With the building’s namesake in attendance, Karl Keifer Stadium was brimming with anticipation and excitement Friday evening.
That excitement quickly turned to despair, as a trio of first quarter turnovers put the Mountain Pointe Pride in a hole most teams would not be able to overcome.
But most teams don’t have a player like Delano Salgado.
The senior running back was the most effective of the three backs Mountain Pointe utilized, as he scored the Pride’s first touchdown of the game on a 37 yard carry. He carried the Pride to victory as they defeated Highland high school 14-13 to improve to 6-1.
“He’s really important,” said starting quarterback Nick Wallerstedt. “We like to go to him when we’re down because he can pick us up. He can make a big play anytime.”
The first half of the contest was dominated by Highland, as they forced three first quarter turnovers and jumped out to a quick 13-0 lead. They stifled the vaunted Mountain Pointe running attack and moved methodically down the field. Highland likely would’ve escaped this game with a victory if not for their kicking, as Highland missed two field goals under 30 yards, one of which came in the game’s final five minutes.
Nevertheless, Mountain Pointe emerged victorious, snatching victory from the jaws of defeat for this year’s homecoming game. Fittingly, the homecoming game’s biggest player also happens to be the homecoming king.
“It’s so important to win on homecoming,” Salgado said as he sported a dashing sash and crown. “We haven’t lost on this field in I don’t know how long, so tonight was great.”
Credit is also due to the Mountain Pointe defense. After allowing a touchdown pass late in the first quarter, the Pride defense tightened up and epitomized the old football adage of bending but not breaking. The Highland offense would consistently move their way down the field, but when they reached the redzone, the defense tightened up. They forced field goals when Highland was looking for touchdowns, and that ultimately is what decided the game.
It was not the strongest start for Wallerstedt, who appeared rattled after an interception on one of his first throws of the evening. He proceeded to fumble snaps on two separate drives later in the first quarter as Mountain Pointe failed to mount any plays of semblance. Many coaches would’ve made a quarterback change or lost faith in their starter, but head coach Norris Vaughn did neither.
“I didn’t think it was his fault,” said Vaughn, referring to the two first quarter fumbles. “I just told him to keep playing and do what we do.”
Wallerstedt did recover from his rough start, as he remained poised in the pocket and managed the game well for the Pride. He was also incredibly effective running the ball, as he picked up multiple first downs with his legs. Overall, Wallerstedt provided the intensity and leadership Mountain Pride needed to emerge from this slugfest victorious.
“I told the team we’re not losing this game,” said a stoic Wallerstedt. “We stepped on the gas and we got angry. We needed to win this game.”
While it wasn’t pretty, Mountain Pointe escaped Friday night with a win and cemented their place atop the 6A central division standings.