Norris Vaughan has some bluster about him.
The Mountain Pointe coach gets to talking and overstates some facts, but almost always stops and corrects himself.
He just loves talking football so much that he gets lost in the exuberance and overstates a thing or two.
For example, he loves to say junior Charlie Trevino is the smallest defensive tackle around when in reality at 6-foot-1 and 210-pounds he has some size to him.
Ideal measurables for a DT? Of course not, but it isn’t like Trevino is 5-10, 180.
What Vaughan is getting at is the idea that Trevino is the epitome of the Pride’s defense.
The junior barely started on the junior varsity last season, worked his butt off during the offseason, and now leads the team with three sacks after getting his first start of his career against Hamilton in Week 1.
“On defense we are all about speed, quickness and positioning,” Vaughan said. “We are pretty good tacklers. We make up for our lack of size with our mental approach and toughness.”
They are doing it with a lot of players getting their first shot at varsity action.
The Mountain Pointe defense had some nice pieces coming back in safety Jalen Brown, linebacking brothers Landry and Wesley Payne, and the big athletic bodies of Kenny Lacy and Natrell Curtis to give the unit a solid foundation.
They have performed well but the reason the Pride’s defense is considered one of the best halfway through the season is because of the level of play of the newcomers as No. 1 Mountain Pointe (5-0) travels to Phoenix College on Friday to take on No. 5 Brophy (4-2).
Senior Ciyre Simmons is a special teams demon and solid cover cornerback who plays in passing situations or spells Travonn White and Thomas Warren.
Linebacker Aaron Blank has been solid at linebacker, senior Jimmy Holtrop has been starting at free safety all season, senior David Jakpor has found a niche in the defensive line rotation along with Trevino and junior Mitchell Fraboni.
All teams go through transition after all there is no red-shirting like college to stagger the talented players. Coaches have to adjust their depth and rotation every year, but Mountain Pointe’s group of new contributors are a big reason why they’ve ascended to Division I’s top team.
A program as big and talented as Mountain Pointe always has first-time starters as a senior like Simmons, who got his first career start against Mesa.
The key is treating that position of special teams like it is as important as any other role on the team and never letting time on the sidelines go to waste.
“You just work at it and get better anyway you can,” Simmons said. “It can be tough, but you are here for the team, not yourself. We play for each other. I’m getting my chance now and I’m doing the best I can.”
It’s attitude that falls perfectly in line with what Vaughan preaches. He has weeded out plenty of players whom leaned more toward the selfish side over the years.
“It’s all about the team at Mountain Pointe,” Vaughan said. “Twenty years from now the kids and I will be gone but what you accomplish as a team is recorded. Some people are selfish and don’t look at it that way. I despise that attitude and we’ve gotten away from it.”
It has led to a team defense type of style that has served the Pride well.
In five games, the defense enters the game against the explosive Broncos allowing just 177.6 yards (113.6 rushing/64.0 passing) and 15.2 points a game.
“We work well together, but I know I have to keep working that way,” Trevino said. “I feel like we have a really competitive atmosphere here. There are a ton of athletes. If you don’t perform the way they want you to you could lose your spot.
“A lot of first-year guys on defense are getting the job done because we are playing as a unit.”
The unit has performed well against the big three — Hamilton, Desert Visa and Chandler — but might face its biggest test of the season in Brophy.
Coming into the football season the Brophy offense was billed as one that could threaten state records with the speed of Devon Allen, the arm of Tyler Bruggman, the power running of Marche Dennard and a plethora of other explosive options.
Now the Pride’s defense is one more good performance away from running the table on the same four teams that were responsible for last year’s five defeats, including Brophy’s 28-3 win in the first round of the playoffs.
“Last year’s games don’t mean anything,” Vaughan said. “This is a different team. We’ve done some good things, but now we have another big game in front of us.”
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