Pride looks to build off last season’s success - Ahwatukee Foothills News: Sports

Pride looks to build off last season’s success

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Posted: Friday, August 27, 2010 2:00 pm | Updated: 3:15 pm, Tue Sep 27, 2011.

If the Mountain Pointe football program was a Twitter account last year's breakout season was the equivalent of a professional athlete guaranteeing a victory or trash talking an opponent.

The number of followers went crazy over night.

Mountain Pointe has more than 250 football players in the program this year. The Pride had to create a second freshmen team to account for the 100 or so new faces in the program.

The boon can be traced back to the new feeling surrounding the program after head coach Norris Vaughan revamped the approach, attitude and expectations in his first season that ended with a state semifinal appearance and a 12-1 record.

"The difference between last year at this time and this year is so different," senior defensive tackle senior Chad Papineau said. "Last year we were buying into what coach was saying but we didn't know what it meant on the field. Now we know exactly what it takes to be successful.

"We know that we can be successful instead of hoping that we will be."

The chance to build off last year's momentum begins Friday night at home against Mesa Dobson at 7 p.m.

While the attitude has changed inside the Mountain Pointe program, the perception of the Pride state-wide might not be all that different than at the start of last season.

Mountain Pointe lost a lot of its stars, including 3,508 yards rushing and 54 total touchdowns, and it has some wondering if the Pride was a one-year wonder.

"Let them think that," senior linebacker Izzy Marshall said. "We know what kind of talent we have back. They may not know it, but they will soon enough."

The defense returns four starters, although safety Kameron Robinson, who started as a junior last season, moved to Texas, with plenty of game experience for the rest of the group. Some of the players might not have started but logged plenty of crucial minutes as backups last season.

"We know what we have defensively at most positions," defensive coordinator Jeff Decker said. "Our defensive front is going to be physical and strong. We have some questions at defensive back, but we feel like we can be a pretty solid unit."

Marshall, who has been nursing a stress fracture in his right foot, is ready to head up what he believes can be one of the state's top defenses.

"We make each other better because we don't want to let our teammates or coaches down," said Marshall, who is rated the No. 1 senior linebacker in the state by scout.com. "The offense won a lot of games for us last year because we were so explosive, but now it is the defense's turn to get it done. The offense is going to be good, but we can be a great defense."

The offense will have a lot of new faces.

Vaughan said the offensive line can be stronger and more physical than last year's unit. The running backs are going to be small, but quick. The quarterback spot is taken over by junior newcomer Kyle Faunce, who is enrolled at his fourth Arizona school since moving here from Indiana after his freshman year.

Faunce's arm will fit in well with the dual threat of senior wide receiver Garrett Holle, who is 6-foot-4 and 190 pounds, and freshman standout Jalen Brown, at 6-2 and 160 pounds.

It is easy to envision the offense relying more on the pass in 2010 than the Pride did last season when they averaged just eight pass attempts a game.

The intrigue will begin to unfold in the weeks to come as Mountain Pointe attempts to defend its East Valley Region title with Mesa Desert Ridge and Tempe Marco de Niza the likely contenders.

"Coach Vaughan showed us the way," Marshall said. "Now we know how to get there and as seniors it is our job to make sure we get back there."

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

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