When Norris Vaughan-coached teams started bludgeoning opponents in Arizona with high knees and power running games, a perception came with it.

Vaughan brought his old-school, wing-T offense to the Valley of the Sun after perfecting it for 20 years in Georgia.

"Everyone thinks he bases everything out of the wing-T, but it just isn't true," Mountain Pointe offensive coordinator Eric Lauer said. "Can we go to it if we want to or need to? Of course, but we are not strictly a wing-T offense."

The Pride showed that last season when it set several passing records for the program as quarterback Kyle Faunce and wide receiver Garrett Holle became vital to the offense.

But before last season, it is easy to see why Vaughan's offense was considered to be dominant run teams. He doesn't deny that, but at the same time the tag of wing-T wasn't correct in his mind.

"We were more physical than just about anybody we played," he said. "That's why we had success running the ball. We used several different packages, but what it comes down to is being more physical."

In his first five seasons in Arizona, his teams averaged 3,615 yards on the ground and 48 rushing touchdowns for the season. That's four years at Wickenburg and his first at Mountain Pointe in 2009.

It also added up to four years of making it at least as far as the state semifinals.

This year the Pride's offensive line is expected to be one of the best, and physical, in Division I so it seems to make sense to pencil in about 3,000 yards and 40 TDs.

Only Mountain Pointe plans on showcasing two quarterbacks - Caleb Buck and Dillan Johnson - and have a host of talented receivers, including Jalen Brown.

In other words, the Pride will not have 11 guys close to the ball and smashing it down the defense's throat.

Mountain Pointe will once again show some diversity by game-planning differently each week and adjusting to the type of defense the Pride faces each week.

They have shown the willingness to change the style to fit the personnel instead of making the players fit the system.

"As a coaching staff you have to be able to do that," Lauer said. "You game plan based on your opponent's weakness as much as you do based on your strengths. There are some games where you feel you can take advantage of certain match ups one week compared to others."

Buck was thrust into a major role a year earlier than expected when Faunce moved to Indiana. He is a different player after being given the shot to take control of the huddle in spring ball.

"My confidence is up and the team's confidence in me is there," said Buck, who missed some time in camp with a thumb injury. "I had to adjust to the speed of the game, but it has been a productive summer."

The season will most likely start with Buck and Johnson getting time at quarterback, but no matter who is in there the offense will have an open feel to it.

"This year is more like a pro-balanced offense," Buck said. "We are going to run it, but we are spreading it out a little bit, too. I don't think you can label us anything because we have so many things we can do."

It is clear that Vaughan likes to run the ball, but he isn't all Woody Hayes about it.

He hasn't won more than 200 games without changing things up, but the one constant has always been the toughness required to react positively when tested.

"We want to be physically and mentally tough," Vaughan said. "That is our plan every camp. That's what we need to establish - being physical. I think that's what our trademark is."

• Contact writer: (480) 898-7915 or jskoda@ahwatukee.com

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