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Congratulation to the following Mountain Pointe football players on committing to play at the next level!

 Gary Bragg  Colorado State University - Pueblo
 Kenny Churchwell  University of California, Los Angeles
 Marshawn Gibson  Pima Community College
 Jatori Gipson  Pima Community College
 Sky Hinojosa  New Mexico State University
 Mason Honne  Washburn University
 Donte Lindsey  Pima Community College
 Jeon Moss  Phoenix College
 Daniel Pena  Pima Community College
 Andres Rangel  Pima Community College
 Khalif Ravenell  Eastern New Mexico University


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

Mountain Pointe’s Rashie Hodge cuts inside of the tackle attempt by Desert Ridge’s Stephan Gomez.  By Corey Cross, Special to AFN

On the doorstep: MP ready for seventh semifinal in eight seasons

Posted: Thursday, November 17, 2016 11:03 am

Way back in 2009 when Mountain Pointe made the semifinals for the second time in school history it was a huge accomplishment.

It has since become an annual event for the Pride football program.

That doesn’t mean this year’s appearance, the seventh time in eight years, is any less appreciated. It just means Mountain Pointe has a chance to further the program and that this game is never the end goal.

“We have a good thing going,” associate head coach/co-offensive coordinator Eric Lauer said. “We have a coaching staff that gets it done. We have kids that know what it means to play for Mountain Pointe and rise to that level. The foundation is pretty strong because every team leaves something behind and expectations are high.

“The kids know we expect to be right here where we are right now.”

The top-seeded Pride (12-0) takes on No. 13 Red Mountain (8-4) at McClintock on Friday in the 6A Conference semifinals.

This year’s senior class remembers all to well the vision of the last year’s group shuffling toward the team bus parked on the south side of the Desert Vista campus after falling 31-21 to eventual champion Centennial.

Heads were down, helmets were left on to hide the reddened eyes, and hugs with consoling family members seemingly lingered longer than halftime of the Pride’s final game of the 2015 campaign.

The end of a season, especially for seniors wearing the maroon and gold for the last time, is never easy to accept.

“We were crying before it was even over,” Pride senior offensive lineman Justice Hudson said. “We thought we were going back, but it didn’t happen and now we get our chance to make sure it doesn’t happen like that again.”

For most programs a state semifinal berth is seen as widely successful season.

Not at Mountain Pointe.

A loss in the semifinals as the Pride have been dealt after making the title game in 2012 and the championship year of 2013 means they didn’t further the program in their minds. They held serve, met the standard but did not get back to the championship game.

“I was a just a sophomore and I remember thinking I’m never losing that game again,” junior defensive end Khalif Ravenell said. “Here we are back in this game, and I think we’ve positioned ourselves to win it all, honestly, but we have to go out and do it.”

It won’t come easy against the Mountains Lions after putting together a pretty good hot streak.

Red Mountain has won four of five including wins over No. 4 Skyline and No. 5 Brophy in the postseason.

The offense is led by all-purpose junior Lance Lawson, who has played quarterback, running back and slot receiver, as he has totaled 2,260 yards and 28 total (25 scored, 3 thrown) touchdowns.

“He’s special and runs with a purpose,” Pride coach Norris Vaughan. “He is going to be a challenge to stop. He plays a little of everything and they have good quarterback (Austin Duffy). They’re a good team that’s playing well. Anybody in the final four is good.”

The defense, which is lead by senior defensive end Andrew Brown, has 32 sacks, 66 tackles for a loss and 13 interceptions, has the task of slowing the Pride offense, which averages 471.6 yards a game through 11 games, including 317.3 on the ground.

The Pride offense may get senior quarterback Noah Grover back from a broken leg, but sophomore Nick Wallerstedt has done everything that’s been asked of him if Grover has to stay on the sidelines.

No matter who is behind center Mountain Pointe has a chance to make its third state title game in five seasons. Everyone in the program is hoping to adjust Thanksgiving plans around a week of football practice.

“It’s quite an accomplishment,” said Vaughan, who has made the semifinals in 11 of his 12 years of coaching in Arizona. “It is more about the process than it is the result. The process takes the pressure off and the result should be good.

“It’s a game of moments and hopefully you have more moments than the other team.”

– 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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Mountain Pointe’s Isaiah Palo-Mao talks after win over Desert Ridge

No. 9 Mountain Pointe (Phoenix) rolls over Desert Ridge (Mesa) behind four defensive TDs


Handing an undefeated team its first loss is tough enough, but beating them when their defense scores four touchdowns? That’s pretty much impossible.

That’s what Desert Ridge (Mesa, Ariz.) found out Thursday against No. 9 Mountain Pointe (Phoenix) in their 6A Conference playoff quarterfinal matchup. Mountain Pointe rang up three interception returns for touchdowns to go with a fumble return for a score in the midst of playing generally lock-down defense, all of which led to a 47-21 win in Phoenix.

“Since I’ve been coaching, I’ve never seen four turnovers for touchdowns,” Desert Ridge coach Jeremy Hathcock said. “I had yet to see that happen.”

Mountain Pointe’s defensive effort was most pronounced in the first half, when Mountain Pointe built a 27-6 lead going into the locker room. Isaiah Pola-Mao led the way when he scored two second-quarter touchdowns on pick-six plays on consecutive Desert Ridge drives.

“I saw the opportunity to (get those interceptions) and I just took a hold of it,” Pola-Mao said.

Pola-Mao’s scores blew open what was a close game through the first quarter and a half. With Mountain Pointe holding a 14-3 lead, Pola-Mao gathered in a Desert Ridge pass that ricocheted off the intended receiver’s shoulder pad and returned the ball 20 yards for a touchdown.

Five plays later, as Desert Ridge tried to convert a fourth down near midfield, Pola-Mao stepped in front of a slant pass and went 56 yards the other way for another score and a 27-3 Mountain Pointe edge.

Desert Ridge would get no closer than 19 points the rest of the way.

“We had something to prove coming out. Everybody’s been saying they could play with us, and we took that to heart,” Pola-Mao said. “We came out and proved a point.”

Pola-Mao’s two scores were bookended by two other Mountain Pointe defensive touchdowns. Khalif Ravenell set the tone for Mountain Pointe’s defensive effort in the first quarter when he stripped the ball from a Desert Ridge running back and returned the fumble 19 yards the other way for the game’s opening points. Antwaun Woodberry capped the scoring in the fourth quarter when he snared an interception near the Desert Ridge sideline and raced back the other way for a touchdown.

Desert Ridge (8-4) battled throughout, and managed to cut the Mountain Pointe lead to 40-21 late in the game after freshman quarterback Matthew Purnell hit Michael Winner in the corner of the end zone for a touchdown.

Desert Ridge then recovered an onside kick, but Mountain Pointe’s defense again clamped down and forced a Purnell incompletion on fourth down to end the threat.

Mountain Pointe, which improved to 12-0, advances to the 6A semifinals against No. 13-seeded Mesa Red Mountain at Tempe McClintock.

“We did our job here. Now, it’s on to the next week,” Pola-Mao said.

Busting loose

Shomari Hayes and the Mountain Pointe defensive front line will be hard to handle.

Camp visits: MP’s defense will feed off front four

Posted: Thursday, August 4, 2016 3:58 pm

The collision was so loud and violent that someone who wasn’t watching the play develop might have thought there was a car accident at 44th St. and Knox Rd.

Instead it was just the Mountain Pointe defensive line feeding off each other in practice.

It’s been a common occurrence thus far in camp.

The Pride No. 1 defense is expected to be one of the best units in the state in 2016 and a lot of that comes from D-Line.

No one has a better view of the havoc than all-state safety Isaiah Pola-Mao as the play develops and he makes his read.

“They are going to make my job so much easier,” Pola-Mao said. “The quarterback is going to have to make quick decisions and those are not always good ones.”

The Pride has always deployed three- and four-man fronts defending on the opponent and/or situation.

No matter what the defense steps on the field the group of Shomari Hayes, Khalif Ravenell, Matthew Pola-Mao and Daniel Pena are going to be hard to handle.

All are big

The group up front this year could be one of the best under Vaughan, and there is a different look to it.

In the past the Pride has been on the smaller side up front with the likes of Charlie Trevino, Mitchell Fraboni and Dillon Goulet, but now Hayes, Pola-Mao and Pena average 6-2 ¼ and 282.7 pounds.

Hayes and Pola-Mao set the tempo of the group. They evoke a ton of energy and in the today’s vernacular are always “looking to eat.” There were times in practice – whether it was the Pride’s ones on the line or the backups that the duo were just unstoppable.

It’s just training camp, and Friday’s nights are a different level, but in the handful times we’ve witnessed spring and training camp this group has been devastating.

Don’t be surprised if there are quite a few collisions once the season kicks off.

Busting loose

Shomari Hayes and the Mountain Pointe defensive front line will be hard to handle.

Hungry for more: MP football ready for expectations in 2016

Posted: Thursday, May 19, 2016 2:47 pm

College scouts walking around Lovett Field at Mountain Pointe High School over the last three weeks for spring football practice probably had similar feelings as someone hitting up an all-you-can-eat buffet.

You just don’t know where to start.

It should be a salad, but the eyes are drawn to the carving station and dessert table.

And the Pride has a lot of beef up front and sweet delights at the skill positions.

“We’ve had all of the top programs come through,” Mountain Pointe coach Norris Vaughan said. “It’s been that way the last few years.”

Mountain Pointe will be back in the mix next season in the newly named 6A Conference as the Pride continues its drive toward being the top program in the state.

Over the last four seasons, the Pride has made two state title games, lost in the semifinals twice, won its first state title and have the best record — 48-6 — among top big-school programs, including Saguaro and Centennial, over that time span.

Last year was a true indicator of where the program stands as very few starters returned, and there were plenty of new faces that took over important starting roles and the team rolled off 12 straight wins before falling in the state semifinals.

“No one knew who we were last year,” said senior-to-be Eddie Rivas, who is moving from guard to tackle. “We never doubted it though.”

It also means that expectations fall on this team as the Pride heads into the 7-on-7 passing league portion of the offseason.

When national rankings come out Arizona could very well be represented by the Pride as they bring back several of last year’s starters.

“We won’t be sneaking up on anyone this time,” Pride coach Norris Vaughan said. “We bring back a lot of players from a team that went undefeated (in the regular season).”

Vaughan, who begins his eighth year at Mountain Pointe, said he is anxious to see how this group of players handle expectations that pile up between now and Week 1 when they host Sandra Day O’Connor.

“I think they’ll be OK, but it is one of those things that you don’t know for sure until it happens,” he said. “By the end, we were the only undefeated team so the expectations have been there before. It’s a new team and we think we can be really good.”

It starts up front on both sides of the ball as the athletic size on the defensive front behind Shomari Hayes, Matty Pola-Mao, Daniel Pena and Khalif Ravenell.

The offensive line returns Mason Honne and Rivas on the outside at tackles and three newcomers.

They’ll be protecting a new quarterback in Noah Grover, but the senior-to-be showed the ability and had the confidence of the coaching staff to be the expected starter last season before All-Tribune quarterback Jack Smith moved in from Indiana.

“I was ready last year, but I had a chance to watch Jack do some great things,” Grover said. “I saw what he did wrong, too, and what coach Vaughan wants from his quarterback. I’m more prepared to take over now.”

The skills players — led by Jaydon Brooks, Isaiah Pola-Mao, Anthony Stephens — will be plentiful to give the Pride offense the same potential Mountain Pointe has had in the past.

“(Grover) was our guy,” Vaughan said. “We were confident he was going to be really good and now we think he will be the best quarterback in our region.”

The same can be said with the Pride as players like Antwaun Woodberry, Rashie Hodge, Xavier Cota and Kenny Churchwell take over more prominent roles with hopes of continuing or even advancing the level of success Mountain Pointe has become know for in nearly a decade of prominence.

“We didn’t do everything we wanted to last year,” Rivas said. “We’ve been working hard since the end of the season. We know what it takes and we are going to do everything we can between now and the start of the season.”

— Contact Jason Skoda at 480-898-7915 or

— Check us out and like the Ahwatukee Foothills News on Facebook and follow AhwtukeeFN on Twitter.

By Cuyler Meade

Seasoned Pride Prepping For Big 2016

At Mountain Pointe, an undefeated regular season isn’t enough. Neither is a trip to the Division I semifinals.

For coach Norris Vaughan and the Pride, the only thing left to accomplish is winning it all. Again.

“Last few years you look at the top teams, Mountain Pointe’s the winningest team in the state over the last four years,” Vaughan told “And the last seven years we’ve been in the semifinals at least 6 times. The last four years we’ve been in the semis all four years and the finals twice, winning one in 2013, and going second in 2012. So we’re 48-6. We’ve won more games and lost less games than anyone in the state in Division I.”

It’s not going to be an easy road to the Promised Land for the Pride, but it wasn’t easy making it as far as they did last year either.

“Last year we had a young team,” Vaughan said. “Only four returning starters from the previous year. This year, we’ve got about 13, so we’re going to have to be pretty good. But we lost our quarterback, we lost our top tailback, who led the state in rushing, and we lost a couple of linebackers.”

As spring football begins, Mountain Pointe will key in on some of its strengths to replace what it lost.

Defense: Mountain Pointe’s defense is stacked, and nowhere more thoroughly than at defensive back, where two-way star Isaiah Pola-Mao returns to wreak havoc on opposing wideouts.

“He’s got eight Division I offers and he’ll probably add seven or eight more I’d assume,” Vaughan said. “Good student, been offered by UA, ASU, Washington, Oregon State, Nebraska, a whole bunch. I’m pretty sure UCLA, USC, Oregon. Very good player, 6-4, 190-plus. He ran a 4.5 40 at the LA combine. He’s very fast, he’s tall. He’s running track now, and long-jumping almost 21 feet, ran like an 11.4 400 meters the other day, and this is his first year running track.”

Isaiah had four picks and nearly 100 tackles as a junior. He also played wide receiver, catching 435 yards of receptions with five touchdowns.

But then, in the center of the defense, there’s the other Pola-Mao on the roster: Isaiah’s brother Matthew.

“His brother started for us this year as a freshman as a nose tackle,” Vaughan said. “He’s currently 6-2, 300, benches 300 pounds, also has an offer from Oregon State as a freshman. Two totally different body types, but another great kid, and he’s going to be a great player.”

Occupying the other side of the field from the elder Pola-Mao will be Antwaun Woodberry.

“He’s a cornerback that’s going to be a Division I player,” Vaughan said. “Also at least a 4.4 40. Very good player, who might play some offense but is primarily defense.”

Another two-way player, Rashie Hodge, looks to improve on a great 2015.

“Outside linebacker who we’ll also play at running back,” Vaughan said. “6-foot, 190 pounds, runs a 4.6. All-State-type player. Great player, all-region last year, first team on defense.

“I’ve got a kid named Khalif Ravenell, he’s a sophomore, about 6-1, 225, and he’s got a chance to be a Division-I player.”

All in all, Vaughan is thrilled about his defensive returners.

“Also two defensive linemen, one defensive end and an outside linebacker returning,” Vaughan said. “We have eight returners on defense. Last year we had a young defense but we also had a lot of injuries on defense.”

Quarterback: It’s tough replacing a guy like Jack Smith, the 63-percent, 15/4 touchdown/interception, 2005-yard passer from last season who flipped his commitment from NAU to ASU in February to play safety with the Devils.

But that’s what Vaughan is tasked with doing, and he’s confident in the young man he’s got coming up next, Noah Grover.

“He’ll be a first-year starter as a senior,” Vaughan said. “He’s got some division II offers already. Got a 4.0-plus GPA. Very good passer. So I think our quarterback situation will be in good hands.”

Offensive line: There’s nothing better than consistency on the O-line, and Vaughan’s got it this year.

“I’ve got a lineman who was just named the most valuable player at the Dallas Cowboys camp,” Vaughan said. “Mason Honne, another sophomore. All these guys started this year, now. We had five sophomores, and a freshman start this year. Mason is about 6-1-and-a-half, 260. He played center and tackle. Very good.

“We also return another lineman, Rudy Rauls. Offensive guard, 6-foot, about 260 pounds, runs about a 4.9.”

Running back: Here’s another key position where Vaughan has to replace a star. Division I rushing leader Macarius Blount is off to Phoenix College, and his 1783 rushing yards won’t be easy to come by.

“We’ve got two tailbacks, both with great speed,” Vaughan said. “Anthony Stephens and a kid named Gary Bragg. Bragg got about 1500 yards on the JV team. Either one of those guys could be the starter, and they’ll get some relief work from Rashie Hodge.”

Football: Mountain Pointe vs Desert Vista Tukee Bowl

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.

Forever young: MP mixes youth, experience for football success

Posted: Wednesday, October 21, 2015 4:00 pm

Top football programs keep a certain level of success annually by sprinkling in younger players here and there.

It allows the players to get acclimated to the varsity level at a young age and get invaluable experience.

It’s a nice luxury and adds depth for years to come.

Another way of going about it, and one Mountain Pointe has had to adopt this year after being a senior-laden squad in 2014, is to throw some of those young players in there with prominent roles.

The Pride (8-0) are one of only two undefeated Division I teams heading into Friday’s home game against Highland (4-4) and are doing so with four sophomores and a freshman not only starting but playing at high levels.

“We’ve had a lot of young players in there all year,” Pride coach Norris Vaughan said. “I don’t know if you can call them young anymore this far in the season, but their playing good, doing their job.”

There are plenty of seniors – including stars like offensive tackle Devon Howard, linebacker Daulton Rittenhouse, and Dillon Goulet – making an impact as Mountain Pointe looks to finish with its third undefeated regular season since 2009, but a good portion of the talent lies in the junior and sophomore classes.

“We have work to do this year, but we are building for next year at the same time,” junior wide receiver/safety Isaiah Pola-Mao said. “We are a pretty young team, and we are winning. These young guys are good.”

The sophomores are center Mason Honne, defensive end Khalif Ravenell, safety Kenny Churchwell, defensive lineman Shomari Hayes and the freshman is nose guard Matthew Pola-Mao.

Combine the impact they are making with juniors Eddie Rivas (offensive line), Rashie Hodge (cornerback), Jaydon Brooks (wide receiver) and the older Pola-Mao and it is clear the Pride are going to be a factor again in 2016.

Not that anyone is worried about that just yet, but the sophomore class is taking notes in order to be prepared when it is their time.

“By the time we are seniors we are probably going to be the leaders,” Honne said. “We talk about how we have to pay attention to what the seniors say, and how they go about doing things so when it is our time we know what is expected of us and what to do.”

Honne and Ravenell have started from the start, while Hayes, Pola-Mao and Churchwell have been added to the mix as the season went on out of need and development.

Pola-Mao, who will move to offensive guard next year with major college offers to come, got a shot when senior Rashad Green hurt his knee. Pola-Mao has flourished.

The coaching staff slow played Churchwell’s development knowing he was good enough athletically from the start, but wanted to make sure he was ready mentally before going with him as a starter.

He was moved to strong safety, saw time at wide receiver and has made an immediate impact, including two interceptions in the Ahwatukee Bowl.

“He brings a lot of athleticism back there, and it frees me up to do more things,” Isaiah Pola-Mao said. “(His insertion to the lineup) really made our defense stronger.”

The same can be said for all five of the youngsters as Mountain Pointe pushes for the postseason and beyond.

“We can be even better next year,” Pola-Mao continued. “We are going to bring more experience and have a lot of leaders stepping up. Everything we do the rest of the season is only going to make us better so we’re going to push it as far as we can.”

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