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

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

Running game leads Mountain Pointe to third win. - Mountain Pointe’s Jakim McKinney, #33, evades a Mountain View tackle on... [ read more ]

Pride, Thunder both take to the road Friday after big wins - Marshawn Gibson marches down the field to start the fourth quarter against... [ read more ]

Mountain Pointe avenges state title loss, upsets Chandler on the road - Tyre Johnson carries the ball against Chandler Friday night at Austin... [ read more ]

Mountain Pointe football upsets Chandler on the road - Richard Morin, azcentral sportsPublished 10:14 p.m. MT Sept. 8,... [ read more ]

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.”

 

Matthew Pola Mao  (Photo by Sports360AZ)

No. 2 Matthew Pola-Mao, Phoenix Mountain Pointe, DT, 6-2, 290

A four-star by Scout.com, he has started at nose tackle since his freshman year on varsity. He is the younger brother of senior safety Isaiah Pola-Mao, who signed with USC. Pola-Mao has offers from UA, ASU, Washington,  among others.

See full article below.

Arizona’s top high school football prospects: 2019 class

, azcentral sports11:35 a.m. MT April 19, 2017

 

Spring football is around the corner, and it’s time to get going on the class of 2019 for Arizona high school football prospects.

I’ll roll out 10 each week until I reach 100.

RELATED: Arizona’s top high school football prospects: 2018 class

No. 10 Aaron Wood, Mesa Skyline, RB, 5-9, 175

He ran for 1,000 yards as  a sophomore, splitting time with a senior. Great work ethic and passion for the game. Has added 25 pounds since the end of last season.

No. 9 Nate Polk, Scottsdale Saguaro, S, 6-2, 190

A long, athletic, rangy defensive back who comes from tremendous football bloodlines. His father played in the NFL. His brother Ray played for Colorado. He is a dynamic defensive playmaker with great ball skills who could be the next Isaiah Pola-Mao to come through high school.

RELATED: Arizona’s best high school football programs – ranked by state titles

No. 8 Avery Carrington, Chandler, DB, 6-2, 180

He transferred from Hamilton in January. He is the brother of former Hamilton All-Arizona defensive back Devon Carrington, who went on to have a good career at Stanford. This Carrington could be just as good if not better. He anticipates well covering a lot of field. He had 41 tackles and three interceptions on Hamilton’s varsity as a sophomore.

No. 7 Ryan Puskas, Peoria Liberty, S, 6-2, 190

Great athlete who runs track. He covers the field really well. Makes plays on defense with his speed and physical play. He 54 tackles, five for losses, last season on varsity. He also blocked five punts. One of the more valuable special teams players in the state. He had three interceptions and eight pass breakups. His recruiting will blow up.

RELATED: Arizona’s best high school football coaches – ranked by state titles

RELATED: Arizona’s best high school football coaches – ranked by state titles

No. 6 D’Shayne James, Gilbert Perry, WR, 6-3, 210

Similar build as Arizona State wide receiver N’Keal Harry, James is getting serious looks from Nebraska. He had 58 catches for 823 yards and nine touchdowns last season. Big-play threat who makes plays after catches.

No. 5 JaCobby Dinwiddie, Mesa Mountain View, WR, 6-2, 180

He made a major impact as a sophomore when he caught 70 passes for 1,012 yards and six TDs. His offers will depend on his grades. Arizona, Arizona State and Washington State are on him. He’ll be getting great looks in spring ball. Excellent athlete. Big-play target.

ARIZONA NFL CONNECTIONS: NFL players from an Arizona college or high school

No. 4 Dez Melton, Glendale Deer Valley, Athlete, 6-4, 210

Tremendous athlete who picked up his first offer from Arizona. He can play anywhere. The Skyhawks used him at running back and he ran for 1,362 yards and 15 touchdowns on 190 carries. He caught 17 passes for 271 yards. And his best position in college could be safety.

No. 3 Jacob Conover, Chandler, QB, 6-1, 196

He beat out two guys in grades above him to become the starting quarterback and led the Wolves to the 6A state championship, then a Georgia state championship team in Texas in late December. His stats were off the charts: 3,715 yards, 32 TDs passing with just five interceptions. He completed nearly 70 percent of his passes.

RELATED: Biggest impact football players from Arizona in past 10 recruiting classes

No. 2 Matthew Pola-Mao, Phoenix Mountain Pointe, DT, 6-2, 290

A four-star by Scout.com, he has started at nose tackle since his freshman year on varsity. He is the younger brother of senior safety Isaiah Pola-Mao, who signed with USC. Pola-Mao has offers from UA, ASU, Washington,  among others.

No. 1 Spencer Rattler, Phoenix Pinnacle, QB, 6-2, 180

He started picking up football scholarship offers from Power 5 conferences after his freshman season. Rattler, also a talented basketball player, is up to 12 offers, five from the Pac-12, including both Arizona and Arizona State and UCLA, Colorado and Utah. He has grown a little more each year. His athleticism is off the charts and his arm strength and IQ only getting better. Watch for his best season yet in his third year as a varsity starter.

MORE: Notable Arizona high school football recruiting misses

Suggest human interest stories to Richard Obert at richard.obert@arizonarepublic.com or 602-316-8827. Follow him at azc_obert

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

Versatility on the offensive line fuels Pride offense

Posted: Thursday, October 20, 2016 10:04 pm

The Mountain Pointe football roster lists the offensive linemen without specific positions.

No one is listed as a tackle, guard or center. Everyone is listed OL.

It reflects the match-up strategy employed this year by the Pride coaching staff.

The same five players have started the last four games, but their positions change on the basis of on the strength of the opposition’s defensive front.

Four different players have started at center over the last four games. The lineup against Corona del Sol (4-4) this week for the Pride (8-0) will be different from what its lineup last week against Desert Ridge.

“In years past we couldn’t have done that,” Mountain Pointe offensive line coach Aaron Frana said. “Have a center go play tackle? That’s a tough assignment. These are guys are like, ‘You want me to move? OK.’ They never question it.

“I love it. They want to win and they do whatever it takes to do it.”

The key–other than the players’ versatility–is the level of play of senior Eddie Rivas, who is the strategy’s lynchpin as he is moved around to take on the opposition’s top player.

“I take it as a direct challenge,” said Rivas, who has played four of the five line positions. “The coaches put their faith in me to take on the top guy and I want that responsibility, plus I know whoever plays in the position I left is going to get the job done.”

His climb to one of the best linemen in the state didn’t start out all that well when he had a chance to play in the Chandler playoff game as a sophomore.

“I was like, ‘Whoa, tell me what to do,’” Rivas said. “I think (the defense) they were going to be that fast and strong. I knew I had a lot of work do when I pulled and I hit a linebacker and he didn’t move. I was like ‘get somebody else in there.’”

Two years later, he is the key to most versatile line in the state.

“He was a big raw kid,” Frana said. “He’s matured, got stronger in the weight room and now he can match up with anyone on the edge. When you have a kid who can play all five positions, you take advantage of it.”

The idea began to take shape when senior Joe Sales-Lopez sustained a concussion and had trouble getting cleared until this week.

With Sales-Lopez, who was going to be the starting left guard, out, the lineup starting changing. Star defensive linemen Matthew Pola-Moa and Shomari Hayes rotated at tackle.

When they needed a break because of their defensive responsibilities, sophomore Alex Vogel was inserted. And when he handled himself well, it became clear the unit had another capable body.

“I was not expecting it this year,” said the 220-pound Vogel, who has started at both tackle spots and center. “I made way on to the scout team and things progressed from there. I was kind of nervous at first but at the first snap you just play.”

The other three are junior Mason Honne, who has played left tackle and center; and seniors Justice Hudson, who has played center and left guard, and Rudy Rauls, who has played right guard all year.

With all the changes, many people might expect some struggles with continuity and/or rhythm. But the Pride is churning out 345 yards rushing a game with 33 touchdowns.

“Our offensive line has played really well,” Pride coach Norris Vaughan said. “We moved guys around in the past, like Natrell Curtis would play tackle or guard, but we’ve never done it at center before. That’s really unusual. They’ve played no matter where we’ve put them.”

Expect more of the same as the regular season wraps up and the Pride tries to clinch the 6A Central Region title this week—and possibly the fourth undefeated regular season since 2009 the following week against Gilbert.

There could be as many as six games remaining and there could just as many starting lineups along the offensive line.

“We will have a raffle to see who starts where,” Frana, who is also the co-offensive coordinator, joked. “It says a lot about them not only as athletes, but they have to be smart, too, to play different positions. We’ve put a lot on their plates and they keep going out an executing at a high level.”

– Contact Jason Skoda at 480-898-7915 or jskoda@ahwatukee.com. 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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COLLECTION: Mountain Pointe at Desert Ridge

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ARTICLE: Pola-Mao nears Brown’s school record

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ARTICLE: Stephens, Pride running game continue to roll without Bragg

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ARTICLE: Stephens, Pride running game continue to roll without Bragg

ARTICLE: Moving the chains: MP running game continues to flourish

ARTICLE: Legacy left: Pride keep up with standard set by previous squads

Running back Anthony Stephens #1 of Mountain Pointe is hit out of bounds during the first half of the 20th annual Tukee Bowl high school football game between Desert Vista and Mountain Pointe at Mountain Pointe High School on Friday, September 30, 2016 in Phoenix, Arizona.  [Photo by Billy Hardiman/Special to Tribune]

Stephens, Pride running game continue to roll without Bragg

Posted: Thursday, October 6, 2016 10:51 am

A characteristic of a seasoned running back is patience, waiting for a play to develop before turning up field.

Anthony Stephens has shown signs of being that type of runner, but he admittedly didn’t have it in him in Mountain Pointe’s third game of the year.

It was his first after being suspended for disciplinary reasons the first two games, meaning every carry was like three carries in his mind as he tried to make up for his mistake.

“I was anxious and I just wanted to go,” he said this week. “I wanted to make up for that lost time. I was the starting running back and then just like that I wasn’t. I had to calm down and see things differently.”

He sees things differently not only with the ball in his hands, but also what it truly meant to be a good teammate.

Missing that time because of something he did in the offseason cost him a more prominent role to start the year and vital time on the field.

More telling was the fact that he put himself before the team.

“I learned a lot,” Stephens said. “When you are in it for the team, it comes with a lot of sacrifices and commitments. I should have known it all along but that mistake really showed me what it means to be a teammate.”

The guy who took over his starting spot, junior Gary Bragg, tore his right anterior cruciate ligament two weeks ago in the win over Pinnacle.

Bragg was on his way to an all-state type of season with 891 yards and 11 touchdowns in five games, but now he is in rehab mode.

“All I can do is work hard and come back stronger,” Bragg said from the sidelines of the Ahwautkee Bowl.

It means Stephens and others have a chance to become the main back in the Pride’s dominant running game, which averages 327.5 yards a game entering Friday’s game at Highland (2-4).

The one thing that separates the 5-foot-10, 168-pound Stephens is that fact he only plays offense while Antwaun Woodberry (cornerback), Rashie Hodge (linebacker) and Delano Salgado (cornerback) have started on defense.

“We are going to mix it up, but we have to limit some of these guys on offense because they are so important on defense,” Pride coach Norris Vaughan said. “Woodberry can be special, but he is kind still learning back there. Hodge could be the guy, but we don’t want to wear him down too much.”

With the way the offensive line is playing, and the versatility it has shown in recent weeks, whoever lines up in the backfield is going to find holes to their liking.

“We are going to hold this position down,” Woodberry said on Friday. “We will pick (Bragg) up. He was going off, and now we have to step up.”

Senior Eddie Rivas has played every position depending on the opponent, Mason Honne moved from tackle to center,

Justice Hudson went from center to left guard and only right guard Rudy Rauls has played the same position, Sophomore Alex Vogel has found his way into the lineup at left tackle as Matthew Pola-Mao and Shomari Hayes started to concentrate on defense only.

“If we do our job it doesn’t matter who is back there,” Honne said. “They’re all good, and we have been creating some holes. We’ve made some changes and we’ve all adjusted to it.”

It’s been a winning combination, but Vaughan said the passing game may be counted on more without Bragg, whom he called the best running back in the state.

“It’s not going to change much,” he said. “It hurts you, but these guys are going to get better. Going forward though we are probably going to throw the ball more.”

However it shakes out the rest of the season, Stephens, who is the second leading rusher with 43 carries for 316 yards and three touchdowns, is ready to make the most of his opportunity.

Patiently.

“If I see it I’ll take it, but sometimes you have to wait it out,” he said. “You have let things develop and then turn it up. A good back can do both and I think we all have it covered.”

– Contact Jason Skoda at 480-898-7915 or jskoda@ahwatukee.com. 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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Matthew Pola-Mao – Top prospect for 2019 class!

    

Underclassmen Receive Power Five Offers, Week Three Breakout Prospect

On this week’s edition of the Rockin Refuel Recruiting Roundup, Jared Cohen and Jason Jewell have the latest recruiting news around the state of Arizona which includes ‘Power Five’ offers for two underclassman plus one program offers two teammates. The Week three player of the week put up video game numbers and the breakout prospect is a player the guys continue to be surprised has no next level offers. Finally, a look ahead to a big week four matchup in the southeast valley.

Players mentioned: Dante Blissit – Desert Egde, Harold Colbert – Chandler, Ty Grigsby – Rincon,Ryan Johnson – Chandler, Matthew Pola-Mao – Mountain Pointe, Joey Ramos – Deer Valley,Preston Smith – Mesquite.

Schools mentioned: Iowa State, Southern Utah, Washington.

Pointe Of Attack: Younger Pola-Mao Creating Own Legacy

They don’t look the same.

They don’t act the same.

They don’t even play the same but both are blessed with football bloodlines.

Mountain Pointe senior two-way star Isaiah Pola-Mao has schools from around the country tripping over themselves for his services. At six-foot-four, 190 pounds his skill set is unique. A perfect tall, rangy wide receiver or a player who can cover half the field in your secondary.

Younger brother Matt is already establishing his own MP legacy. The six-foot-two, 300-pound sophomore with the bushy, flowing hair frequently draws double or even triple teams as the anchor of head coach Norris Vaughan’s defensive line.

Oh, did we mention he also plays along the offensive line, as well?

“He’s just maturing,” Vaughan said after his team blew out perennial power Chandler 52-7 Thursday night in Ahwatukee. “He’s just a great athlete. He’s big, he’s strong.”

You’d never mistaken the well-proportioned, stout younger Pola-Mao for just a sophomore.

As a freshman he tallied 50 tackles (four for loss) and quickly began attracting attention from Division I schools. He already has offers from Arizona State, Arizona, BYU, Illinois and Oregon State.

For now, his focus is the Pride who improved to a perfect 3-0 after dismantling the Wolves.

“I’m not really worried about [the recruiting] now,” Matt said to Sports360AZ.com. “I’m just focused on the season. I’ll probably worry about that after the season.”

One glimpse of Matt on the sideline or field and you’d be hard-pressed to believe he worries about much of anything.

He’s as vocal as he is tenacious…as animated as he is respectful towards teammates and coaches.

He owes much of his early prep success to Vaughan.

“He’s helped me mature a lot,” Matt said of his head coach. “Last year he taught me how to play with bigger [players]. I doesn’t matter how old they are. It’s matters about your heart and how hard you play.”

At first glimpse it’s easy to see no one will ever question either of those attributes.

VarsityXTRAPosted: Sunday, August 28, 2016 9:23 am | Updated: 12:35 pm, Mon Aug 29, 2016.

Brother in Arms Notebook: Jags have scare, Pride getting healthy, Green switches numbers, name behind Campbell Field

NORCO, Calif. – The Desert Ridge trip to California nearly was about a lot more than playing a football game.

The Jaguars arrived at Norco High on Thursday evening, practiced until about 11 p.m. and had a scare on the drive back to the hotel.

The bus driver had a medical condition develop as the bus was barreling down the highway. Desert Ridge coach Jeremy Hathcock managed to remove the bus driver with some help and grab the wheel before the situation turned ugly.

“It was scary,” Hathcock said before Friday’s 14-10 defeat to Norco. “We’re very lucky and blessed nothing more happened.”

The bus driver was OK, but was replaced for the rest of the trip.

Headed for a collision

Any debate before the season began about the most talented roster came down to Chandler and Mountain Pointe.

The athletes and amount of scholarship offers that litter the rosters of those teams are matched by Saguaro, but the Sabercats are not in the same conference.

The Wolves and Pride are and play each other on Thursday, Sept. 8.

Chandler hosts Pinnacle next week, while Mountain Pointe, the home team, has a bye.

“We have a tough four-game stretch to start,” Aguano said earlier in the week. “I’m sure the Mountain Pointe game will bring a lot of attention, but those are the kinds of games these players want to be part of it. They get some extra time to prepare so we are going to have to turn our attention (after the Pinnacle game) pretty quick because it is a short week.”

Pola-Mao ready to roll

Mountain Pointe sophomore offensive and defensive lineman Matthew Pola-Mao ended Game 1 on crutches, watched Game 2 with a jersey but no pads, but made it clear he will be ready to go for Chandler.

“Oh yeah, we have a bye and then Chandler,” he said. “I’ll be ready.”

Adding to it

The Pride have rushed for more than 600 yards in two games to open the season.

And the preseason No. 1 back Anthony Stephens has yet to have a carry.

He is expected to be available for the game against Chandler to give the Pride another weapon with Gary Bragg and Rashie Hodge already off and running.

More than bystanders

At first glance there was not much defense played in the Wolves’ 56-49 loss to Centennial, which is ranked No. 20 in the nation by MaxPreps.

The Wolves didn’t have a good night defensively when 56 points and more than 700 yards were given up, but it wasn’t all negative.

Twice Centennial went for it on fourth down inside the Wolves’ 10-yard line and the Chandler 11 came up with a play along with getting two interceptions in the second half.

“The defense had moments, not enough, but they showed something at times,” Aguano said. “They were overmatched, but they were never beat because of effort.”

Quick change artist

Early in the second quarter of Chandler’s game against Centennial, Wolves running back T.J. Green was spun around by his jersey while being tackled, nearly getting tackled for a safety before putting his head down and getting a few yards.

While he recovered to get a positive, his jersey didn’t make it.

Green, who scored four touchdowns and ran for 127 yards, returned to the game wearing No. 36, which was the number of reserve linebacker Dylan McMonigal.

Developing situation

Desert Ridge prides itself in being able to run the ball. Anyone who has seen the pregame meetings between offensive line Kris Holcomb and the linemen understands how much their identity is based on intensity and dominate-every-play mentality.

The Jaguars don’t have their usual size upfront as they have four new starters.

The Jaguars unofficially ran for only 56 yards on 34 attempts against Norco.

“It’s going to be a process,” Hathcock said. “(Norco) had a good defense, make no mistake about it, but our offensive line is not very good right now.”

How about that

The three Arizona teams played on Gary Campbell Field at Norco High.

Turns out it has a major East Valley tie as the field is named after the father of Steve Campbell, the Williams Field head coach.

In doing research, a story popped up in the LA Times from 1993 when Steve was a senior at Norco.

Gary Campbell, who was a linebacker for Northern Arizona in his playing days, had been the coach for 25 years at that point.

There are some great anecdotes like the time 4-year-old Steve ended up on the wrong sideline after he went on the field to get a ball as the ball boy and a referee sent him to the wrong sideline and he ended up scared and crying.

In other words, Steve has been around the game from the day he was born. It also explains his ability to develop quarterbacks, considering the relationship he had with his dad who he played for over three seasons before coming to Arizona State.

“He yells at me and I get mad,” Steve said in the 1993 story. “I don’t ever yell back because then I’ll be sitting in the locker room.”

Campbell completed 63 of 113 passes for 1,186 yards, including 17 touchdowns and eight interceptions in going 11-0 with a 403-41 scoring advantage.

 
 

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