Pride advance to second round of 6A football playoffs vs. No. 1 Chandler

Mountain Pointe quarterback Nick Wallerstedt prepares to hand off to sophomore back Eli Sanders during the Pride’s 40-7 playoff-opening rout of Brophy on Friday.

Mountain Pointe coach Rich Wellbrock has been saying all season that the Pride would be a different team come November.

Friday, in the eighth-seeded Pride’s 6A playoff opening game with No. 9 Brophy, there were signs that Wellbrock was right.

Mountain Pointe was in control from start to finish, in a 40-7 romp at Karl Kiefer Stadium in Ahwatukee that, based on seeding, was the most evenly matched game in the first round.

If they want to go any farther, the Pride (7-4) must continue to be at their best because their victory earned them a quarterfinal game this Friday at 7 p.m. at top-seeded Chandler (10-1). The Wolves’ only setback this season was an opening-game loss in California to national power Centennial.

“I think we played well defensively all night, and had a couple great fourth-down stops,” Wellbrock said. “It helps when the offense is on the field a little longer, too.”

Brophy’s only score came on a kickoff return.

On their second possession, the Pride faced a tough third down. Out of the shotgun, senior quarterback Nick Wallerstedt faked a handoff to running back Jakim McKinney and ran 44 yards for a touchdown.

That was Wallerstedt's longest of six touchdowns – four rushing and two passing – and it seemed to light a fire under the Pride.

“It definitely ignited us,” Wallerstedt said. “We were kind of taking it slow and simple at first and then we had that breakout play, and it really helped us to get down and score.”

Normally a high-octane passing team, the Broncos were held to just 75 passing yards and 116 total yards. Brophy had to resort to quick screen passes to offset the Pride’s fierce pass rush, and tight downfield-coverage, a common tactic by Pride foes this season.

Mountain Pointe intercepted Brophy sophomore quarterback Jalen Kitna twice.

The Broncos’ only drive into the red zone, with the clock running out in the first half, ended when Kitna threw a jump-ball that Pride senior cornerback Lacarea Pleasant-Johnson picked off.

“The momentum changed a lot. It was right before the half, and we’re a really good second-half team,” Pleasant-Johnson said. “The coaches put me in a great spot to make a pick, and it felt really good.”

McKinney exited the game with a leg injury after a long run in the third quarter. The medical staff gave him treatment and cleared him to return, but with the game under control the coaches elected to hold him out. Wellbrock said McKinney should be ready for Chandler

In McKinney’s absence, sophomore Eli Sanders carried the load with 19 carries for 80 yards.

 “Eli’s been pretty great for us for the last five or six weeks,” Wellbrock said. “We knew he could jump in there when he was needed.” 

 Mountain Pointe 40, Brophy 7 

Brophy                         0  7 0 0 –   7

Mountain Pointe          14 14 6 6 – 40

First

MP – Wallerstedt 44 run (Abercrombie kick), 5:32.

MP – Wallerstedt 16 run (Rasmussen kick), 1:16.

Second

MP – Washington 69 pass from Wallerstedt (Abercrombie kick), 8:33.

BRO – Ogbonna 80 kick return (Garcia kick), 8:19.

MP – Wallerstedt 7 run (Abercrombie kick), 6:56.

Third

MP – Wallerstedt 5 run (Abercrombie pass failed), 10:18.

Fourth

MP – Washington 35 pass from Wallerstedt (kick failed), 10:01.

Team statistics

                                    Brophy             MP

First downs                     10                    9

Rush-yards                   21-41                 34-232

Comp-Att-Int               14-27-3               7-14-0

Pass yard                       75                    147

Total yards                    116                   379

Fumbles/lost                  3/1                   0/0

Penalties                       6-50                  7-68

Individual statistics

Rushing

Brophy – White 17-46, Gonzales 2-1, Brown 1- -3, Kitna 1- -3. Mountain Pointe – Wallerstedt 9-99, Sanders 19-80, McKinney 6-53.

Passing

Brophy – Kitna 11-20-44-2, Wondrash 3-7-31-1. Mountain Pointe – Wallerstedt 7-13-147-0, Abercrombie 0-1-0-0.

Receiving

Brophy – White 5-34, Velez 3-18, Burke 3-12, Grindey 2-6, Jones 1-5. Mountain Pointe – Washington 3-111, Davis 3-19, Williams 1-17.

Contact Eric Newman at enewman@timespublications.com and follow him on Twitter @enewmanwrites.

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