The bad news for Mountain Pointe came before the game started, and the missteps continued as soon as its state semifinal game began.
Injuries and sitting a player the entire game for discipline reasons forced coach Norris Vaughan to play without a couple of starters, including two college-bound players. The frustration continued as soon as Mountain Pointe’s offense touched the ball.
The laundry list of Mountain Pointe’s first quarter mishaps:
—A turnover on its first play from scrimmage.
—Fumbled a kickoff.
—A roughing the kicker penalty.
—Two personal fouls in one of Desert Ridge’s first drives.
Not exactly what you would expect from a nationally ranked and experienced team. But when you have a defense like Mountain Pointe’s, it’s easy to sweep the mistakes aside and regroup.
All Mountain Pointe gave up was just nine points, including a 50-yard field goal by Landon Whitlow, in the first half and didn’t allow Desert Ridge to get a first down in the second half until 2:37 remained in the game. After cleaning up its act, Mountain Pointe’s playmakers then took over as well in the team’s 27-9 win at Tempe McClintock.
“That was one of the greatest defensive performances I’ve ever seen,” Vaughan told his team after the game.
Mountain Pointe now just has one more game to play this season to see if it can return home with the school’s first ever championship football trophy.
To achieve that, it’ll have to defeat the current king of Arizona high school football and the team that defeated Mountain Pointe in last year’s final — Hamilton.
The players who tend to stand out for Mountain Pointe did so again during Arizona’s high school version of Monday Night Football. Jalen Brown caught a perfect pass from Antonio Hinojosa in double coverage for a touchdown in the first quarter.
Wesley Payne’s bulldozed his way for a score in a fourth quarter drive that saw him carry the ball five times for 40 yards to put Mountain Pointe up 20-9. And Paul Lucas sprinted to the end zone after completing a 46-yard dash that added the final points for Mountain Pointe.
But the story of the night was Mountain Pointe’s defense, which never allowed Desert Ridge’s 2,000-yard rusher, Taren Morrison, and his teammates to break free the entire night.