Mountain Pointe coach Rich Wellbrock

Mountain Pointe football coach Rich Wellbrock hopes his team can put distractions behind them to avoid falling to 1-3 on the season at Hamilton on Friday.

Mountain Pointe High’s football program appeared to be on the right track for 2019 after an impressive blowout win over Faith Lutheran (Las Vegas, Nev.) to open the season.

Since then, however, the Pride have been derailed.

Mountain Pointe was shut out for the first time in eight years at home against Pinnacle in Week 2 and lost to Mountain View despite having an 18-point lead midway through the third quarter in the third week of the season. The Pride used their bye week following the loss to the Toros to refocus and prepare for Hamilton on Sept. 20.

But just five days before Mountain Pointe was set to kick off against the Huskies, news of a scandal involving former assistant and head girls basketball coach Justin Hager was made public. An investigation by the Tempe Union High School District revealed that since 2017, Hager had used a burner email to send protected information about the football and boys basketball program to Mountain Pointe’s opponents.

Included in the emails to various Arizona coaches were plays and overall game strategy. Wellbrock would not comment on the issue shortly after it was revealed on Monday.

“We are really going to focus on getting our kids ready for Hamilton this week,” Wellbrock said. “I will discuss the issue on Saturday morning.”

Mountain Pointe’s game plan against the Huskies will remain simple. In fact, it will revolve highly around the game plan that has been intact all season long.

Every week, the Pride aim to put the ball in the hands of some of their top playmakers on offense. So far this season, that has been senior running back Resi Shank and senior wideout Dominique Davis.

Shank has rushed for 290 yards this season and 5 touchdowns. Most of his yards have come against Faith Lutheran and Mountain View, as the senior was held to just 37 yards on the ground against Pinnacle. Davis, meanwhile, has picked up where he left off last season. So far, he’s caught 21 passes for 287 yards and a touchdown.

“They just need to continue doing what they need to do to get fundamentally right,” Wellbrock said. “A lot of it has to do with them being good leaders and making sure the ones that help them get those yards are playing a practicing at a high level as well.”

Sophomore quarterback Landen Powell has shined in moments for the Pride this season.

Wellbrock believes if they can find a way to keep Powell comfortable in the pocket, his offense will be able to find a rhythm on a nightly basis.

“We just expect him to keep getting better,” Wellbrock said. “By midseason, we aren’t going to say he’s a sophomore anymore because he’s already started five games.

“He just needs to keep getting better and as a team, I think they understand what we need to do to be successful.”

Have an interesting story? Contact Zach Alvira at zalvira@timespublications.com and follow him on Twitter @ZachAlvira.

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