Chandler High again is beginning to look unbeatable in the 6A high school football playoffs.
On Friday, Mountain Pointe, which had won four straight games, could not keep up with the Wolves and fell, 49-21, in the state quarterfinals at Chandler.
It was only the second time in six games that the two-time defending 6A state champion Wolves have been held under 50 points.
Mountain Pointe finishes 7-5, its worst record since 2011. On the other hand, the Pride have reached the state quarterfinals nine times in 10 years.
The victory gives Chandler (11-1) a semifinal date with Highland (11-1) next Friday at Hamilton High in Chandler. Highland held off Liberty, 15-12, in a quarterfinal on Friday.
Chandler senior running back DeCarlos Brooks scored on a 71-yard run in the first quarter, on a night in which he had 248 rushing yards and six touchdowns, five on the ground and one on a 40-yard pass from quarterback Jacob Conover.
“That’s crazy,” Brooks said. “I have to give a shout out to my offensive line. They gave me holes to make cutbacks and do everything like I can do.
“They played phenomenal today and the defense played their butts off and kept getting us the ball so we could score. We just executed the game plan.”
Conover echoed his running back.
“It was an overall team effort. No matter what, we had to win,” Conover said. “The offensive line opened up great holes for the run game. Their protection was great, which was ultimately the team aspect of the win.”
Chandler coach Shaun Aguano, pleased with the win, already was thinking about pesky Highland in Friday’s semifinal at Hamilton.
“We’re coming in early and getting ready for the game next week by going over film and fixing the mistakes we had,” Aguano said. “We had a few turnovers that we can’t have if we are going to play in the championship game.
“I loved our physicality on both sides of the line, and if we can keep it up, we will be fine.”
Brooks and Conover agreed.
“We just have to execute the plays, play hard and physical, aggressive football like we have all year and we will get the win,” Brooks said of the semifinal match up.
According to Conover, “There will be a lot of preparation but ultimately we have to focus on what we can do.”
No. 8 Mountain Pointe was without injured rushing leading Jakim McKinney, who suffered a high ankle sprain against Brophy in the first round a week earlier.
“It was one of those situations where we were going to wait until game time, and come that time, (McKinney) couldn’t put enough pressure on it,” Pride coach Rich Wellbrock said. “Unfortunately, his really good career with Mountain Pointe had to end with him watching. I know he didn’t want any part of that.”
Chandler 49, Mountain Pointe 21
Mountain Pointe 0 14 7 0 – 21
Chandler 14 14 14 0 – 49
CH – Brooks 71 run (Peterman kick), 8:02.
CH – Brooks 1 run (Peterman kick), 4:20.
MP – Davis 28 pass from Wallerstedt (Abercrombie kick), 11:21.
CH – Brooks 11 run (Peterman kick), 7:49.
MP – Wallerstedt 71 run (Abercrombie kick), 7:27.
CH – Brooks 40 pass from Conover (Peterman kick), 5:49.
CH – Brooks 43 run (Peterman kick), 7:49.
CH – Conover 5 run (Peterman Kick), 4:47.
MP – Davis 17 pass from Wallerstedt (Abercrombie kick), 1:25.
Mountain Pointe cornerback Lacarea Pleasant-Johnson announced his commitment to the University of Utah on Twitter Wednesday, dedicating it to his mother, Jaquel Pleasant, who passed away when he was 11 years old. Zach Alvira/AFN Staff
It’s been a long road for Mountain Pointe’s Lacarea Pleasant-Johnson, but it all came to fruition on Wednesday when the three-star cornerback announced his commitment to the University of Utah on Twitter.
Pleasant-Johnson dedicated his commitment to his mother, Jaquel Pleasant, who passed away when he was just 11 years old.
“Dear mom, ever since you’ve been gone I’ve been out here staying out the way and being humble like you taught me,” Pleasant-Johnson wrote. “I promised you that I would go to a division I football program and make an early impact on that university and put the family on the map.
“All those early morning jogs and steady conversations willing my success in the name of Jesus paid off and I thank you for those blessings. I have not arrived yet but I am on my way … With that being said I love and miss you mom and I am more solid than ever. With that being said my commitment is for you and I thank you for birthing me. This is my commitment letter to you.”
Pleasant-Johnson chose Utah over eight other division I programs who had offered full-ride scholarships, including Colorado, Florida, Missouri and Nebraska.
He leads the Pride’s secondary this season with 13 passes defensed and is tied for a team-high three interceptions.
Pleasant-Johnson’s commitment comes just two days before eighth-ranked Mountain Pointe plays No. 1 Chandler in the 6A quarterfinals.
Kickoff is at 7 p.m. on Friday at Chandler High School.
Will it be baseball or football at the next level? Nick Wallerstedt has committed to a baseball offer from Arizona State. That could change, however, if the Mountain Pointe quarterback gets the right football offer. | Cheryl Haselhorst/AFN Contributor
Arizona State University has always held a special place in the heart of Mountain Pointe High quarterback Nick Wallerstedt.
Growing up he would attend games with his family. His father, Brett, often shared stories about his time suiting up for the Sun Devils as a linebacker from 1989-92.
So when the younger Wallerstedt received an offer to play Division I baseball for the school he grew up watching, making the commitment was easy.
“I knew I had my heart there,” Wallerstedt said. “It was exciting when I got the offer. I knew it would be my top choice.”
Wallerstedt became a force on the diamond for the Pride last season. As a junior, he batted .408 with 32 RBI and three home runs.
On the mound, he posted a 4.60 ERA, striking out 32 batters and limiting his opponent’s batting average to .287.
Wallerstedt plans to play outfield and pitch for the Sun Devils next season.
Despite his verbal commitment in baseball, his recruitment for football remains open. If the right opportunity comes, it could alter his plans regarding which sport he plays in college, and where.
“I would definitely have to take any offer I get into consideration,” Wallerstedt said. “If an ASU football offer comes around I would do both.”
Walking away from football would be difficult. He has passion for both sports.
While some would think about ending a football career after committing to another sport, Wallerstedt continues to embrace the physicality of the gridiron.
“There are a lot of times I will yell at him to slide,” Mountain Pointe offensive coordinator Ross Crow said. “I will say, ‘Nick! You’re a baseball player. You know how to slide!’ But he likes to get the extra yards for his team.
“It says a lot about his character and how much love he has for this program.”
Wallerstedt has become accustomed to his role as a physical quarterback, lowering his shoulder on scrambles and often delivering the blow or a stiff-arm to an opposing defender.
Through six games, Wallerstedt has carried the ball 61 times for 244 yards and two touchdowns, adding to an already lethal rushing attack led by senior Jakim McKinney.
Through the air, Wallerstedt has completed 74 of 119 pass attempts for 1,093 yards and 12 touchdowns.
His leadership is the most impressive aspect about him, according to his coaches.
“He is as-advertised, the role-model type,” Crow said. “I have him in my class and he is a quiet kid who always gets his work done. At times he jokes with the guys and knows what buttons to push with everyone.
“Nick knows how to play the chess game on offense and put the pieces into place. That’s huge for us this year.”
The transition for Wallerstedt under Crow and new head coach Rich Wellbrock has been easy. Wallerstedt believes that the new offense allows him to expand his role.
Each play call gives him options. From handing off to McKinney to throwing a screen pass to junior wideout Dominique Davis, Wallerstedt said that his job this season has been easier thanks to the scheme and talent around him.
“It feels great knowing that we have a lot of starters that know what is going on,” Wallerstedt said. “I feel good under Coach Crow’s offense. It feels like a D-I offense and it’s widened my quarterback skills.”
Whether or not Wallerstedt will continue his run as a quarterback at the next level remains to be seen.
When asked about the upcoming baseball season for the Pride, Wallerstedt shakes off the question, saying that it’s “too early.”
His focus remains on football. He hopes to lead the Pride to the playoffs and a chance to play for a state title in December.
“I’m proud of him,” Crow said. “I want him to keep building on his leadership qualities. That will transfer to any sport he plays or whatever he does in the future.”
Desert Vista’s defensive line, including Thomas Jackson (55), who dropped 50 pounds during the off season, was a menace to Mountain Pointe all night long in the Ahwatukee Bowl on Friday. The Thunder ended a six-game skid in the series with a heart-stopping 28-27 win at Karl Kiefer Stadium. Cheryl Haselhorff/AFN Contributor
By Eric Newman, AFN Staff Writer | October 6, 2018
Up just a point in the waning seconds of the rivalry game at Mountain Pointe on Friday night, the Desert Vista “Dawg Pound” defensive line that had stood tall all night made the deciding play.
With the ball on Desert Vista’s side of the field and 11 seconds to play, Mountain Pointe senior quarterback Nick Wallerstedt felt pressure – as he had all game – from the Thunder defensive line, and threw a hurried ball up-for-grabs that was intercepted in the end zone as time expired.
Thunder fans rushed the field as their team escaped with a 28-27 victory in the Ahwatukee Bowl.
The Thunder (6-1) forced three Pride turnovers, including two interceptions and a fumble, largely because of the push up front by the defensive line.
The Thunder defense took away Mountain Pointe’s two leading offensive weapons. Jakim McKinney, the Pride’s senior running back, who was averaging 110 rushing yards a game, carried twice for six yards. Dominic Davis, the Pride’s junior big-play receiver, who was averaging 111 yards a game and a whopping 21 yards a catch, caught five balls for 49 yards (9.8-yard average).
Desert Vista senior lineman Brett Johnson said he believed that the defensive front would have to play extremely well to win the game that Mountain Pointe had dominated with six straight wins and eight in nine years.
Johnson said that the defensive strategy the Thunder implemented worked to perfection.
“I usually play tackle, and I switched with our nose guard, and we played an odd front. That gave me the ability to push the center back as far as I could,” Johnson said. “We saw in film that they pull a lot, so we clogged up a lot of their pulls, and they had two guys on me most of the time, so that allowed space for the other guys to make plays.”
The Thunder defensive front, known as the “Dawg Pound,” caused pressure on nearly every snap, getting into the backfield quickly to hurry Wallerstedt’s passes and hit rushing attempts in the backfield.
Wallerstedt kept the Pride in the game with 205 passing yards (17-29-2) and 131 rushing yards on 12 carries, many of them designed runs.
“I don’t think anybody’s going to ever stop him, but we had to contain him, and our defensive line did that,” Thunder coach Dan Hinds said.
The Thunder knew the Pride would try to pound the ball but Mountain Pointe’s backs had a rough go. Because the DV defensive front had the rush under control, the back seven made plays on the ball when it was thrown.
“Our game plan was that us as a defensive line had the running backs, and the secondary was responsible for the other stuff. So, we shut down those runners, and it made it hard for them to move the ball,” senior Tyler Roberts said.
Defensive line coach Derek Kennard, Jr., who nicknamed the line the “Dawg Pound,” said he was disappointed by the gashing Wallerstedt put on the Thunder’s defense with his legs, but was proud of the way his team stuck to the game plan.
“They’re getting better, but it’s nothing that I didn’t already foresee. I knew early on that this was going to be a great group,” Kennard said. “It’s my ninth year coaching, and I’ve had a lot of D-lines. This is a special one, with a lot of talent and depth throughout the whole line.”
With the game on the line in the Ahwatukee Bowl, Kennard said his “Dawg Pound” wanted to be responsible for deciding it. The takeaway for the unit is confidence that it can compete against any offensive line it faces the rest of the season.
“I told them that we’re built for this, we want the game on our back. We always do because I trust they’ll get it done,” Kennard said.
Richard Obert, Arizona RepublicPublished 2:41 p.m. MT Oct. 2, 2018
This is a look at the top prospects football fans can see in the azcentral sports Week 8 Game of the Week.
Phoenix Desert Vista and Phoenix Mountain Pointe clash on Friday night at Mountain Pointe in the ‘Ahwatukee Bowl’.
Mountain Pointe (3-3)
Lacarea Pleasant-Johnson, CB, 6-2, 180, Sr.
He has reduced his college list to Colorado, Florida and Utah. He has said that he will likely announce his college during the first day of the early signing period on Dec. 19. Pleasant-Johnson will have to watch the edges against Desert Vista, which likes to employ a power run game.
He is on the edge of getting that break-through Power 5 offer. His current offers are from New Mexico State, San Diego State and South Dakota State. Versatile athlete who could play on either side of the ball.
Only a freshman, but he looks like he could be the next great running back to come through Arizona. He was impressive in the loss to Gilbert Highland, breaking off big runs in the second half. He will only get bigger, stronger, faster. He is headed to Power 5 offers. He is averaging 15 yards on his first 13 varsity carries.
He injured his ankle while rushing for 135 yards and a TD against Highland two weeks ago and did not play last week. He has major-college potential, as well. If he can finish strong, he could have big-time Division I offers.
Watch out for: Junior wide receiver Elijah Ervin has the size (6-2, 180) and speed that college coaches like. On a run-oriented team, he leads the Thunder in receiving with 18 catches for 263 yards and four TDs.
To suggest human-interest story ideas and other news, reach Obert at email@example.com or 602-316-8827. Follow him at twitter.com/azc_obert.
Mountain Pointe coach Rich Wellbrock has been patient with his team as they grow together in year one of his tenure. Wellbrock has said severall times he believes Mountain Pointe will be a different team come October.
October arrives in two days and Wellbrock may be on to something. Mountain Pointe was impressive all night on offense with quarterback Nick Wallerstedt piloting five 80-yard scoring drives and accounting for five touchdowns as the Pride knocked Highland from the unbeaten ranks with a 48-27 victory at Highland.
Mountain Pointe, No. 12 this week in the 6A power rankings, evened its record at 3-3 and bounced back impressively from a tough 29-28 loss to Queen Creek a week ago. Highland (6-1), under second-year coach Brock Farrel, was No. 1 in the power-rankings this week. Highland is 14-5 with Farrel at the helm and three of the five losses are to Mountain Pointe.
Wallerstedt, a 6-foot-3, 185-pound senior, completed TD passes of 5, 10, 17 and 30 yards to four different receivers. He added a fifth TD on a 10-yard run with 3:54 left in the third quarter . That TD served to a potential huge rally by Highland in the thrid period that saw the Hawks shave a 27-7 halftime lead to 27-21.
“We were emotionally invested this week,” Wellbrock said. “We played with more of a sense of urgency. Nick was special tonight. He did a little bit of everything.”
Wallerstedt rushed for 120 yards on 14 carries and completed 15 of 19 passes for 190 yards. In the first period he connected on 7 of 8 passes in a 20-point quarter. In the fourth period he was 5 for 5 as the Pride tacked on two scores to cut Highland’s comeback bid short.
Mountain Pointe got its offense rolling early mixing the run and pass in the first quarter that saw the Pride bolt to a 14-0 lead. Wallerstedt tossed the first of his four TD passes for the first score to Eli Sanders. The pride stunned Highland for a the second TD 42 seconds after the first. A fumble set Mountain Pointe up at Highland’s 36 and three plays later senior running back Jakim McKinney tallied from 8 yards out.
Mountain Pointe’s rushing attack was more than just Wallerstedt. The Pride netted a tad more than 300 yards for the game. McKinney checked in with 126 yards on 34 carries and Sanders added 67 yards on 17 rushes.
Highland pulled within 14-7 as its offense cranked out a scoring drive on its second possession. Dayton Huffman did the honors with a 13-yard run. That was all for Highland’s offense in the first half as they went to intermission down by 20.
As dominant as Mountain Pointe was in the first half, running 45 plays to 16 for Highland and having the ball for 18 of 24 minutes. its 27-7 lead nearly vanished. The Hawks drove 69 yards to begin the second half with quarterback Kaleb Herbert completing five passes for 58 yards, including the score to tight end Kyle Hester.
Seven seconds later an untouched McKinney fumbled and the ball was snatched out of the air and returned 20 yards for a TD by Highland defensive eend Cooper Holman. The large Pride lead was a single TD now midway through the third period.
Wallerstedt followed up and marched Mountain Pointe 80 yards in four minutes for its only score of the third period. Wallerstedt rushed for 48 yards on the drive.
Kohner Culliimore had several long runs, including a 64-yard jaunt to paydirt that briefly closed the gap to a TD again as the third period ended. Cullimore carried eight times for 149 yards.
Mountain Pointe receiver Dominique Davis has studied, and in some cases idolized, greats who play his position since he was 7. It has paid off. The rangy and speedy junior is emerging as the Pride’s big-play threat with a 26.7-yard average and five touchdowns in four games. Cheryl Haselhorst Tribune Staff
Running pass routes at a park near his house since he was 7, Dominique Davis has been preparing himself.
To this day, the Mountain Pointe High junior receiver imagines himself as some of his favorite football players, particularly Houston Texans star DeAndre Hopkins.
Davis tries to emulate their production, but he knows his best chance to join their ranks is to run his own route.
He’s doing it. Davis, a 6-foot-2 junior, has burst upon the scene as the Pride’s big-play receiver, with 20 catches for 533 yards, five touchdowns and a whopping 26.7-yard average in the opening four games.
“From high school all the way to the pros, I love watching film of receivers,” Davis said. “I mimic them, really. If there’s moves I see, I’ll try to use them, but I really do want to be my own player.”
His production is even more eye popping given that he’s done it in an offense that focuses primarily on the rush.
Senior quarterback Nick Wallerstedt lit up at the mention of his top target, whom he said makes his job much easier when a pass-play is called.
“I know he’s a mismatch one-on-one against just about any corner he goes up against. I can just put it up there anywhere near him and I have faith that he’s got it and going to run the right route,” Wallerstedt said.
Because the Pride are so efficient at running, with several talented running backs carrying the ball behind a stout offensive line, opposing defenses often bring additional players into the box. This leaves Davis and the other Mountain Pointe receivers one-on-one, in prime position to make big gains off play action.
In Sept. 14’s 55-20 victory over Hamilton, Davis took a screen pass 80 yards for a touchdown against a defense sucked in to halt the Pride’s run. Senior offensive lineman Alex Vogel said those plays are crucial to balancing the offense.
“That’s what we had last year with the power running offense, that guy who can get open on a long pass play for a touchdown to keep the defense off us a little bit and not just crashing the run all the time. So hopefully he can keep doing that,” Vogel said.
Paying attention to the “little details” on each practice and game snap, Davis will walk to the sideline after a drive to review shoulder and hand positioning, or just ask advice on how to tighten up his routes.
The coaches have taken notice. A constant voice in Davis’ ear is Pride coach Rich Wellbrock, one of his biggest supporters. Mountain Pointe’s staff regularly calls plays designed for Davis to simply streak down the sideline and grab the ball over defenders in jump balls.
Wellbrock said Davis has plenty of room to improve, though.
“He’s special, but we’ve got to get him to elite status,” Wellbrock said. “That’s being there and being that threat every play, to where defenses have to pay extra attention to what he’s doing.”
While the Pride offense boasts plenty of talented players, there aren’t that many that say much in the huddle or off the field.
Davis, hearing his coach implore the juniors to make their voices heard in the locker room, has taken a more-active role in pushing for improvement, not only in his own game, but also in those of teammates.
“I try to be a vocal leader, and I talk a lot off the field, encouraging guys and stuff like that,” Davis said. “But on the field, it’s really just trying to lead with how I play and prepare.
“I’m definitely getting better at that, though.”
Davis and the Pride will be tested Friday in a home contest against 4-1 Queen Creek. It will be both teams’ first 6A Central Section game
Mountain Pointe running back Jakim McKinney breaks away from Hamilton’s defense for a long touchdown run in high school football Friday night in Ahwatukee. McKinney and Eli Sanders did most of the damage as the Pride rushed for 416 yards in a 55-20 rout. Cheryl Haselhorst/AFN Contributor
With a short week of preparation and the memory of a bitter loss to the nation’s No. 15 team lingering, Mountain Pointe shook it off, unleashed its speedy rushing game and ran past Hamilton, 55-20, in high school football Friday night in Ahwatukee.
Mountain Pointe rolled to 416 rushing yards and 643 yards total offense against a program not far removed from its days as Arizona’s big-school dynasty.
But the Huskies were overmatched from the outset, as Pride running backs Jakim McKinney, a senior, and Eli Sanders, a sophomore, blasted through Hamilton’s front seven into the second level and raced away.
Meanwhile, the Pride’s blitzing, aggressive defense smothered Hamilton’s rushing game and consistently was in the face of Hamilton passers, making sacks or forcing hurried throws. Pride linebacker Rashion Hodge was a menace to the Huskies.
Last Saturday, the Pride was on the doorstep of upsetting 15th-ranked South Jordan (Utah) Bingham in Henderson, Nev., but inside the Bingham 5-yard line in the closing 2 minutes, Mountain Pointe’s fourth-down pass was deflected at the goal line.
There was no apparent hangover. Mountain Pointe struck quickly, manhandling the Huskies up front to open holes for McKinney and Sanders.
That, in turn, set up quarterback Nick Wallerstedt in the play-action and short passing game. The Pride also continued to take shots down the field and had receivers open deep most of the evening, but Wallerstedt overthrew several long balls.
The score reached 41-3 and the Pride threatened to put the game into running time before Hamilton regrouped and scored two late touchdowns, one of the drives set up by a recovered onside kick.
Mountain Pointe (2-2) plays host to Queen Creek (4-1), up this year to 6A, next Friday, while Hamilton (2-3) plays host to Dobson (1-4).
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