The contradiction was immense.
As the Mountain Pointe football team celebrated wildly with its student body after running away with the second half of the Ahwatukee Bowl, Norris Vaughan stood next them damning the very thing the Pride players were caught up in.
“I hate emotion,” the Mountain Pointe coach said. “It can really change a game.”
Vaughan was riled up because the emotion of one of the best football rivalries in Arizona took the Pride out of their usual precision-like performance they showed in the first six victories.
There was no denying Mountain Pointe was off to start the game. Five first-quarter penalties wiped out plays that earned first downs — and a whole bunch of yards.
Meanwhile, the Desert Vista defensive front did a job disrupting the plays that didn’t end with the head referee gesturing to the overflowing crowd at Thunder Stadium.
“That’s the perfect example right there,” Vaughan said. “We let it get the best of us and we can’t have that.”
The Pride (7-0) went on to an easy 49-6 win over Desert Vista (3-3) so it isn’t easy to remember the Pride led just 7-6 with 10 seconds left in the first half when Mountain Pointe’s finished off an impressive, and important, 80-yard drive when Timmy Hernandez dove and hit the pylon just before halftime for a 14-6 lead.
The 35-second half points — 42 straight overall — by the Pride drained the emotion from the Thunder sideline, but not before Desert Vista showed a backbone.
The Thunder were expected to be overwhelmed heading into the contest, before it came to light that Desert Vista lost junior quarterback Cade van Raaphorst to a knee injury in Monday’s practice. Or Will Barfield, who is the emotional leader as he plays in honor for this fallen father, is out until Week 10 after thumb surgery.
Yet, Desert Vista, which still leads the series 10-7, mixed it up with the nationally-ranked Pride despite using two quarterbacks with very little varsity experience.
This game stirs the stomach, gives underdogs 5-hour Energy-like infused confidence before it crashes down from sugar high and it’s where players walk off their field feeling a void that won’t be forgotten.
“It hurts my heart knowing I never beat them (at any level) in my career,” Thunder senior Anthony Reaves said before turning and heading toward his locker room. “It hurts so much.”
I get Vaughan’s sentiment. It’s about the one thing he can’t control. These are 16- to 18-year-old kids. The schools might be separated by 4.2 miles, but it’s a wide chasm compared to the 24-hour instant access that comes in 140 character intervals.
You never know how they are going to react, but it was clear Mountain Pointe had something going in the first quarter.
Either way, Mountain Pointe stumbled early against a team that was beset with injuries, and the Thunder — at least defensively — fed off it and gave Mountain Pointe something to think about after 24 minutes of football.
“We were right there with them in a game no one gave us much of a chance,” Thunder coach Dan Hinds said. “We fed off this atmosphere and held our own until we turned it over too much (four consecutive possessions).
“It was another chapter to this great game.”
Desert Vista had to shuffle things at quarterback, with Brendon Smith and Alex Farina platooning, a week after its best offensive showing.
They stumbled and bumbled for sure against one of the state’s top defenses, but you never saw any give in their will or pride.
“These guys did a heck of a job keeping things in check,” Hinds said. “We have some things to take care of, but there’s no doubt in my mind they’ll put in the work.”
Contact writer: (480) 898-7915 or Jskoda@ahwatukee.com. Follow him on Twitter @JSkodaAFN