Mountain Pointe coach Norris Vaughan is pretty adamant about last season's success being just that - last year.

"It's over," he said. "This is a new deal. Last year, we were hungry, and we had success. Now, we're still hungry, but there are expectations."

As much as the veteran coach wants to keep the focus on the 2010 season those expectations wouldn't be what they are if not for a couple of incredible wins over Chandler Basha, this week's opponent.

So in all due respect it is important to look back at how two of the Pride's 12 wins came at the expense of Basha before today's 7 p.m. kickoff in Chandler.

In the first meeting, Basha had a 10-0 lead heading into the fourth quarter before the Pride exploded for three touchdowns and a 21-10 win.

In the second game, the Class 5A Division quarterfinals and was forced into overtime. Both teams scored on their opening possession of the extra session, but Mountain Pointe, which had the ball second, went for the 2-point conversion and the win after a penalty on Basha moved the ball to the 1-yard line.

Final: 22-21.

"They want to beat us bad, I can tell you that," senior H-back/defensive end JR Plote said. "I went to a camp where a couple of their players like (Basha lineman) Dhane Cumberledge were, and they think they should have won those games."

This year's game has a similar feel for Mountain Pointe as the Pride won its first two games, but followers of 5A-I football want to see what Mountain Pointe can do against a program like Basha compared to the previous two opponents.

"Last year everyone doubted us heading into the (first) Basha game because they were ranked," senior fullback/linebacker Izzy Marshall said. "They said it was our first test, and they expected us to fail. I think it is the same again. Everyone expects us to lose and go down hill from there."

The Bears (1-0) have lost two key components from last season's squad as do-everything quarterback Mike Benjamin graduated and head coach Tim McBurney was fired and replaced with Bernie Busken, a former Mesa Mountain View mentor who returned from Western New Mexico University where he was head coach.

"They are really talented, big, strong, fast and well coached just like last year," said Vaughan after seeing tape of the Basha's 30-0 win over Casa Grande. "It is going to take our best effort, and I benched a couple of players because I wasn't satisfied with their level of play."

Vaughan wouldn't divulge the names of those demoted, but it was pretty clear he was upset with the way the offense ran the ball in last week's 21-13 win over Highland.

In actuality, Vaughan wasn't happy with the whole team.

"I wasn't satisfied with our effort, our discipline, our play and we were not ready to play," he said. "I think we felt a little entitled. They also have to understand everyone is coming after us and they better come to play.

"We took our last opponent lightly, and we can't do that."

In other words, the Pride have something to prove to their coach as well.

"I don't believe in all of this emotional up and down stuff," said Vaughan, gesturing his hands in the same manner before flat-lining. "I want it right here every day, every play, every game. I want the same way - high intensity and ready to play.

"We were not (ready to play) last week, but Basha is a different level. Now they know that so I suspect we will play differently, but we have to stay at that level."

Plote, one of the team captains, said the team has benefitted from grinding out a win despite its poor effort against Highland.

"The coaches weren't happy, and we weren't happy with the way we played," he said. "It just shows you how far we have come. When I was a sophomore we just wanted to win. We didn't care how. Now, we have expectations and if we don't meet them then we aren't happy about it.

"What we know for sure is if we play like that again this week we are in trouble."


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