MP Varsity Football

Mountain Pointe junior Wesley Payne will be one of the main running backs fpr the Prde this season.

[David Jolkovski/AFN]

Norris Vaughan sat at his desk in the Mountain Pointe coach’s office looking over pages and pages of diagramed offensive plays.

Some looked newly scrawled, others were tattered, and some probably have been at the bottom of the pile for years.

Vaughan has maintained he hasn’t been able to fully implement his entire offensive package since taking over the program in 2009 because the personnel hasn’t lined up with his schemes.

“We have a lot more we can do,” he said. “You have to do what fits your players. I’d like to open it up, but you can’t recruit the players you need. You only have the players who walk through the door.”

There have been successful parts — the 4,000-yard running game in 2009, the record-setting passing game in 2010 and the dual threat QB look with Dillan Johnson last season — but Vaughan has sections of his playbook that have been biding their time.

While the Pride still doesn’t have the right mix of skills players to unveil everything Vaughan has scribbled on the playsheets, it appears Mountain Pointe does have a plethora of skills players — especially at tailback and fullback — heading into the season opener Friday when it hosts Hamilton.

The talent level at the skill positions have the Pride thinking big in 2012.

“It’s going to be a really amazing year for us on offense,” senior Thomas Warren said. “We can wait.”

It starts with the backfield where depth has Warren, who has 999 career yards and an offer from New Mexico State, backing up at tailback and fullback.

“It’s important to be able to bring in more than one guy,” Warren said. “We can rotate guys when there are injuries or someone gets tired. It’s a long season and we will all get our chances.”

Senior Garret Craig is the tailback, while junior Wesley Payne is the fullback. Both players ran for 218 yards in limited action a year ago.

It’s the Pride’s version of lightning and thunder as Craig has quick-striking ability and Payne brings the power.

“Garret brings some explosiveness to the position,” Vaughan said. “He is our fastest guy, he runs a 4.4 (40-yard dash) and can create some big plays.”

In addition to Warren, senior Landry Payne and junior Trey Lauer could receive a substantial amount of carries.

“We have more running backs,” Vaughan said. “We will be playing a lot of guys. We had some depth before but these guys are just better.”

The wide receiver position has an all-state candidate in junior Jalen Brown, who already has more than 15 college offers, and Jimmy Holtrop and tight end Thair Blakes, who is a little banged up and might not play Hamilton, could be the key to it all.

Blakes has the big body at 6-foot-5 and 215 pounds, but he hasn’t been able to put it all together on the field. If he does, Blakes, who had a good 7-on-7 showing, could do some real damage in the seam.

Of course it is doesn’t matter if the quarterback can’t get the ball to anyone.

Junior Antonio Hinojosa, who started for Marcos de Niza at the junior varsity level last year, has done well in spring practice, 7-on-7s and the scrimmage against Centennial, but that’s different than Friday nights.

“He hasn’t had (a true test) so far,” Vaughan said. “He has performed well in the scrimmage and in practice and we think he has some good talent. He is vertically challenged but we are confident he can do it.”

The line, led by senior Kenny Lacy and junior Natrell Curtis, and the rest of the offense believes Hinojosa will be fine.

“I have confidence in him and he proved to me that he is the man,” Wesley Payne said.

That’s the thing about this year’s Mountain Pointe offense. No one has to be the one and only man. There is enough talent that could put the Pride among the most explosive teams in Division I.

“We are definitely expanding the playbook,” Vaughan said. “Are we using the offense I’d like to if we had everybody I wanted? No. It is in the direction of what our players can do.

“And we think we can do some things that maybe we couldn’t before now.”

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

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