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 ]

Mountain Pointe’s Gary Bragg, #8, threads his way through Pinnacle defenders as he picks up yardage.

Photo by Cheryl HaselhorstBy Eddie Poe AFN Contributor  |  Updated 

Pride continue to win with a strong defense and running game

Phoenix Mountain Pointe continues to display why it’s the No. 1 high school football team in the state. 

Much like they did during their first three wins, the Pride were dominant early on the defensive side and their overpowering offensive line created all sorts of running opportunities for a backfield that absolutely tortured Pinnacle to the tune of a 58-34 victory Friday night at Karl Kiefer Stadium. 

“The offensive line and our running backs were the story of the game,” said Mountain Pointe coach Norris Vaughan.

Led by quarterback phenom Spencer Rattler, Pinnacle (3-3) climbed their way back into the game after falling behind 44-14 with just over nine minutes left to play in the game. 

After Rattler found Quinton Powell down the middle of the field for a near perfect 66-yard touchdown pass and an onside kick was recovered, the 6’2 commit to the University of Oklahoma found Kaleb Covington in the end zone to suddenly cut Mountain Pointe’s (4-1) lead to 44-34 with 4:15 left to play. 

“We had some guys who were banged up and tired so we kept having to sub guys in,” Vaughan said. “They just kept coming at us.” 

It was too little too late for the Pioneers though, as quarterback Nick Wallerstedt and the Pride kept to the ground game and simply lulled the Pinnacle defense to sleep until time ran out.

What easily could’ve been a game most highlighted by Mountain Pointe’s stout defense, resulted in a true showing of just how dangerous Gary Bragg and Jakim McKinney can be behind one of the best offensive line’s in the state. 

“The line was great, they did what they always do,” running back Jakim McKinney said. “They got off the ball and when they pulled, they pulled as fast as they could. Every time they created that hole [us] backs were able to find it and just run.” 

Finishing the game with four rushing touchdowns, McKinney knew just how to find those holes. On the second play of the fourth quarter, McKinney took a handoff from Wallerstedt, stepped outside a bit, looked back inside and bolted through a hole on the way to a 58-yard touchdown run — his second of the game.

He later added a 25-yard touchdown run and another to seal the victory for Mountain Pointe. His partner in the backfield, Bragg, scored the first touchdown of the night for the Pride.

“We’re like a perfect duo,” McKinney said. “When one of us gets tired after a long run, the other one switches in and we just keep grinding until one of us scores. We both ran great tonight.”

The constant grind on the ground saw its true effectiveness to begin the second half. Running 18 plays — 17 of them on the ground — Mountain Pointe took eight minutes off the clock as they trudged 80 yards down the field, essentially taking all momentum out of Pinnacle’s sails. 

From there, the rout was on and Rattler was never able to develop a healthy relationship with his receivers until it was far too late. 

Even when the Pioneers put together a handful of positive plays on offense, third down came knocking and they struggled throughout the night to move the chains when they most needed to.

To no surprise, Mountain Pointe dominated the line of scrimmage. It’s what they’ve been best known for over the years and the one thing they’ve stuck to through their first five games. 

Despite a few first half mistakes, they tightened up some things at halftime and provided a strong showing on their first home game of the season. 

“We came out strong for our first home game,” Bragg said. “It feels great.”

Mountain Pointe will travel to Desert Vista on Thursday night for the annual Tukee Bowl.

Mountain Pointe’s Jakim McKinney (#33) is lifted by teammates after he scores a touchdown in the second quarter of their high school football game against Chandler on Friday, Sept. 8, 2017, at Chandler High School in Chandler, Ariz.

Arizona high school football rankings for 2017 season: Through Sept. 15

, azcentral sportsPublished 4:05 p.m. MT Aug. 12, 2017 | Updated 3:00 p.m. MT Sept. 16, 2017

 

This will be a season-long thread, ranking the top 10 teams in each of the six conferences in Arizona high school football for the 2017, as determined by Richard Obert of azcentral sports.

Keep coming back to every week for updated rankings.

Week 4

Through Sept. 15

6A

No. 1 Gilbert Perry 5-0

No. 2 Phoenix Mountain Pointe 3-1

No. 3 Chandler 3-2

No. 4 Phoenix Pinnacle 3-2

No. 5 Chandler Hamilton 4-1

No. 6 Gilbert Highland 5-0

No. 7 Phoenix Desert Vista 3-1

No. 8 Phoenix Horizon 3-1

No. 9 Mesa Desert Ridge 3-1

No. 10 Mesa Red Mountain 2-2

Mountain Pointe’s Jakim McKinney, #33, evades a Mountain View tackle on his way into the end zone for the Pride’s first touchdown.  [Photo by Cheryl Haselhorst]

Running game leads Mountain Pointe to third win.

By Eddie Poe AFN Contributor | 9/16/17

For a team that finished third in the 6A Conference in 2016 and fell short in the state title game, Phoenix Mountain Pointe looks to be doing everything they can to avenge last season’s result. 

A week after upsetting then No.1 Chandler on the road, top-ranked Mountain Pointe kept its foot on the gas pedal Friday night, cruising to a 35-3 victory over No. 22 Mesa Mountain View. 

“We were dominant on both offense and defense tonight,” Mountain Pointe coach Norris Vaughan said. “Our quarterback made plays and our backs ran really hard behind our line for most of the game.”

Mountain Pointe (3-1) wasn’t perfect on either side of the ball by any means. It racked up over a dozen penalties throughout the game, which allowed Mountain View (2-2) a time of possession which nearly seemed like an eternity. Fortunately for the Pride, secondary play from Kenny Churchwell and Lacarea Pleasant-Johnson kept the Toros out of the end-zone numerous times despite the long list of penalties. 

“[They] certainly made their fair share of plays,” Vaughan said. “We were so dominant on defense but it was the penalties that allowed them to stay on the field and keep their drives going.”

For the second straight week, Mountain Pointe got the offensive push up front that they’re accustomed to seeing, which created a plethora of holes for the backfield. 

After a drive early on led to a touchdown run by Jakim McKinney, a hole opened up once again to start the second quarter and Gary Bragg found paydirt for the second rushing touchdown in the game, scampering for a 23-yard touchdown to give the Pride a 14-3 lead.

A critical mistake to go for it on fourth down deep in their own territory, came back to bite the Toros right before the half. Mountain Pointe took over possession at the Toros’ 23-yard-line and a few plays later, McKinney ran it in from nine yards out for his second touchdown of the game. 

“We’ve all been working really hard at practice,” McKinney said. “Sometimes the guys up front make mistakes but they get right back up and they got a lot better tonight.”

A few minutes before the half, Mountain View had their best opportunity to get back in the game but another crucial mistake proved costly. On a screen pass out left, quarterback Brandon Nuñez hit Jacobby Dinwiddie in the flat and the offensive line carved out an open path to the end zone and Dinwiddie took it to the house for what seemed like a must-have touchdown. Unfortunately, a holding penalty negated the touchdown pass and Mountain Pointe went into the half with a 21-3 lead.

From there the rout continued as on the opening play of the second half, a hole practically the size of Arizona opened and quarterback Nick Wallerstedt it himself for a 77-yard touchdown run. 

“We knew what to expect tonight and I felt like our guys came out and played really hard on both sides,” Vaughan said. “We just need to cut down on penalties.”

To go along with four touchdowns on the ground, Wallerstedt connected with Pleasant-Johnson late in the fourth on a touchdown pass. He finished with a TD reception and an interception — a pick for a touchback late in the second quarter that stalled a Mountain View drive.

The Pride will return home next week for the first time this season, when they welcome quarterback phenom Spencer Rattler and Pinnacle High School (3-2). 

Photo: Carlos Salcedo, azcentral sports

By:  | September 9, 2017

Mountain Pointe (Phoenix) takes down No. 10 Chandler (Ariz.) on the road

Following a loss to national power Chaminade Prep (Mission Viejo, Calif.), Phoenix Mountain Pointe stunned top-ranked Chandler, 24-21, on its home turf Friday.

MORE: How the Super 25 fared for Sep. 8-Sept. 9

Mountain Pointe quarterback Nick Wallerstedt got the game’s first score by way of a 3-yard keeper with just over a minute remaining in the first quarter. Two plays later, Jacob Olsen recovered a fumble by Chandler’s offense and returned it 12 yards to make it a two-score game.

The Pride (2-1) kept the pressure on with a four-play, 83-yard drive punctuated by Jakim McKinney’s 2-yard plunge early in the second.

Chandler (2-2) finally got a defensive stop midway through the second quarter and got on the board with a DeCarlos Brooks touchdown run with just over four minutes remaining in the half.

Neither team scored in the third until Ben Abercrombie kicked a 16-yard field goal to make it 24-14 in favor of the Pride.

However, on the next possession, Brooks scored on a 1-yard run to make it a three-point game. Mountain Pointe recovered the onside kick, but fumbled a few plays later and Chandler’s Avery Carrington recovered.

With the ball and just two minutes left, the Chandler offense just couldn’t pull through and Mountain Pointe held on for the win.

, azcentral sportsPublished 10:14 p.m. MT Sept. 8, 2017

Mountain Pointe football upsets Chandler on the road

Following a loss to national power Chaminade Prep (Mission Viejo, Calif.), Phoenix Mountain Pointe stunned top-ranked Chandler, 24-21, on its home turf Friday. 

Mountain Pointe quarterback Nick Wallerstedt got the game’s first score by way of a 3-yard keeper with just over a minute remaining in the first quarter. Two plays later, Jacob Olsen recovered a fumble by Chandler’s offense and returned it 12 yards to make it a two-score game. 

The Pride (2-1) kept the pressure on with a four-play, 83-yard drive punctuated by Jakim McKinney’s 2-yard plunge early in the second. 

Chandler (2-2) finally got a defensive stop midway through the second quarter and got on the board with a DeCarlos Brooks touchdown run with just over four minutes remaining in the half. 

Neither team scored in the third until Ben Abercrombie kicked a 16-yard field goal to make it 24-14 in favor of the Pride. 

However, on the next possession, Brooks scored on a 1-yard run to make it a three-point game. Mountain Pointe recovered the onside kick, but fumbled a few plays later and Chandler’s Avery Carrington recovered. 

With the ball and just two minutes left, the Chandler offense just couldn’t pull through and Mountain Pointe held on for the win. 

Standout performer

Nick Wallerstedt took advantage of a sloppy Chandler contingent on Friday, grinding out 79 all-purpose yards and a touchdown. An effective running game behind him allowed the junior quarterback to pick his spots from the pocket – and he did not waste his opportunities. 

More standouts

Jacob Olsen (Mountain Pointe): Recovered and returned a fumble for a touchdown in the first quarter and recorded an important sack in the second half. 

Jarick Caldwell (Chandler): In a relatively quiet night for the Wolves’ offense, Caldwell still impressed with six catches for 50 yards.

Star watch

Delano Selgado (Mountain Pointe): Although he didn’t reach the end zone, the speedy back was a productive playmaker for the Pride – finishing with 46 yards on 8 carries and a key interception on defense. 

Jacob Conover and Gunner Romney (Chandler): The Wolves surely missed their standout quarterback-receiver duo on Friday night. Conover – who has offers from Alabama and Arizona, among others – is out with a shoulder sprain. The BYU commit Romney is nursing a knee injury. 

Quote of the game

After a hard-fought loss the previous week, Wallerstedt said his team deserved the win after all the hard work they put in during preparation for Friday’s game. 

“It feels great,” Wallerstedt said. “We’ve been fighting all week, preparing as a team and staying focused. We deserve it.”

Stat of the game

As a team, Mountain Pointe rushed for an even 200 yards. 

Up next

Chandler will travel to face Phoenix Sandra Day O’Connor next Friday, and Mountain Pointe will also take to the road for a bout with Mesa Mountain View. 

 

Wednesday, September 6, 2017  |  By:  | MaxPreps.com

Football Game Preview: Chandler vs. Mountain Pointe

This week, Mountain Pointe (1-1) faces off against Chandler (2-1) on Friday at 7:00 PM. These are two of the top teams in the nation (Chandler is ranked 30th, Mountain Pointe 138th), so it should shape up to be an exciting match.

Mountain Pointe lost to Chaminade 39 – 25 last week. The offensive line was plagued by an aggressive Chaminade defense that sacked the quarterback seven times.

Meanwhile, Chandler battled it out with Pinnacle last week for a well-earned 35 – 28 overtime win. With four TDs, senior running back Drake Anderson was a significant factor in the success. Anderson has been the ringleader for Chandler this season two times now.

The last time they met, Chandler hopped past Mountain Pointe 36 – 17. Will Mountain Pointe avenge its loss? We’ll find out soon enough.

Mountain Pointe running back Gary Bragg, returning from an ACL injury that kept him out for most of the 2016 season, ran for three touchdowns Friday night against Phoenix Sandra Day O’Connor.   [Photo by Carmen Jollineau]

Mountain Pointe makes early statement in rout of O’Connor

By Eddie Poe, Tribune Contributor | Updated 

Mountain Pointe wasted no time showing why it is the No. 2-ranked high school football team in Arizona.

Gary Bragg and Delano Salgado ran through and around the defense of Phoenix Sandra Day O’Connor with ease on Friday night, cruising to a 46-6 rout at Jack Dillard Stadium in their season opener.

“I’m really proud of the way we came out and played,” coach Norris Vaughan said. “We had a few dropped balls, a few miscues here and there but I thought we played really well.”It looked at first like No.2 Mountain Pointe was going to be faced with a challenge as they were forced to punt the ball away on their first two drives.

The challenge was short-lived as Bragg took a handoff from quarterback Nick Wallerstedt on the following drive, made two O’Connor defensive players miss, and sped down the left side of the field for a 47-yard run.

It later set up Wallerstedt for an 11-yard quarterback draw to score the first points of the game.From that point on, Mountain Pointe grasped hold of the flow of the game and never looked back.“It was good to be able to come out and control the game like we did and go at our own pace,” Braggs said, who finished the game with three rushing touchdowns. On the other side of the ball, the Pride defense mauled opposing quarterback Christian King to the tune of no first downs allowed in the first half.

One of the questions for Mountain Pointe coming into their season opener was whether their defense would present the same type of aggressiveness and force without their star defensive lineman, Matthew Palo-Mao, who was lost for the season to injury. “I wish we had him but we had a number of other guys behind him step up and really perform,” Vaughan said. “A guy goes down, other players step in and do their job. That’s all you can ask for.”

With a week off before their next game, Mountain Pointe will begin preparing for the national stage as they’ll travel to California on Aug. 31 to take on Chaminade High School. The following week, they’ll return home for a matchup with Chandler — a game that’s been marked on their calendar since last season’s state final loss. 

The reality of two early season games on a national stage is crucial for Mountain Pointe’s success in the long run.“[Those] games are definitely going to help us later on in the season,” Wallerstedt said. “We’ll see two of the better teams in the country and after that it’ll just be about treating every game like we’re playing [Chandler] or [Chaminade] because you never know what’s going to happen.” 

Although the preparation for those two matchups will be fairly similar to any other game, there’s no arguing the heightened importance of them. “We always want to play the best teams to start off the season,” Vaughan said. “We think [they] will help us tremendously for the rest of the season.”

“But, they’ll both be just like any other game.”

 

The 2017 high school football season is here.

Here are the top teams in each conference, as well as our preseason picks and our initial rankings.

Arizona high school football conference previews, rankings

, The Republic | azcentral.comPublished 2:01 p.m. MT Aug. 17, 2017

No. 1 Chandler

Among the top 10 in the country by USA TODAY.

No. 2 Phoenix Mountain Pointe

Big, physical, fast and determined to finish strong this time.

No. 3 Gilbert Perry

QB Brock Purdy bigger, stronger and back for more after leading historic season.

No. 4 Mesa Red Mountain 

Lance Lawson on strong defense will be a difference maker.

No. 5 Phoenix Desert Vista

Coach Dan Hinds’ best team since the 2011 champs.

No. 6 Chandler Hamilton

QB Tyler Shough leads a strong senior class.

No. 7 Phoenix Pinnacle

Junior QB Spencer Rattler’s time to stack wins.

No. 8 Mesa Desert Ridge

Eight sophomore starters, but they’re really good.

No. 9 Phoenix Horizon

Under the radar no more.

No. 10 Chandler Basha

Coach Rich Wellbrock is ready to wake the monster.

More: Arizona high school football 2017 schedule – Zero Week

Mountain Pointe wide receiver Kenny Churchwell makes a one-handed catch.  (Photo: Arizona Republic)

Kenny Churchwell, Phoenix Mountain Pointe, 6-2, 185, Sr.

5 interceptions, 11 deflections in 2016.

American Family Insurance ALL-USA Arizona preseason football team 2017

, azcentral sportsPublished 5:09 p.m. MT Aug. 15, 2017 | Updated 4:53 p.m. MT Aug. 17, 2017

 

This is the 2017 American Family Insurance ALL-USA Arizona preseason football team.

Offense

Quarterback

Brock Purdy, Gilbert Perry, 6-1, 197, Sr.

All-Arizona last season, despite missing the first three games, and putting up 3,333 yards and 42 TDs passing and running for 842 yards and six scores.

Running back

Zidane Thomas, Peoria Centennial, 5-10, 205, Sr.

A 2,000-yard rusher last year, turned loose this week after having hardship approved by AIA.

Running back

Draycen Hall, Gilbert Higley, 5-8, 165, Sr.

Scored 40 TDs and had 3,908 all-purpose yards in 2016.

Center

Max Wilhite, Goodyear Desert Edge, 6-3, 300, Sr.

Fourth-year varsity starter.

Lineman

Matteo Mele, Tucson Salpointe Catholic, 6-6, 275, Sr.

Washington commit added 20 pounds since last season.

Lineman

David Watson, Tucson Amphitheater, 6-6, 300, Sr.

Committed to Arizona, where both of his parents played sport.

Lineman

Ralph Frias, Safford, 6-7, 320, Sr.

Started at left tackle since freshman year.

Lineman

Joey Ramos, Glendale Deer Valley, 6-4, 290, Sr.

Rated No. 1 offensive lineman in Arizona for 2017 season by azcentral sports.

Tight end

James Stagg, Phoenix Desert Vista, 6-4, 241, Sr.

Will remind people of former Desert Vista standout Zach Miller.

Wide receiver

Solomon Enis, Phoenix North Canyon, 6-4, 190, Sr.

Has ASU, UA in his final seven. 

Wide receiver

Gunner Romney, Chandler, 6-3, 200, Sr.

BYU commit had 70 catches for 1,309 yards, nine TDs last season.

All purpose

Lance Lawson, Mesa Red Mountain, 5-9, 185, Sr.

All-Arizona last year, he is a game changer on both sides of the ball, will be go-to guy on offense.

Defense

Tackle

Chris Manoa, Chandler, 6-0, 300, Sr.

41 tackles, 4 sacks, 8 QB hurries on 6A title team

Tackle

Kai Golden, Marana Mountain View, 6-2, 295, Sr.

40 tackles, 9 for losses in 2016

End

Aaron Romero, Mesa Skyline, 6-3, 245, Sr.

Ready to emerge on the scene as a pass rusher

End

Ty Robinson, Gilbert Higley, 6-5, 255, Jr.

With Jason Harris out, watch for this guy to blow it up in the backfield.

Linebacker

Calib McRae, Marana Mountain View, 6-1, 227, Jr.

39 tackles, 2 sacks in 4 games before injury last season.

Linebacker

Brayden Flynn, Chandler, 6-3, 220, Sr.

Transfer from Hamilton, had 14.5 sacks last year.

Linebacker

Giovanni Miranda, Scottsdale Saguaro, 6-4, 205, Sr.

Game changer on both sides of ball.

Back

Dom Hampton, Peoria Centennial, 6-2, 185, Sr.

30 solo tackles, 2 forced fumbles last year.

Back

Kenny Churchwell, Phoenix Mountain Pointe, 6-2, 185, Sr.

5 interceptions, 11 deflections in 2016.

Back

Josiah Bradley, Saguaro, 6-1, 194

Fast, athletic safety had 3 interceptions, 8 deflections during 4A title season.

Back

Donjae Logan, Mesa Desert Ridge, 5-11, 170, Sr.

Stanford commit had 33 solo tackles, 2 interceptions, 9 deflections in 2016.

Special teams

Kicker

Brayden Narveson, Scottsdale Desert Mountain, 6-0, 190, Sr.

Watch to emerge as team’s full-time kicker after he made a 51-yard field goal last season.

Punter

Carlos Ritchie, Laveen Cesar Chavez, 6-1, 175, Sr.

Good all-around athlete who averaged 43 yards a punt last season with seven inside the 20-yard line.

Long snapper

Slater Zellers, Scottsdale Notre Dame Prep, 6-1, 220, Sr.

The No.1-ranked long snapper in the nation by Kohl’s, he has committed to California.

Kick returner

Aiden Diggs, Goodyear Millennium, 6-0, 170, Sr.

He was second in the nation in average kickoff return yardage last season with 44.7 in 15 attempts.

Punt returner

Keishaud White, Phoenix Desert Vista, 5-6, 160, Sr.

Two years ago, the only two punts he returned went for touchdowns.

To suggest human-interest story ideas and other news, reach Obert at richard.obert@arizonarepublic.com or 602-316-8827. Follow him at twitter.com/azc_obert.

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.”