Mountain Pointe football coach Vaughan turned Pride into powerhouse
PHOENIX – In 2008, Mountain Pointe High’s football team finished with a 2-8 record and wasn’t even regarded as the best program in Ahwatukee, much less Arizona.
A year later, the school hired Norris Vaughan as head coach and the Pride flipped their fortunes, finishing with a 12-1 record and advancing to the the state semifinals.
Vaughan has continued to build on that quick turnaround, transforming Mountain Pointe into a perennial playoff contender.
The Pride, after a 7-0 start, sit atop the Class 6A rankings this season as they prepare to take on second-ranked Desert Ridge High in Mesa Friday night.
Since Vaughan took over, Mountain Pointe has an 82-15 record, reaching the state playoffs every season and creating a culture of winning at the school that has stirred support throughout the community.
From flags to stickers to school colors, it’s hard to go a Friday night in Ahwatukee without seeing the signs of support for Mountain Pointe football.
Vaughan and the Pride delivered the school’s first state championship in 2013, finishing that season 14-0 and ranked No. 5 in the nation by MaxPreps. Vaughan was named Arizona coach of the year by several publications and the Arizona High School Coaches Association that year.
Though the results are hard to ignore – Vaughan’s teams have reached at least the state semifinals in all but one season – Vaughan said he immerses his coaching staff and his players in the process of building a great football program first.
“I’m concerned about results but I don’t concern myself with results as much as I do the process,” Vaughan said.
“I let (the players) lead. We want them to grow and become successful people as much as, or more than, successful players. We try to develop their character, class, courage, and it all starts with commitment. Through practice you develop confidence and if you do all those things, that equals champions. That’s our philosophy.”
Assistant coach Eric Lauer, who is in his 12th season on the Pride’s coaching staff and eighth under Vaughan, said he saw an obvious change in the culture when Vaughan took over the program.
“Attitude is a choice, attitude is huge,” Lauer said. “That’s the thing that probably changed here first. They were tired of losing and when (Vaughan) came in, (the players) said ‘what do you want us to do, coach? Because what we’ve been doing hasn’t been working.’
“It turned things around right away.”
Vaughan said the players have bought into his philosophy, and he credits their change in attitude for making the program dominant.
Senior quarterback Noah Grover, who recently was lost for the remainder of the season because of a fractured femur, said that, under Vaughan, there’s a sense of pride when players take the field to represent Mountain Pointe football.
“It means a lot,” Grover said. “The atmosphere around here, and the guys in the locker room, it’s amazing.”