LAS VEGAS – Playing offensive line can be described as mini head-on car accidents play after play.
It can be jarring and the next day the body aches after the pounding.
Nick Carman will take that any day over the one he had last Thursday when he was in a car accident on his drive to school at the intersection of 44th Street and Warner.
The Pride’s starting left tackle was left dazed and his availability for Friday’s Sollenberger Classic was in question, but luckily he came out it pretty much unscathed. Unfortunately, his passenger and teammate wasn’t as fortunate as the player (choosing not to use his name) apparently had surgery but is fine now.
“I can’t really remember what happened after turning left,” Carman said after Thursday’s practice at Faith Lutheran High. “I think the airbag hit me in the chest or the face. It taught me to be more cautious because it could have ended up a lot worse.”
The 6-foot-3, 240-pound junior is one of two new starters on the offensive line as he and junior right guard Clayton Dry, who moved to Arizona from Wyoming in July, join junior center Collin Lambdin, senior right tackle Kyle Spight and senior left guard Natrell Curtis to form what could be one of the top offensive line’s in the state.
“We’ve come together as a family and everyone is doing their job of trying to get better,” Carman said. “We seem to have a natural bond and came together right away.”
Dry, whose brother Conner is a freshman at Mountain Pointe, played last season for Rawlins (Wyoming) where he was named all-conference at the 3A level. He has good feet and lower center of gravity and is adjusting to being part of large program where football is king.
“It’s been hard but I am getting used to it,” said the 6-foot-2, 286-pounder. “Coming from where I was where I had the pressure on me to be one of the players to make the team great to being just one of 64 guys. It feels great. I’ve been learning new stuff and I’ve gotten a lot better than I was.”
Mountain Pointe coach Norris Vaughan has seen the development he wanted from the line in the four weeks of camp.
“They are doing real well,” Vaughan said. “Everyone worked hard and has done well.”
One of the nice coincidences of the Pride’s trip to Las Vegas is the fact that Vaughan’s son, Jason, and family live in a nearby suburb.
Vaughan’s wife, Ellen, brought Jason’s two children – Anneliese, 7, and Max, 3, - to practice on Thursday where Anneliese showed off good mechanics throwing the ball.
Her dad played quarterback for Vaughan in Georgia at North Springs and runs a Rebel Camps for quarterbacks in the Vegas area.
“It will be great getting a chance to see them during the football season because that doesn’t happen very often,” said Vaughan’s younger son, Drew, who is the Pride’s quarterback coach.
The Pride finish Thursday practices with a fun activity.
This week it was a water balloon toss contest when a group of players selected by position groups toss a balloon back and forth. Each completed toss moves back five yards.
The quarterbacks – Antonio Hinojosa and Garvin Alston – won it when linebacker Trey Lauer couldn’t wrangle Wesley Payne’s toss without having it bust.
Mountain Pointe wide receiver/defensive back Jalen Brown took extra time loosening up compared to the rest of his teammates, but eventually put on the pads and went through all of the motions of practice.
He said he was good to go for the matchup against Bishop Gorman.
Of course practice is different than game speed so Vaughan is hesitant to call him 100 percent.
“Every game you have to get used to game speed,” he said. “We will be going against someone bigger and better than our scout team. It’s different.”
Well done, Kip
Not many high school principals have the sports background that Mountain Pointe’s Bruce Kipper does.
And even fewer would be able to stand in front of a nationally ranked football team like he did on Thursday with creditability and deliver a poignant message.
Without getting into too much detail, he talked about how they are playing for all the players who have come through the program since Vaughan took over in 2009 when the team went 12-1 after going 2-8 the year before.
The team will have plenty of time before the 7:07 p.m. kickoff on Friday at Fertitta Field.
They will have a study hall, rest, “chance to meditate” and maybe go to the movie, according to Vaughan.
Defense is ready
Payne, who is considered one of the state’s top linebackers, said the Pride defense will be up to the challenge of facing the Gorman offense that features quarterback Randall Cunningham Jr., running back Daniel Stewart and tight end Alize Jones.
And it doesn’t matter how bright the lights get.
“The national TV (Fox Sports1) doesn’t mean anything once you get in the game,” he said. “We are ready physically and mentally to get the job done. We are not worried about anything else.”
Out of the gate
Mountain Pointe is playing on the road against a perennial national contender in a season opener where neither team has had a chance to have a live scrimmage.
There could be some stumbles, but no matter how they start Vaughan said the key will be to keep it simple.
“We have to keep playing and stay the course,” he said. “If you start bad you have to keep playing. We have to play every play. It’s a big game, but it is not the Super Bowl. It’s the first game of the year. It’s not going to define us.”
Contact writer: (480) 898-7915 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @JSkodaAFN.