No one has been able to beat Mountain Pointe’s football team this season, but the flu bug is making a game out of it.
“Everyone’s got the flu,” explained Pride coach Norris Vaughan as he tried to get his depleted team ready for a state 5A-I quarterfinal playoff game with Chandler Basha tonight in Karl Kiefer Stadium.
The Pride beat the Bears, 21-10, in the third game of the regular season when they came from behind to score all 21 points in the fourth quarter.
“We’ve changed our defense and the offensive has changed a little to suit what our kids do,” Vaughan added. “We’ve improved, but they’ve improved, too.”
The Bears still have Michael Benjamin, who threw 35 times for 252 yards, at quarterback.
He might be the best quarterback in the state right now,” Vaughan said. “That kid at Desert Vista (Cody Sokol) is good, but Benjamin can run, too.”
And he does it behind a hefty offensive line.
“The only line bigger in this area is probably the (Arizona) Cardinals,” Vaughan said.
Mountain Pointe quarterback Austin Blom attempted a season-high 16 passes in the first game against the Bears, but it was the running game of De’Andre Currie and Davon Jones that put the points on the board for the Pride.
The winner will advance to the state semifinal game in two weeks.
Basha (8-3) is coming off a 33-7 playoff victory over Phoenix St. Mary’s while Mountain Pointe (11-0) ran over Mesa Westwood, 49-14, in another first-round tilt.
“Basha is at a whole different level,” Vaughan explained. “Hamilton, Chandler, Brophy, Basha and Mountain Pointe can all be mentioned in the same content. Those are the top five teams in the state.”
In the meantime, Vaughan, who has also been ailing with the bug, has tried to practice with a limited squad.
“Maybe practice is over-rated,” he said. “At least the kids think it is, but once you’ve perfected a skill you just try to play against what the other team does. I’ve changed game plans during a game some times this year.”
The flu has been the biggest medical problem Mountain Pointe has had this season.
“We’ve had pretty good depth and we’ve been lucky with injuries this year,” Vaughan added. “But this flu thing is disappointing. We did everything we could. We made sure the kids washed their hands and we changed mouthpieces every couple of games. I’ve washed my hands so many times they’re chapped, but there is just so much of it going around.”
That depth could be a factor, at least early in the game.
We’ll probably have some kids starting that didn’t play last time,” Vaughan said, “but we’re still hoping those (ailing) kids will be ready to go.”