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 View’s Jacobby Dinwiddie (red) and Mountain Pointe’s Lacarea Pleasant-Johnson grew up with each other and had several one-on-one battles on Friday night. (Darryl Webb/MyNewsMesa.com)

Blood brothers battle it out on Friday night

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). 

After intercepting his pass, MP’s Isaiah Palo-Mao tries to jump over Chandler’s Jacob Conover (17) downfield. Watching is brother Matthew Palo-Mao.  |  By Greg Macafee AFN Sports Editor

Pride seeks revenge in game against Chandler tonight

Tonight, Sept. 8, two of the top high school football teams in Arizona will battle it out in a rematch of the 2016 Class 6A state championship – a game that ended with the Chandler Wolves capturing their second state title in three years by defeating Mountain Pointe Pride.

While their seasons ended differently in 2016, the two teams have traveled similar paths since that day in December.

Both teams have lost top players to graduation, including Isaiah Palo-Moa for Mountain Pointe and T.J. Green for Chandler, who were among other great players that contributed to their successes last season.

Players on both sides have also stepped into those vacated roles, hoping to contribute to another winning season.  

To gain experience and see where they stand with the best of the best, Chandler and Mountain Pointe have also faced off against some of the best teams in the nation.

Chandler (2-1) took on No. 2-ranked IMG Academy on Aug. 26,, falling 27-14; Mountain Pointe (1-1) five days later fell to the No. 9-ranked team in California, Chaminade. After the loss to Chaminade, Pride Head Coach Norris Vaughan said the Pride, will just have to get better.

“We gotta improve on everything, we got to get better at everything that we can do,” Vaughan said.

Early on this season, injuries have begun to plague both teams. The Pride started off the season without linemen Matthew Pola-mao and Cole Cundary. The Wolves also have been hit by injury when quarterback Jacob Conover suffered a shoulder injury against IMG, leaving him in a sling for a few weeks. 

As it is still early in the season, both teams still have time to recover from injuries and grow.

The Pride has showcased strength in the run game with the return of Gary Bragg, combined with junior running back Jakim McKinney. And as expected, the defensive trio of Kenny Churchwell, Delano Salgado and Shomari Hayes will be big for Mountain Pointe.

Expect the Mountain Pointe defense to face off against a talented offense led by senior quarterback Billy Bolger.

 Combined with a potent running game, he led the Wolves to an overtime, 35-28, win over Spencer Rattler and Pinnacle on Friday in his first varsity start, throwing for 240 yards and five touchdowns.

Chandler running back Drake Anderson was a big part of that potent offense, running for 106 yards. But he also added 95 yards through the air and caught four touchdowns.

This game will be big for both teams, it will give them a good idea of where they lie within the state.

As both teams recover from injuries and get better on the field, don’t expect these two teams to look quite the same in November. Last season, Mountain Pointe rolled over Chandler 52-7 in the regular season before falling to the Wolves in the state championship.

“We are looking for growth, were playing two nationally ranked teams, two weeks in a row,” Vaughan said. “This will only make us better, whether or not we can get over the hump and win these games, I don’t know. I mean we still have a chance to win, but they are really strong.”

Desert Vista vs Skyline

On the other side of Ahwatukee, the Desert Vista Thunder recovered from a season opening loss to Perry with a 29-19 win over Basha High School.

The Thunder did it with a sick quarterback who attacked a Basha defense for 270 yards and three touchdowns.

After the game, coach Daniel Hinds called quarterback Derek Kline a warrior after being able to lead his team to its first “W” this season.

The Thunder (1-1) looked like the team everyone has expected them to be, a potent offense with a highly touted, hard-hitting, defense. Now, it looks to carry that energy into the next matchup with Skyline (2-1) on Friday.

The Coyotes come off a big 41-3 victory over the Valley Vista Monsoon last week and will take to the road this Friday for the first time this season.

The Coyotes have been consistent on the ground this season with Aaron Wood and junior quarterback Steven Castle leading the way behind a big and strong offensive line.

Friday’s game will be a battle in the trenches as the offensive line of Skyline will face off with the three-headed monster of James Stagg, Larry Davis and Caleb Humphrey.

While the Coyotes may look to stick to their run game, look for the Thunder to play into whatever the Skyline defense gives them, as they have several weapons that can affect games in big ways.

 It has been Hinds’s mindset from the beginning and so far, it has seemed to work for the Thunder after a disappointing week-one loss.

Now, they seem to be back on track.

“We know we have the chemistry and the ability to be a good team, but we didn’t show that on the field against Perry,” senior wide out Jake White said after their victory over Basha.

-Contact Sports Editor Greg Macafee at gmacafee@timespublications.com or by phone at 585-610-2344. Follow Greg on Twitter @greg_macafee

By:  | September 7, 2017

Five things to watch this week in Super 25 football

Chandler vs. Mountain Pointe is the top game in Arizona: No. 10 Chandler, Ariz. (1-1) struggled to an 35-28 overtime defeat of Pinnacle (Phoenix) last week. With quarterback Jacob Conover out with an injury suffered in Chander’s season-opening loss to IMG, running back Drake Anderson picked up the slack with 106 yards rushing and four touchdown catches. Last year, Mountain Pointe handed Chandler its only in-state loss, 52-7, only to lose 36-17 to the Wolves in the 6A state championship. Mountain Pointe is averaging nearly 43 points a game, so this could be interesting, especially with Chandler a little banged up.

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

 

Churchwell Ready To Be A Leader On “Angry” Pride

The Mountain Pointe Pride are known for their punishing defense, and they were among the best in 2016 with Isaiah Pola-Mao leading the way. Pola-Mao is now at USC, but the other Pride safety from that defense, Kenny Churchwell, is hoping to pick up where the MP defense left off.

“(Pola-Mao) helped me as a player and a coach,” Churchwell said. “He helped me change my attitude because I was hot-headed.  I can’t lie – I was hot-headed. I turned into a calm, patient, ready to hit somebody…take all my energy off that. He taught me a lot, and I’m ready to show it to the next person at Mountain Pointe.” 

Churchwell said his chemistry with Pola-Mao made it so they always knew where the other one was on the field without having to say a word. It was a special bond, and he sees something similar being formed with senior defensive back/slot receiver Delano Salgado.

Churchwell is also channelling former Mountain Pointe running back/linebacker Rashie Hodge Jr. as a leader and sees a strong senior group ready to lead the Pride.

“I’m trying to be the best, one of the best, to ever come out of Mountain Pointe,” Churchwell said. “It’s not just me as a leader, we have Delano Salgado, we’ve got (quarterback) Nick Wallerstedt,..We have a lot of people and a lot of weapons. We are ready for the season.”

Recruiting-wise, the Mountain Pointe safety holds offers from Arizona, Arizona State, Cal, Utah, Washington State,  Wyoming, Boise State, Colorado State and Hawaii.

The Pride are hungrier than ever after making an appearance in the 6A state championship game last year but falling to the Chandler Wolves. The group is laser-focused and return plenty of aforementioned talent as well as running back Gary Bragg, who’s season ended after an ACL injury five games into the season. 

“We changed mentally and physically. We’re tired of getting second place, we’re tired of getting close to the championship and not winning it,” Churchwell said.  “We’re angry. We’re ready to play. We’re all tired, and we’re going to step up as leaders – me, Nick, Delano, (defensive back Marshawn Gibson). We’re going to step up as a team, and we’re going to win. I promise.”

Mountain Pointe begins their 2017 season on Friday at Sandra Day O’Connor. 

Pride Without Another Star?

azcentral’s Richard Obert reported that the Pride will be without Isaiah’s younger brother, junior defensive tackle Matthew Pola-Mao after an “undisclosed injury.” Pola-Mao had 52 tackles and six tackles for loss last year as a sophomore and led a dominant defensive line with Shomari Hayes.

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

Arizona Sports Awards Big Schools Football Athlete of Year finalists: T.J. Green, Isaiah Pola-Mao, Brock Purdy

, azcentral sportsPublished 5:42 p.m. MT Dec. 10, 2016 | Updated 12:48 p.m. MT Dec. 11, 2016

The Arizona Sports Awards, presented by Arby’s, will honor an Athlete of the Year in every sport at the spring 2017 event.

At the end of each season, azcentral sports will announce three finalists for each Athlete of the Year award. The finalists are listed alphabetically.

All three will be invited to the awards show where the winner will be announced live. More information on the spring 2017 event will be announced soon.

April 30, 2017

ASU Gammage   |   Doors at 7pm, Show at 8pm   |   Speaker: Larry Fitzgerald

 

Isaish-Sports-Awards-3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Phoenix Mountain Pointe safety and wide receiver Isaiah Pola-Mao is a finalist for the Arizona Sports Awards, presented by Arby’s, Big Schools Football Athlete of the Year. (Photo: Tom Tingle/azcentral sports)

Isaiah Pola-Mao

School: Phoenix Mountain Pointe

Year: Senior

Positions: Safety, wide receiver

Pola-Mao was a big-play receiver, but he left a legacy on defense, a three-time All-Arizona selection at safety. He had seven interceptions as a sophomore, four his junior year and 10 this season, including six in the last three playoff games.

He returned two of his three interceptions for touchdowns in the 47-21 6A Conference quarterfinal win over Mesa Desert Ridge. He had an interception in the 21-14 semifinal win over Mesa Red Mountain and two more in the state final against Chandler, a 37-17 loss, in which he injured his shoulder.

“I thought he was the best player in the state,” said Mountain Pointe coach Norris Vaughan, who believes Pola-Mao will be playing in the NFL some day.

Pola-Mao, an imposing figure at 6-foot-4, 200 pounds, was arguably the biggest hitter in the state. It was hard to get around him. He had 100 tackles, 31 solo, this year. He broke up 18 passes and caused two fumbles, including one in the championship game.

On offense, Pola-Mao had his biggest season, catching 27 passes for 640 yards (23.7 yards per catch) and nine TDs. His performance in the first meeting with Chandler was off the charts. He caught two TD passes, set up another with a diving grab near the goal line and intercepted a pass in the 52-7 win.

Mountain Pointe was ranked among the top 10 teams in the nation most of the season with Pola-Mao the heart and soul of the team.

“It was awesome,” Pola-Mao said of the season. “If I could redo it, I’d do it. I was glad I could play the past few years with this team.

“The interceptions, honestly, it started up front with the D-line, with Khalif (Ravenell), Shomari (Hayes) and my brother (Matthew). They get to the quarterback and cause pressure. I’m just doing my job.”