The ball seemingly floated in the air forever.

The only thing that had more hang time was Raynon Blackshire, or at least that's the way he tells it.

The Mountain Pointe senior nose guard is very athletic for his size, cemented by the fact that the 5-foot-10, 308-pounder can grab the rim on a 10-foot basketball hoop.

He had a chance to show off his hops toward the end of the first half against Hamilton last week when Huskies quarterback Blake Kemp scrambled to his right. After feeling some pressure, Kemp threw the ball to the middle of the field.

Blackshire, who was defending against a screen, leapt up to snag the ball and came down with it before being tackled.

"I went up and got it," he said. "It happened so fast. I just reached up and before I knew it I was getting tackled. I didn't like getting hit."

During the film session and the days that followed, his teammates let him have it about his vertical leap.

"He can touch the rim, but on that one I don't think you could have fit a credit card under his feet," defensive lineman Detorrion Harvey said. "It wasn't his best jump."

The fact that Blackshire takes the ribbing in stride says a lot about his personality and his standing on the team.

"He's a leader and well liked," Mountain Pointe coach Norris Vaughan said. "He is a great player, too."

Blackshire, as of now, is concentrating solely on defense after being an All-East Valley Region center last season.

"I like concentrating on defense," he said. "It keeps me fresh and stronger. If they need me on the offensive then I'd do whatever they asked me to do, but right now I'm good with just playing defense."

The move came because the offensive line has some new talent up front coming back from injury (Natrel Curtis) and having to sit out (Kenny Lacy) after transferring, but also because Blackshire is once again struggling with his weight.

He knows that he could stand to lose some weight and he takes it seriously, but it's something that he struggles with and has for some time.

"I do what I can," he said. "I know if I lost 15 pounds it would help me as a player. I'd be quicker and have more stamina."

For Vaughan, or any coach, it is a delicate situation.

The veteran coach has come across plenty of players who struggle with their weight. Vaughan has a good enough relationship with his players where he can take a light-hearted but serious approach when it comes to Blackshire's weight.

"We put them on diets and everything else," he said. "It's an individual thing. Then they come out and pull something and then they can't condition. It is something you have to monitor closely."

One thing Vaughan doesn't have to worry about with Blackshire is his level of play. Vaughan has said Blackshire is one of the best defensive linemen in the state, but because he is only 5-10 he probably won't get the college looks he deserves.

"He plays hard," Vaughan said. "He makes a difference."

The interception wasn't the only play Blackshire - whose father, Raynon Sr., was a professional boxer - made against the Huskies. He had several other keys tackles, including a great read of a screen thrown to Kendyl Taylor that Blackshire sniffed out and brought down the shifty Hamilton wide receiver.

"We played a pretty good game as a defense but if you don't win you can't be happy," said Blackshire, who isn't worried about college, saying he is concentrating on his current team and everything else will take care of itself. "I think the defense is the heart of our team. The offense is coming along and as a defense we have to play good enough to get the job done until the offense really gets going."

They get another shot this week at Mesa, which is coming off a 38-6 loss to Desert Vista.

"We think we are going to win the rest of our games," Blackshire said. "It starts this week and we have to be ready to go because (Mesa) probably isn't happy with the way they played, either.

"We know if we play as best as we can we are going to be hard to beat most weeks."

Contact writer: (480) 898-7915 or Follow him on Twitter @JSkodaAFN.

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