The Mountain Pointe defense has seen a lot of changes.
The unit went from a 50 front to a 40, the coaches are collaborating more with no official defensive coordinator in place after Jeff Decker decided to take a lesser role this season after four seasons and the communication to the players has been aided by the addition of signage on the sidelines.
The results, aided by top level talent, have been pretty special as the Pride (8-0) tied the school record of three shutouts in a season last week and have given up just 82 points on the season as they get ready to host Corona del Sol (1-7) Friday.
And a good portion of touchdowns allowed weren’t against the No. 1 defense as 42 of the points have come in the fourth quarter when the first team was yucking it up on the sidelines, while Hamilton scored on a pick six and Bishop Gorman returned a kickoff for a score.
“Our defense plays hard,” Pride coach Norris Vaughan, who has a hand in the offensive and defensive game plan. “They play quick and they are physical. And they hit hard.
“And we have some smart coaches. We are a multiple front defense. We have a three-man and four-man front. It might look like a 50, talk like a 50, but it’s not always the case.”
The unit is anchored up front by ends Charlie Trevino (5 sacks) and Mitchell Fraboni with Bruce Hester playing well inside, while the defensive back field has two Division I recruits in safety Jalen Brown (Oregon) and cornerback Dominique Fenstermacher, but safety Markell Simmons (3 interceptions) and corner back Timmy Hernandez have been just as impactful.
“Our overall talent in the secondary allows us to do a lot of things,” Vaughan said. “They have great skills and make great decisions.”
The linebacker corps have been praised all year by Vaughan and showed just how good the unit is when it lost its top player — Wesley Payne — for almost three full games and didn’t show much drop off.
“We were just grinding out there on the field,” senior linebacker Isaiah Jones said. “We know if everyone does their job not many offenses are going to get a lot of yards against us.”
Trey Lauer, Austin Cronen, Keondre Churchwell, who joined the lineup with Payne injured, and Jones have been making plays all year that started when Cronen stopped Gorman on a four-and-goal.
It was a sign of things to come as the opposing offenses are averaging just 175.9 yards (80.3 rushing, 95.6 passing) a game.
“It’s a totally different vibe and it has worked out for the best,” said Brown, a four-year starter at safety. “They all have a motor and they want to make plays. We feed off each other and it’s helped our chemistry.
“It’s the best we’ve had since I’ve been here.”
• Contact writer: (480) 898-7915 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @JSkodaAFN.