting job from sophomore Nick Wallerstedt, who had an 88-yard touchdown run Thursday.

But Mountain Pointe (12-0) has hardly missed a beat in Grover’s absence, just as it kept churning after losing running back Gary Bragg for the season to a knee injury in September.

“We don’t care (about the injuries),” Vaughan said. “All we care about is to win the tournament, survive and advance. That’s the only thing that matters, no matter how you do it.”

On the other side, Desert Ridge (8-4) is eliminated in the quarterfinals a season after reaching the Division I state championship game in 2015.

“It’s hard because I have four three-year starters as seniors, so to lose them is super tough,” Desert Ridge coach Jeremy Hathcock said. “…We’re not a passing team. When you get out of your element against a team like (Mountain Pointe), it’s tough.

“But there’s not a lot to be ashamed of. We’re a good football team that just didn’t get it at the end. It was a hard year for us all around but the kids gave us a lot of effort, and that’s all you can ask for.”

* Killian is a Tempe-based freelancer.

Box score

Mountain Pointe 47, Desert Ridge 21

DR 3  3  8  7 – 21

MP 7 20 6 14 – 47



MP – Ravenell 17 fumble return (Abercrombie kick), 7:51

DR – Decozio 27 FG, 0:32


MP – Hodge 1 run (Abercrombie kick), 10:41

MP – Pola-Mao 20 INT return (kick failed), 5:57

MP – Pola-Mao 56 INT return (Abercrombie kick), 4:16

DR – Decozio 24 FG, 0:01


MP – Abercrombie 25 FG, 7:43

DR – Logan 54 run (Run good), 7:02

MP – Abercrombie 24 FG, 3:43


MP – Wallerstedt 88 run (Abercrombie kick), 7:32

DR – Winner 9 pass from Purnell (Decozio kick), 3:58

MP – Woodberry 42 INT return (Abercrombie kick), 1:27

Team stats

                               DR                  MP

First downs            14                    6

Rush-yards         31-125           32-270     

Comp-Att-Int      15-40-4            3-4-0

Pass yards            173                 19

Total yards            298                289

Fumbles/lost         1-1                  0-0

Penalties              6-65               9-74

Individual stats


DR – Logan 16-99, Wright 6-17, Brown 4-6, Schmidt 2-11, Fowler 2-(-13), Elliott 1-5. MP – Hodge 16-135, Wallerstedt 8-109, Salgado 6-19, Brooks 2-7.


DR – Fowler 7-21-0-60, Purnell 8-19-1-113. MP – Wallerstedt 3-4-0-19.


DR – Logan 5-38, Harris 3-35, Wright 2-37, Winner 2-30, Simonis 1-16, Broom 1-11, Brown 1-4. MP – Brooks 2-14, Pola-Mao 1-5.


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Mountain Pointe defensive back Isaiah Pola-Mao (9) breaks up a pass and intercepts the ball during the football game between Mountain Pointe and Mountain View at Mountain Pointe High School on Friday, Nov. 6, 2015.   [David Jolkovski/Tribune]

Pola-Mao nears Brown’s school record

Posted: Wednesday, October 12, 2016 5:08 pm

Mountain Pointe has been pretty secure at safety the last seven years as the careers of Jalen Brown and Isaiah Pola-Mao overlapped.

The Pride have had the one of the top, if not the best, safety in the state roaming the back half of their defense for seven years seasons.

Brown is getting the most playing time of his career as a wide receiver at Oregon while Pola-Mao attempts to lead the Pride to a state title in his senior just like the man before him.

“He was the man, and I looked up to him, but at the same time I wanted to be better than him,” Pola-Mao said.

They are both tall, lanky and had had a great ability to track balls in the air and it is no coincidence that they rank No. 1 and No. 2 in school history in interceptions.

Brown left after the 2013 season with 16 interceptions in his four years on varsity, and after last week’s interception against Highland Pola-Mao now has four on the year and 15 in his three-year career.

“I was looking at the record books when I first got here and I saw that one and I wanted to break it,” said Pola-Mao, who looks to be heading to a Pac-12 school just like Brown after this season.

Pola-Mao said one of the reasons he is able to track the ball so well is because of his time at wide receiver.

“I was always a receiver first,” he said. “So I just flipped sides on defense. In my mind set I am still a receiver and it’s my job to go and get the ball.”

Despite being a frontrunner for player of the East Valley and being one of the state’s top recruits, Pola-Mao has not received an invitation to one of the major All-American showcase games around the country.

He has seemed to brush it off after accepting an invite to play in the Polynesian Bowl in Hawaii in January. This will be the first year for the game, which will be held Jan. 21.

“I’m excited about it,” he said. “I’m proud of my heritage and this is a great honor.”

– 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.

Pride representing Arizona at Oregon State!  |  

Football factories: High schools producing college talent

, azcentral sports2:37 p.m. MST September 29, 2016

Many high schools in Arizona have been sending players to the next level for years. In fact, this season, 37 Arizona high schools have more than one former player on FBS college football team rosters. We rank each high school with at least two former players at the next level. (Note: Data includes players only at the FBS, or Football Bowl Subdivision level.) Where does your school stand?


1. Chandler Hamilton (14)

  • Arizona: Kyeler Burke, safety, 6-11, 174, freshman
  • Texas A&M: Qualen Cunningham, defensive line, 6-3, 240, junior
  • Oregon: Reggie Daniels, defensive back, 6-1, 205, senior
  • California: A.J. Greathouse, cornerback, 6-0, 195, junior
  • Army: Bryce Holland, offensive line, 6-2, 285, junior
  • Arizona: Malcolm Holland, cornerback, 5-11, 182, freshman
  • Arizona: Jalen Jenkins, safety, 5-10, 185, freshman
  • Kansas: Kwamie Lassiter II, wide receiver, 5-11, 165, freshman
  • Notre Dame:  Cole Luke,    cornerback, 5-11, 195, senior
  • Oregon State: Trent Moore, offensive line, 6-4, 297, sophomore
  • Stanford: J.J. Parson, cornerback, 5-10, 173, freshman
  • Vanderbilt: Caleb Peart, linebacker, 6-1, 234, freshman
  • Wisconsin: Garrett Rand, defensive end, 6-2, 274, freshman
  • Stanford: Casey Tucker, offensive line, 6-6, 301, junior

2. Phoenix Mountain Pointe (13)

  • Oregon: Jalen Brown, wide receiver, 6-1, 200, sophomore
  • Georgia State: Cloves Campbell, defensive back, 6-1, 205, senior
  • Utah: Nick Carman, offensive line, 6-3, 276, freshman
  • UAB: Natrell Curtis, offensive line, 6-3, 335, freshman
  • Colorado: Xavier Cochrane, wide receiver, 5-9, 170, sophomore
  • ASU: Mitchell Fraboni, long snapper, 6-2, 217, junior
  • Oregon State: Timmy Hernandez, wide receiver, 6-0, 195, sophomore
  • Hawaii: R.J. Hollis, offensive line, 6-4, 295, senior
  • UCLA: Kenny Lacy, offensive line, 6-4, 305, junior
  • Oregon State: Paul Lucas, wide receiver, 5-11, 188, sophomore
  • Oregon State: Landry Payne, safety, 6-0, 195, junior
  • Oregon State: Wesley Payne, linebacker, 5-10, 215, junior
  • ASU: Jack Smith, athlete, 6-1, 185, freshman

3. Peoria Centennial (12)

  • California: Kamryn Bennett, offensive line, 6-3, 295, sophomore
  • Old Dominion: Reed Buce, long snapper, 6-2, 209, junior
  • Arizona: Layth Friekh, offensive line, 6-5, 282, junior
  • Purdue: Tanner Hawthorne, offensive line, 6-6, 275, freshman
  • UNLV: Troy Hawthorne, defensive back, 6-3, 210, senior
  • Stanford: Zach Hoffpauir, safety, 6-0, 202, senior
  • ASU: Marshal Nathe, offensive line, 6-3, 290, freshman
  • Wyoming: Jalen Ortiz, defensive back, 5-10,    196, junior
  • Arizona: Shawn Poindexter, wide receiver, 6-5, 210, junior
  • Arizona: Isaac Steele, cornerback, 6-1, 171, freshman
  • Colorado: Brett Tonz, defensive end, 6-3, 285, freshman
  • Nebraska: Dedrick Young II, linebacker, 6-1, 220, sophomore

3. Chandler (12)

  • Utah State: Devin Centers, defensive back, 5-9, 200, senior
  • Oregon State: Darell Garretson, quarterback, 6-0, 209, junior
  • Colorado: Justin Jan, wide receiver, 6-3, 210, freshman
  • ASU: N’Keal Harry, wide receiver, 6-4, 200, freshman
  • ASU: Jordan Hoyt, defensive line, 6-4, 280, junior
  • ASU: Chase Lucas, 6-0, 170, defensive back, freshman
  • ASU: Tyler McClure, offensive line, 6-1, 271, junior
  • Oregon State: Mason Moran, quarterback, 6-3, 185, freshman
  • ASU: Bryce Perkins, quarterback, 6-3, 215, freshman
  • Oregon State: Hamilcar Rashed Jr., linebacker, 6-4, 222, freshman
  • Memphis: Dustin Woodard, offensive line, 6-2, 285, freshman
  • San Diego State: Kyree Woods, cornerback, 6-0, 175, freshman

5. Scottsdale Chaparral (10)

  • New Mexico State: Josh Aganon, wide receiver, 5-10, 185, junior
  • Virginia: Connor Brewer, quarterback, 6-2, 195, senior
  • ASU: Ryan Bright, wide receiver, 6-5, 190, freshman
  • Massachusetts: Jordin Hamilton, cornerback, 5-10, 172, junior
  • Arizona: Cody Ippolito, linebacker, 6-2, 248, senior
  • Arizona: Davonte’ Neal, cornerback, 5-10, 178, senior
  • Boise State: Jake Roh, tight end, 6-3, 227, junior
  • Arizona: Keenan Walker, offensive line, 6-5, 283, freshman
  • ASU: Tyler Whiley, defensive back, 6-0, 210, sophomore
  • Arizona: Trevor Wood, tight end, 6-5, 258, sophomore

5. Scottsdale Saguaro (10)

  • UNLV: Aaron Borg, linebacker, 6-1, 225, junior
  • Miami: Jordan Butler, long snapper, 5-9, 190, sophomore
  • Boise State: Julian Carter, wide receiver, 6-2, 200, freshman
  • Navy: Rob Dusz, nose guard, 6-0, 287, senior
  • UNLV: Andrew Erbes, offensive line, 6-2, 310, junior
  • Texas A&M: Christian Kirk, wide receiver, 5-11, 200, sophomore
  • Wisconsin: Karé Lyles, quarterback, 6-0, 214, freshman
  • Washington: Byron Murphy, defensive back, 5-11, 170, freshman
  • Purdue: Jalen Neal, offensive line, 6-8, 315, junior
  • California: Luke Rubenzer, safety, 6-0, 195, junior

7. Phoenix Brophy Prep (9)

  • Oregon: Devon Allen, wide receiver, 6-0, 185, junior
  • ASU: Frederick Gammage, wide receiver, 5-11. 185, senior
  • Stanford: A.T. Hall, offensive line, 6-5, 295, junior
  • Stanford: C.J. Keller, long snapper, 6-3, 210, junior
  • USC: Connor Murphy, defensive end, 6-7, 255, freshman
  • Colorado: Isaiah Oliver, defensive back, 6-1, 190, sophomore
  • Arizona: Donald Reiter, long snapper, 5-10, 254, freshman
  • ASU: Owen Rogers, safety, 6-1, 190, sophomore
  • Army: Ryan Velez, running back, 5-11, 195, freshman

8. Chandler Basha (7)

  • ASU: J.D. Alexander, tight end, 6-1, 212, freshman
  • ASU: Manuel Harris, wide receiver, 6-1, 172, freshman
  • Arizona: Nate Phillips, wide receiver, 5-7, 186, senior
  • Navy: Ronnie Querry, long snapper, 6-1, 208, junior
  • Arizona: Brandon Rutt, linebacker, 6-1, 215, sophomore
  • San Jose State: Evan Sarver, offensive line, 6-5, 297, senior
  • Arizona: Zach Werlinger, quarterback, 6-1, 188, sophomore

9. Phoenix Desert Vista (6)

  • LSU: Connor Culp, kicker, 5-11, 186, freshman
  • Utah: J.J. Dielman, offensive line, 6-5, 300, senior
  • Navy: Dylan Fischer, nose guard, 6-2, 307, junior
  • Oregon: Jalen Jelks, defensive line, 6-6, 268, sophomore
  • ASU: Drew McIntyre, athlete, 6-1, 220, freshman
  • New Mexico State: Peyton Theisler, punter, 5-8, 160, freshman

9. Gilbert Perry (6)

  • BYU: Mitch Harris, long snapper, 6-4, 215, freshman
  • BYU: Chandon Herring, offensive line, 6-7, 270, freshman
  • New Mexico State: Andrew Kenney, long snapper, 6-0, 220, senior
  • San Jose State: Deano Motes, offensive line, 6-5, 278, freshman
  • Washington: Taelon Parson, wide receiver, 6-1, 194, junior
  • Stanford: Lane Veach, linebacker, 6-6, 239, junior

11. Tucson Salpointe Catholic (5)

  • SMU: Carlos Carroll, linebacker, 6-3, 238, junior
  • Arizona: Cam Denson, wide receiver, 5-11, 187, junior
  • SMU: Travis Fister, offensive line, 6-2, 274, junior
  • Kentucky: Dylan Greenberg, offensive line, 6-2, 302, junior
  • Arizona: Justin Holt, defensive tackle, 6-2, 285, freshman

11. Vail Cienega (5)

  • Arizona: Matt Aragon, punter, 6-5, 211, freshman
  • Navy: Daniel Gonzales, linebacker, 6-2, 240, senior
  • Army: Christian Poe, wide receiver, 6-3, 190, sophomore
  • Army: Edgar Poe, wide receiver, 6-4, 216, senior
  • Hawaii: Jalen Rogers, defensive back, 6-1, 200, senior

11. Scottsdale Notre Dame Prep (5)

  • ASU: Grant Martinez, tight end, 6-5, 235, junior
  • Colorado: Jordan Gehrke, quarterback, 6-1, 200, senior
  • Arizona: Nick Reinhardt, long snapper, 6-1, 240, sophomore
  • Michigan: Brendan White, wide receiver, 6-1, 191, sophomore
  • Arizona: Parker Zellers, defensive line, 6-1, 247, junior

11. Glendale Mountain Ridge (5)

  • San Diego State: Turner Bernard, long snapper, 6-1, 200, freshman
  • Southern Mississippi: Cody Block, long snapper, 6-0, 215, junior
  • Boise State: Austin Cottrell, wide receiver, 6-2, 202, junior
  • San Jose State: Troy Kowalski, offensive line, 6-5, 293, freshman
  • Utah State: Brandon Pada, long snapper 5-11, 220, freshman

15. Mesa Red Mountain (4)

  • Utah State: Ethan Cortazzo, wide receiver, 6-0, 195, junior
  • BYU: Quin Ficklin, offensive line, 6-3, 280, sophomore
  • San Jose State: Billy Freeman, tight end, 6-3, 231, senior
  • Arizona: Josh McCauley, offensive line, 6-3, 266, freshman

15. Scottsdale Desert Mountain (4)

  • Houston: Kyle Allen, quarterback, 6-3, 210, junior
  • Oklahoma: Mark Andrews, wide receiver, 6-5, 250, sophomore
  • Arizona: Christian Boettcher, offensive line, 6-2, 285, sophomore
  • Idaho: D.J. Olmstead, defensive back, 5-11, 184, junior

15. Oro Valley Ironwood Ridge (4)

  • Arizona: Tyler Grammar, safety, 5-10, 190, senior
  • Arizona: Jake Matthews, linebacker, 6-3, 230, senior
  • New Mexico State: Kennon Nunez, long snapper, 6-2, 208, freshman
  • Air Force: Tyler Williams, wide receiver, 5-10, 185, junior

15. Tucson Sabino (4)

  • Navy: Marcus Edwards, nose guard, 6-4, 285, freshman
  • Arizona: Albert Green, safety, 5-10, 207, freshman
  • Florida: Andrew Mike, offensive line, 6-6, 301, sophomore
  • Army: Jeremy Timpf, linebacker, 6-1, 230, senior

15. Gilbert Higley (4)

  • ASU: Quinn Bailey, offensive line, 6-5, 311, sophomore
  • Nevada: Nick Colson, tight end, 6-4, 220, freshman
  • ASU: Trent Gilbert, wide receiver, 6-2, 186, freshman
  • ASU: Michael Tate, offensive line, 6-3, 280, freshman

15. Tucson (4)

  • New Mexico State: Austin Perkins, defensive back, 5-9, 175, freshman
  • San Diego State: Antonio Rosales, offensive lineman, 6-4, 295, junior
  • TCU: Markell Simmons, safety, 6-1, 200, sophomore
  • Alabama: Levi Wallace, defensive back, 6-0, 170, junior

21. Mesa Mountain View (3)

  • ASU: Jacom Brimhall, running back, 5-8, 185, junior
  • ASU: Brandon Mathews, linebacker, 6-0, 216, senior
  • BYU: Cody Stewart, defensive back, 6-3, 191, junior

21. Gilbert Mesquite (3)

  • Eastern Michigan: Juan Giraldo, defensive back, 5-11, 202, junior
  • ASU: Kody Kohl, tight end, 6-3, 235, senior
  • New Mexico State: Roy Lopez, defensive line, 6-2, 290, freshman

21. Paradise Valley (3)

  • Washington: Daniel Bridge-Gadd, quarterback, 6-2, 199, freshman
  • North Carolina State: Ryan Finley, quarterback, 6-4, 200, sophomore
  • Idaho: Patrick Johnson, offensive line, 6-2, 290, sophomore

21. Phoenix Horizon (3)

  • Baylor: Harrison Fox, offensive line, 6-2, 300, junior
  • Utah: Jake Grant, offensive line, 6-3, 290, freshman
  • UNLV: Dalton Sneed, quarterback, 6-0, 195, freshman

21. Gilbert (3)

  • UNLV: Will Kreitler, offensive line, 6-0, 295, senior
  • ASU: Steven Miller, offensive line, 6-5, 310, freshman
  • BYU: Young Tanner, quarterback, 6-0, 190, sophomore

21. Peoria Liberty (3)

  • Marshall: Deyton Jackson, wide receiver, 5-11, 174, freshman
  • New Mexico State: Tyler Rogers, quarterback, 6-3, 218, senior
  • Utah State: Travis Seefeldt, nose guard, 6-1, 305, senior

27. Anthem Boulder Creek (2)

  • Arizona: Nathan Eldridge, offensive line, 6-3, 290, freshman
  • Arizona: Gunther Johnson, quarterback, 6-0, 187, freshman

27. Marana Mountain View (2)

  • Arizona: Richie Estrada, running back, 5-10, 201, sophomore
  • Arizona: Demetrius Flannigan-Fowles, safety, 6-2, 199, sophomore

27. Phoenix Thunderbird (2)

  • Oregon: Kani Benoit, running back, 6-0, 210, junior
  • Arizona: Jake Glatting, punter, 6-3, 206, sophomore

27. Buckeye (2)

  • Arizona: DeAndre’ Miller, linebacker, 6-3, 236, junior
  • Idaho: Aaron Pue, linebacker, 5-7, 207, freshman

27. Phoenix Shadow Mountain (2)

  • Arizona: Isaiah Strong, cornerback, 6-0, 172, junior
  • BYU: Beau Tanner, wide receiver, 6-0, 188, freshman

27. Tempe Marcos de Niza (2)

  • ASU: Richie Becerra, linebacker, 5-11, 200, junior
  • Texas A&M: Priest Willis, defensive back, 6-2, 200, junior

27. Goodyear Desert Edge (2)

  • New Mexico State: Sebastian Anderson, offensive line, 6-6, 290, freshman
  • ASU: Brock Corbin, offensive line, 6-7, 315, freshman

27. Gilbert Williams Field (2)

  • ASU: Cade Cote, offensive line, 6-4, 281, freshman
  • ASU: Colbe Smelser, linebacker, 5-9, 210, junior

27. Peoria Sunrise Mountain (2)

  • Utah State: Preston Brooksby, offensive line, 6-5, 295, junior
  • Colorado State: Elroy Masters, Jr., wide receiver, 6-2, 215, junior

27. Surprise Valley Vista (2)

  • UTEP: Terry Juniel, wide receiver, 5-10, 180, sophomore
  • Louisville: Gio Pascascio, wide receiver, 6-3, 195, senior

27. Phoenix North Canyon (2)

  • Wyoming: John Okwoli, wide receiver, 6-2, 205, freshman
  • New Mexico: Evahelotu Tohi, linebacker, LB, 6-2, 235, junior

For more from The Heat Index, go to

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(Photo: David Kadlubowski/azcentral sports)

Coach Norris Vaughan leads Mountain Pointe High School football practice Wednesday, July 27, 2016 in Phoenix, Ariz.

Mountain Pointe football faster, stronger, ready for title run

, azcentral sports12:57 p.m. MST July 28, 2016

Phoenix Mountain Pointe football coach Norris Vaughan, riding in his golf cart, gave a tour of the facilities that are enclosed with a Wall of Fame wind-resistant banner along the fence (thanks to Under Armour and the booster club). That banner shows action photos of top players since Vaughan began restoring pride in the Pride in 2009.

Jalen Brown, Wesley Payne, Kenny Lacy, Emmanuel Butler and Natrell Curtis are among the honored players.

It’s been an assembly line of great talent since Vaughan arrived with more ready to take center stage this season when the Pride line up against the likes of Chandler and company to try to make another run for the state championship in the 6A Conference.

Mountain Pointe’s only loss last season was to eventual champion Peoria Centennial in the state semifinals.

“It makes you more desperate to win,” said Rashie Hodge, one of the state’s best athletes who can play running back, receiver, tight end, safety and linebacker.

RELATED: Cesar Chavez football ready to ramp it up for 6A Division challenge


Vaughan said that Noah Grover would have been the starting quarterback last season if Jack Smith hadn’t moved in from Indiana. Smith, now at Arizona State, was a good runner who can pass. Grover might be a better passer, Vaughan believes.

Mountain Pointe lost only one 7-on-7 passing league tournament game in June, and most of the success was due to Grover.

“I think we have one of the best quarterbacks in the state,” Vaughan said.

Watch for a balanced attack with speedy junior Gary Bragg emerging as the go-to ball carrier on the ground. The line is stacked with Eddie Rivas and Mason Honne back to anchor it. Senior running back Anthony Stephens will miss the first two games, but watch out. He’s got 4.4 speed in the 40.

Grover will have plenty of targets, led by 6-foot-4, 195-pound Isaiah Pola-Mao and Jaydon Brooks (5-10, 165).

Pola-Mao is a two-time All-Arizona safety who will be on defense all the time. He has double-digit major college scholarship offers, but Vaughan believes he could be a Division I receiver, also.

“We’re going to pass it 20-plus times again and we’re going to run it I hope a lot,” Vaughan said. “We’re going to have a good line.

“We have some good players. We expect a lot.”

RELATED: Top 10 story lines as high school football practices begin


This could be as good a defense as Vaughan has had, which is saying a lot because that 2013 team that went 14-0 was absolutely loaded on defense.

But down the middle, led by the Pola-Mao brothers, this team is fast, physical and nasty.

Cornerback Antwaun Woodberry is ready to have a huge season.

“Everybody is fast on defense, even our D-line,” Woodberry said. “We have to keep the bar high. If we go down low that can cost us some games. That could hurt us.”

Vaughan says he has seven very talented offensive linemen, and “our defensive line might be even better.”

Aside from the younger Palo-Mao (6-2, 300), a sophomore who made a varsity impact as a freshman, the Pride line up Shomari Hayes (6-2, 270) and Khalif Ravenell and Michael Washington, who can both play linebacker.

MORE: High school football summer series schedule

On the lookout

Rashie Hodge, LB/RB, 6-0, 195, Sr.

Vaughan says this guy is reminiscent to Wesley Payne, the heart and soul of Mountain Pointe’s only state championship team in 2013.

“I would rank him right up there with Isaiah Pola-Moa,” Vaughan said. “I know you’ll look at me funny, but as a football player, that’s where I’d rank him. He’s fast. He’s strong.”

On the calendar

Sept. 8, vs. Chandler at Mountain Pointe

This is a Cox7 Thursday night TV game in the third game of the season for the Pride. These teams could be ranked 1 and 2 in the state at the time. They didn’t play each other last season, but two years ago, they were involved in two of the more physical and entertaining games of the year.

On the record

“It should wake us up a lot more and come back a lot better.” – sophomore DT Matthew Pola-Mao.

To suggest human-interest story ideas and other news, reach Obert at or 602-460-1710. Follow him at

Mountain Pointe’s Jaydon Brooks, 5, has used his speed and quickness to get open while his route running improved to lead the team with 26 catches. [David Jolkovski/AFN]

Jumping for joy: MP’s Brooks develops into leading receiver

Posted: Thursday, October 15, 2015 6:00 am

Jaydon Brooks has shown time after time that he has no problem leaving his feet in order to make a play.

Whether it is flipping over a catcher at home plate that made the local news, or diving for a football that’s just out of his reach, the Mountain Pointe junior wide receiver takes flight.

It hasn’t always worked out – he was called out by the umpire or the ball popped out when he impacted the group against Pinnacle and Desert Vista – but he made up for it last week.

With the Pride up 22-17 against Desert Ridge and facing a third and 17 with about 4 minutes remaining, Brooks went up high for a pass from Jack Smith for a 27-yard gain to extend the drive that eventually led to a field goal and an 8-point cushion.

“That was a huge play,” Pride coach Norris Vaughan said. “Jack had to scramble a little, found him and Jaydon came down with it. I don’t know. If he doesn’t we probably punt there.”

Instead, Brooks and the Pride salted away most of the clock and left Desert Ridge with just 1:29 left.

“I had to do something in that spot,” Brooks said. “I guess I didn’t think it was a big deal. I just wanted to catch the ball and keep the drive going.”

He’s been doing it all this season as the Pride (7-0) prepares to play Mountain View (3-4) on Friday.

Brooks is Mountain Pointe’s leading receiver among a talented group that includes junior Isaiah Pola-Mao and senior Ralph Roman.

“I’m feeling a good chemistry with Jack,” Brooks said. “I put in a lot of work on my route running so I can get open. I’ve always used my speed, but I needed to get better on my cuts.”

It’s led to Brooks hauling 24 catches for 259 yards. He isn’t a main target like Jalen Brown was, but he already has more catches than last year’s leading receivers Tyree Shivers and Frank Matchinsky, who had 20 catches each, while Roman (18 for 259) and Pola-Mao (17 for 307) nearly match Brooks.

Vaughan said Brooks plays bigger than his 5-foot-11, 160-pound frame would suggest.

“He is so athletic and can jump so high he plays more like he is 6-2,” Vaughan said. “He’s a good route runner, but his speed and athleticism is what separates him.”

Smith has plenty of confidence in getting balls to Brooks that maybe he wouldn’t throw otherwise.

“If I get it anywhere within arm radius, he is going to go after it,” Smith said. “He’s one of the top five athletes on the team. If the ball is within reach he is going to have an opportunity to make a play.”

Brooks, who also has 12 rushes for 107 yards with a touchdown, is all about making plays whether it is on the football field or the baseball diamond where he hit .387, scored 33 runs and stole 17 bases as a sophomore.

As for leaving his feet: “It’s just that happens,” he said. “You just go after the ball or flip over a catcher. It’s about making as many plays as you can for your team.”

• Contact writer at 480-898-7915 or follow him on Twitter @JasonPSkoda.


Jalen Brown caught a state-record 50 career touchdown passes at Mountain Pointe from 2010-13.  (Photo: David Kadlubowski/azcentral sports)

Mountain Pointe’s all-time greatest high school football players

, azcentral sports10:57 a.m. MST September 22, 2015

It started in the early 1990s under the construction of Karl Kiefer, a Hall of Fame coach who had turned Tempe McClintock into a perennial state powerhouse.

It now is in the hands of Norris Vaughan, who took Phoenix Mountain to the top in 2013 with a top-five national power that went 14-0, the school’s only undefeated and state championship big-school team.

Mountain Pointe football was built on the run, so to speak.

Run, run and run.

The school’s all-time list is loaded with gritty, big-play backs and led by the state record holder for career touchdown catches.

Here are my picks for Mountain Pointe’s Terrific Ten:


No. 1 Jalen Brown, WR/DB, 2014

Caught a state-record 50 career touchdown passes from 2010-13. As a freshman, he already stood out, staring both at receiver and safety.  He was a big cog to Mountain Pointe’s two best seasons in 2012 (a state runnerup  finish) and 2013 (14-0 and state championship). Brown was the catalyst of that 2013 Mountain Pointe team that finished among the top five in the nation. Brown, now a redshirt freshman at Oregon, caught his first collegiate pass last week against Georgia State.

No. 2 Keith Brown, RB, 1996

Brown was the first big back in the Karl Kiefer era, rushing for 31 touchdowns in 1995. Brown’s season school record of 2,701 yards in ’95 still stands today. He made USA TodayAll-American honorable mention. Mountain Pointe rode Brown, who ran the ball 337 times his last season. He is the only Mountain Pointe player to ever have more than 300 carries in a season. He went on to play as a 220-pound tailback at UCLA.

No. 3 Alex Lewis, OL, 2011

A 6-foot-6, 290-pound left tackle who is expected to be an NFL draft pick in the spring. He is currently a senior captain at Nebraska, where he started all  13 games last season, helping the Cornhuskers be among the top 20 teams in the nation in rushing. Lewis keyed the best running team Vaughan had in 2010, when he had two 1,000-yard rushers and the Pride averaged 315 yards rushing a game. His father Bill Lewis was an NFL lineman, who played for the Cardinals. Alex Lewis transferred to Nebraska after playing his first two seasons at Colorado. He played for the Buffaloes as a true freshman.

No. 4 Antonio Hinojosa, QB, 2014

The most prolific and successful quarterback in school history, he holds school records for most TD passes in a game (five, twice in 2012), most TD passes in a season (top two at 32 in 2013 and 31 in 2012), and most touchdown passes in a career (63 with the next-closest at 23) to go with several others. Only 5-11 and 170 pounds, he was slippery and accurate, taking advantage of his speedy play-makers.

No. 5 Michael Moore, RB, 2006

He was a big, between-the-tackles back at 6-foot-1, 200 pounds, who had six touchdowns in a game during his senior season, which still stands as a school record, tied with Skeeter Brown, who set it in 1994. Moore had 25 touchdowns in 2005. He holds the school record for most rushing yards in a game at 337, against Tempe Corona del Sol, in his last year. He averaged 9.8 yards a carry his senior year. Personal setbacks kept him from fulfilling his football potential in college.

No. 6 Nic Lovett, RB, 2000

Before going onto Weber State, Lovett made his father proud, before Mark Lovett — a former Arizona State fullback who was a big part of the Sun Devils’ undefeated 1975 team that beat Nebraska in the Fiesta Bowl — died in 2001, while coaching at Mountain Pointe. Mountain Pointe’s practice field is now named after Mark Lovett, who coached running backs and linebackers for Kiefer. Nic was a chip off the block with his ability to spring loose for big plays in 1999, when he ran for 1,899 yards. He holds the school record for career rushing yards with 3,330 between 1996-99.

No. 7 Landry Payne, LB, 2013

He was part of the dynamic duo Payne brothers in 2012 with younger brother Wesley racking up 170 tackles on that 12-2 state runnerup team. Landry was even more impressive with his ability to get into the backfield. He was only 5-10 and about 170 pounds, but Landry hit like a locomotive. Big number 7 had seven sacks and 16 tackles for losses his senior season to go with 92 tackles, 53 solo. And, oh yeah, when the Pride needed extra offensive punch, Landry delivered. He averaged 19.54 yards on 13 carries.

No. 8 Wesley Payne, LB/RB, 2014

Slightly bigger than older brother Landry at 5-10 and 190 pounds, Wesley’ fire fueled Mountain Pointe’s greatest season in 2013. Even though he missed two games with an injury and played much of the season banged up, Payne had 58 tackles following the school-record 170 he had as a junior. He also was the thunder to Paul Lucas’ lightning in the backfield, rushing for 938 yards and 12 TDs. Nobody will forget that season-opening 28-21 victory at Las Vegas Bishop Gorman, where Payne’s fury was unleashed. He had 167 rushing yards and a touchdowns in 22 carries to go with 14 tackles in that breakthrough game.

No. 9 Davon Jones, RB, 2010

When Norris Vaughan came to Mountain Pointe in 2009, he quickly turned to Jones to resurrect the program. Jones had 33 touchdowns on that 12-1 team that lost its only game to Mesa 14-10 in the state semifinals. They are second-most in school history, only to Brown’s 52.  Davon Brown’s comeback after playing just five games his junior season coincided with Mountain Pointe’s turnaround in Vaughan’s first season, going from 2-8 in ’08.

No. 10 Mike Collins, WR, 1994

Collins was a pretty dynamic wide receiver, before he became one of the top players in the 1998 College World Series, an infielder on Arizona State’s baseball team that finished national runner-up. His 10 catches against Glendale Ironwood in 1992 still stands as a single-game school record.  He caught four TD passes in a game in 1993, which Jalen Brown equaled twice. He is second behind Jalen Brown for most TD catches in a career with 13.

Photo: Rob Schumacher/azcentral sports

Arizona’s top high school football prospects: 2017 class


Before he’s done, he will be as big a recruit if not bigger than former Mountain Pointe receiver/defensive back Jalen Brown (now at Oregon). Pola-Mao had a big sophomore season at safety with 35 tackles and seven interceptions and one caused fumble for the Division I state semifinal team. He is big, rangy, fast and explosive. Watch him turn into a big-play receiving threat during his junior season.


No. 2 Isaiah Pola-Mao, Phoenix Mountain Pointe, 6-4, 190, DB/WR

Before he’s done, he will be as big a recruit if not bigger than former Mountain Pointe receiver/defensive back Jalen Brown (now at Oregon). Pola-Mao had a big sophomore season at safety with 35 tackles and seven interceptions and one caused fumble for the Division I state semifinal team. He is big, rangy, fast and explosive. Watch him turn into a big-play receiving threat during his junior season.

Watch: Isaiah Pola-Mao highlights


No. 43 Eddie Rivas, Mountain Pointe, 6-4, 280, OL

Expected to anchor the offensive line for this top Division I program. Great leverage and outstanding work ethic. Lives in the weight room. Big leadership qualities that will only lead to more room to grow.


No. 89   Antwaun Woodberry, Mountain Pointe, 5-11, 175, DB

Runs track. Good speed, skills. Expected to be one of the better lock-down cornerbacks in the state. He has great knack at being at the right place. Very good cover skills.


No. 92   Jaydon Brooks, Mountain Pointe, 5-10, 150, WR

A shortstop on the baseball team, Brooks will be one of the team’s faster and more athletic players at slot receiver. He runs a sub-4.5-second 40 yards. He is an exceptional student and runs disciplined routes with sure hands.





By Richard Obert azcentral sports Tue Nov 26, 2013 10:56 AM

Phoenix Mountain Pointe trailed in a game for just the third time this season. It fumbled away the only play it ran in the first quarter.

But the defense never faltered, and the top-ranked team in Division I showed its grit and dominance in the second half, shutting down vaunted running back Taren Morrison and pulling away from Mesa Desert Ridge for a 27-9 state semifinal victory Monday night at Tempe McClintock High.

Mountain Pointe (13-0) advances to its second consecutive trip to the state championship on Saturday at 3:30 p.m. at University of Phoenix Stadium.

“That is the most physical team I ever have seen in this state,” Desert Ridge coach Jeremy Hathcock said.

After fumbling the ball on the Mountain Pointe’s only first-quarter play, Wesley Payne carried Mountain Pointe’s offense in the final quarter.

Payne, who also plays linebacker, ran four straight times for 40 yards, capping it with a 14-yard touchdown that extended Mountain Pointe’s lead to 20-9 with 7:33 left.

Junior Paul Lucas finished off Desert Ridge with a 46-yards scoring run a little later.

Finally, Desert Ridge (11-2) got a first down with Morrison running for 26 yards on a couple of plays. But by then Mountain Pointe had let its foot off. Mountain Pointe was missing two starting defenders for the game.

“Our defense was incredible,” Mountain Pointe coach Norris Vaughan said. “They got three field goals and we gave them at least two of those.

“Wesley Payne was hurt. He played a little defense and came back like that. We had so many kids out. But I’m so proud of the guys.”

Even with Mountain Pointe loading the box with nine defenders, Desert Ridge established the line of scrimmage to start the game.

It ran 10 plays in the opening quarter when Mountain Pointe ran just one, which was fumbled away by Wesley Payne on the handoff. Mountain Pointe touched the ball only one other time in the first quarter – a fumbled kickoffs.

Landon Whitlow, who kicked a 49-yard field goal in the quarterfinals, made Mountain Pointe pay for not taking a holding penalty from its 35. On that first drive, Whitlow kicked a 50-yard field goal to put Mountain Pointe in a hole for the first time this season.

Whitlow’s field goal on the first play of the second quarter gave Desert Ridge a 6-0 lead.

Mountain Pointe’s offense finally got on the field, and it took only 1:10 to score a touchdown. Antonio Hinojosa found Jalen Brown deep for  a 38-yard scoring pass and a 7-6 lead.

Desert Ridge took a 9-7 lead at the half, thanks to help from Mountain Pointe, which was flagged for three 15-yard penalties – two personal fouls on the same plays and a roughing the passer on a third-down incompletion. Whitlow’s 37-yard field goal with 1:33 left put Mountain Pointe down at the half.

Taren Morrison, who came into the game with 2,400 rushing yards, ran for 61 yards on 12 carries in the first half.

Desert Ridge had only 30 yards on 11 plays in the opening quarter, but  the two fumbles kept Mountain Pointe’s offense off the field.

Desert Ridge’s defense played well for the most part, limiting Mountain Pointe to the Brown TD and two John Abercrombie field goals, before wearing down Desert Ridge with a punishing run game in the final quarter.


Mountain Pointe is returning to the scene of the crime and that’s no cliché.


The top-seeded Pride made quick work of No. 9 Red Mountain, 48-7 on the strength of a 21-point first quarter on Friday in the Division I quarterfinals at Karl Kiefer Stadium.


The win advances Mountain Pointe (12-0) to the state semifinals for the fourth time in five seasons where the Pride will take on No. 4 Desert Ridge (12-0) at McClintock High.


The Pride players had personal items stolen from the locker room at McClintock during last year’s first half in beating Brophy 30-0 in the semifinals.


“I’m not bringing anything valuable, I can tell you that,” Pride senior linemen Natrell Curtis said with a laugh. “I’m just playing. It’s good we are going back to a place we’ve played before. We’ll be ready.”


Unlike the security at McClintock last year, the Pride’s defense has been on lockdown all season and it continued against Red Mountain (6-6).


With the Pride up 14-0 after Antonio Hinojosa (8 of 11 for 161 yards) threw the first two of four touchdown passes, the defense added to the first-quarter scoring splurge when defensive end Mitchell Fraboni hit the quarterback from behind and the ball popped into the hands of Pride linebacker Trey Lauer, who took 28-yards for the score.


“That’s was a big-time play, something you see in the NFL.” Pride coach Norris Vaughan, who improved to 99-16 in his Arizona coaching career. “Our defense has been outstanding all year.”


Red Mountain had its chance to get some momentum in the second quarter after a shanked punt gave the Mountain Lions the ball on the Pride’s 29, but when the offense tried some razzle dazzle with a reverse wide receiver throw it was intercepted by senior Dominique Fenstermacher, who nearly turned it into a pick six.


“There is no margin for error,” Red Mountain coach Ron Wisneiwski said. “Even on their first touchdown our kid gets his hand of the ball, but instead of batting it down, he batted it in the air and their kid (Butler) caught it for a touchdown. It was like that all night.


“At the time (on the interception) it’s only 21-0 and if we score who knows where this game goes, but we didn’t. Give them credit. I am proud of our guys considering where we started out (1-4) and how they fought back.”


The Pride, fighting a strong wind, was unable to expand its lead in the second quarter but put up another 21 points in the third quarter as Timmy Hernandez caught a 16-yarder, Brandyn Leonard scored from 5-yards out and Brown hauled in a 64-yard bomb.


The seniors played their final game at home, where the Pride haven’t lost since Sept. 27, 2011, and plenty of them made their presence felt as Wesley Payne rushed for 133 yards on 21 carries, Brown had two scores and finished with three catches for 99 yards, Mitchell Fraboni had two sacks, Lauer had the defensive touchdown and Charlie Trevino had a sack.


“It’s bittersweet because it means a new chapter in my life is coming,” Trevino said. “We’ve had some great memories here. It’s really hard to put into words, but we still have a few more weeks together.”


Contact writer: (480) 898-7915 or Follow him on Twitter @JSkodaAFN.


Box score


MP 48, Red Mountain 7