The jump in talent Mountain Pointe has to contend with this week is significant.
The last three opponents - North, Chavez and Maryvale - have gone a combined 1-8 to start the year and will struggle to combine for as many wins
Chandler, this week’s opponent does, has in the first month of the season.
The Pride hasn’t played a significant opponent in a month and the starting lineup has barely played more than two quarters since the first game of the year — four weeks by the time Mountain Pointe travels to Chandler on Friday — against Bishop Gorman.
It could be a problem in that there is a big difference between jumping off the side of the pool to taking a leap from the 20-foot high dive.
Unless it’s not.
“I don’t think that kind of stuff matters,” Pride coach Norris Vaughan said. “We went all summer without playing anyone and beat Gorman. Maybe we fell into some bad habits, but we will get them worked out. The problem is not playing four quarters, but we have been doing some extra conditioning.”
Vaughan believes the Pride (4-0) won’t have trouble adjusting to the speed and level of play of the Wolves, who lost 52-31 to nationally-ranked St. John Bosco in California on Saturday, because of the tempo Mountain Pointe practices at throughout the week.
“The biggest thing is we haven’t had as much competition,” he said. “Honestly, the most (competition) we’ve had other than Gorman is the competition we’ve had in practice.
“It might impact us the first series, but we will be OK.”
Pride quarterback Antonio Hinojosa said after the Chavez win that the team has a made a point of working hard in preparation for this week.
“We’ve had some games that we knew weren’t going to be competitive,” he said, “but we practiced liked we were playing Chandler or Hamilton because we know we can’t play down to the level of our opponents. If we do then we won’t be as sharp when we need to be.”
Mountain Pointe will need to be sharp the next four weeks as the game against the Wolves is just the start of a four-week stretch similar to the one that made the Pride’s season a year ago.
After traveling to Chandler, the Pride host Hamilton in a rematch of last year’s state title game, head to Desert Vista for the 17th annual Ahwatukee Bowl and host Brophy on Oct. 11.
“It’s good because we need the competition,” Vaughan said. “We think we have a really good team at the same time, the next four weeks will give us an idea of how good we really are. We had a great performance against Gorman but haven’t had to match that level of intensity since.
“Chandler is as talented as anyone on offense and the defense has been better. Hamilton is Hamilton. I don’t know much about DV and Brophy yet, but they are always going to be good.”
The Thunder’s 17-3 loss on Friday to Boulder Creek has cast a dark cloud over the 2013 season.
It’s a game that just about anyone south of Anthem expected the Thunder to win with ease, but the Jaguars outplayed Desert Vista for four quarters.
It was one of those cases where if the Thunder got off to a hot start they’d probably win going away, but when an underdog is given life early on and the opposition does nothing to squash it, it spells trouble.
The defense, once again, was the stronger unit but eventually wore down as the offense had only one second-half first down.
The Thunder offense is predicated on timing and in the two defeats — in which they’ve scored a total of three points — it has been like everyone is a different time zone.
The fly has yielded only big yardage once or twice in the two losses and the pass routes on most plays seem to be 5-yard outs and hitches. Not sure if it is by design or if quarterback, Cade van Raaphorst, is locking in on his outlet receivers.
Either way, things need to change as Desert Vista hosts two quality Division II programs (Marana Mountain View and Cienega) and nationally-ranked Mountain Pointe the next three weeks before traveling to DII-power Centennial.
The coaches can only say so much and aired their concerns in the team huddle after the loss. Sometimes it comes down to the players working it out on their own. It might be that time.
“We tried to (already), but I guess we are going to have to try something else because what we are doing now isn’t really working,” senior Jason King said.
Contact writer: (480) 898-7915 or JSkoda@ahwautkee.com. Follow him on Twitter @JSkodaAFN.