Standing their ground: Pride’s defensive front holds up to challenge - Ahwatukee Foothills News: Sports

Standing their ground: Pride’s defensive front holds up to challenge

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Posted: Friday, September 6, 2013 6:45 am | Updated: 1:42 pm, Thu Nov 21, 2013.

The directive was simple.

Don’t give ground to possibly the largest, and nearly just as talented, high school offensive lines in the nation.

The execution? Not as easy and yet the Mountain Pointe defense, the front seven to be more specific, pulled it off.

While the big plays by Paul Lucas and the toughness of Wesley Payne on the offensive side garnered most of the attention after the Pride’s season-opening win over Bishop Gorman, those two wouldn’t have had as many opportunities if the Mountain Pointe defense didn’t neutralize the line of scrimmage.

“They played great and won the point of attack,” Pride coach Norris Vaughan said. “My biggest worry was their size. I knew we had the athletes and speed to stay with them, but they had a huge size advantage.”

Behind the coaches’ scheme and the players’ relentlessness the Gaels were unable to get the running game going. Gorman finished with 151 yards on 32 attempts, but most of those yards — 98 — came from quarterback Randall Cunningham Jr., who did most of his damage on scrambles.

In other words, the big old massive line wasn’t creating massive holes and pushing the Pride back as linemen like Charlie Trevino, Mitchell Fraboni and Natrell Curtis won the inertia battle more often than not. Backups Devonte Roach, Clayton Dry, David Perrott and others held their own as well.

“The big concern going into the game was they were going to line up and run right at us,” said the 6-foot-2, 225-pound Trevino. “They never got it going. The longer it went the more frustrated they got.”

The run defense was the one letdown in 2012 in the Pride’s only two defeats on the way to a state runner-up finish. Brophy ran wild during the regular season with several runs up the middle, while Hamilton did a similar number in the state title game.

“We had a big problem with it last year,” Trevino said. “Brophy ran it down our throat. We followed the scheme and the way we played, and stayed disciplined a lot better.”

The linebackers like Austin Cronin, Isaiah Jones, Trey Lauer and Payne did their parts as well, but it was the culmination of the coaches coming up with the right plays and schemes and players following orders.

“The coaches prepared us and set everything perfectly,” said the 6-2, 200-pound Fraboni. “They gave us a job to do and it was up to us to go out and perform.”

They’ll get that chance again Friday when the Pride (2-0) travel to Cesar Chavez (0-1).

“We’re older and stronger than last year,” Trevino said. “We got a lot of playing time last year and we are better now. I think if we listen to our coaches, do the things we are supposed to do, and play hard we can shutout just about anyone. We showed that against Brophy (in the state semifinals) and again with the way we played against Gorman.

“We are not going to play against anyone bigger and that showed us we can take it to anyone.”

• Contact writer: (480) 898-7915 or jskoda@ahwatukee.com. Follow him on Twitter @JSkodaAFN.

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Jason P. Skoda
  • Jason P. Skoda
  • Sports writer
  • Resident sports writer at the Ahwatukee Foothills News

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