It may take a few days for the reality to set in, but this is senior night for the Mountain Pointe football team.
If those Pride seniors want to play another game in Karl Kiefer Stadium this season they’ll have to take care of business tonight against Chandler Perry in the final regular season East Valley Region home game.
The Pumas come in with a 5-3 overall record and are 2-1 in the conference.
Mountain Pointe is sitting second in the Arizona Interscholastic Association power rating system with the Perry game and a season finale against undefeated Tempe Marcos de Niza on the schedule.
A victory wouldn’t guarantee the Pride of a home field advantage if they get to the state 5A-I playoffs, but with an 8-0 record and Marcos de Niza a week away, it would help.
The Pride will be facing a running quarterback who can throw the ball for the third time this season.
So far they have handled Mike Benjamin and Skyline’s Michael Bailey.
Pumas quarterback Chase Richardson (6-foot-1, 200 pounds) has passed for 890 yards and has run for 378 yards and 10 touchdowns this season.
“He’s a big boy,” Mountain Pointe coach Norris Vaughan said. “He can run and throw and they have a great tailback.
Perry running back Tauren Darnell has carried the ball for 356 yards and five touchdowns.
The Pumas also have some bulk in the line in 300-pound Mo Latu.
“They’re good,” Vaughan added. “Maybe not as good as Marcos or Basha, but they’re good and we’ve already seen that anybody can beat you in this league.”
The Pumas have scored 183 points and given up just as many this season.
Mountain Pointe’s bread and butter this season have been 1,000-yard running backs De’Andre Currie and Davon Jones. Between them the senior running backs have gained 2,307 yards on the ground and scored 36 touchdowns.
A factor to the Pride game this week again could also be the kicking game.
Vaughan said he felt it was one of the keys in the Pride’s 28-14 region victory over Mesa Westwood last week.
“We were obviously a better team but the biggest difference was our kicking game, which is pretty good,” Vaughan said.
Pride kicker Jon Mora put all three of his kickoffs into the end zone and buried the Warriors with a 51-yard punt that wasn’t returned late in the game.
With Currie and Jones in the backfield Mountain Pointe has thrived with the run this season.
But Vaughan said the Pride were working more on the passing game in practice this week.
Quarterback Austin Blom has completed 40 of 73 passes for 532 yards and five touchdowns this season. But he was intercepted for the first time this season and fumbled on a pass out of the end zone against Westwood.
“We’ve been running the ball well this season and sometimes we’ve been so far ahead toward the end of the game we didn’t see a need to throw the ball,” Vaughan explained.
“But,” he added, “that opens things up and if we get to the playoffs we’re going to need a passing game to beat some of those big teams.”