Norris Vaughan was sitting back in the Mountain Pointe locker room with his feet up on his desk.
His arms were folded, he even let out a good laugh and was pretty laid back.
Until he was asked about this week’s game against Chandler and then he was quickly at the dry erase board diagramming plays and dissecting the Wolves offense.
The relaxed Norris quickly became coach Vaughan with a purpose.
That’s because the Pride hasn’t had a game like this in awhile. The coaches and players haven’t prepared any less the last three weeks, but by the time the first drive was over the outcomes were all but decided.
It won’t be the case when the Pride (4-0) travels to Austin Field to take on the Wolves (2-1) in Division I’s most anticipated game of the week.
“We think we have played good all year, but we’ve only played one good team and we played good against them,” Vaughan said between diagramming plays. “This is a different challenge.”
The Wolves just might be a different team than years past when the athletes on the roster led to one of the best offenses, but it didn’t translate to a quality defense.
Chandler has played 10 quality quarters of defense before nationally-ranked St. John Bosco (Calif.) scored 35 points in the second half on Saturday in a 52-31 Chandler loss at Mission Viejo High.
“There were 211 plays in that game,” Chandler coach Shaun Aguano said. “They went just as fast as we did. We had 90-some plays. They had close to 100-some plays. It took a toll on both sides. They were tired too at halftime. Their weight on the (OL) offensive line started to take a toll a little bit. We’re making a few adjustments based on that but nobody is going to go as fast as they did.”
The Wolves have skill players that compare to the group Mountain Pointe, which won last year’s meeting 28-27, puts on the field. The offenses have too much talent to be contained for four quarters. It is going to up to the defenses to win the game.
“I think our defense is going to do a good job,” Aguano said. “We did well against the Dedrick Young kid against Centennial. But those two running backs (Wesley Payne and Paul Lucas) are certainly a concern. Then they have Jalen Brown and the QB (Antonio Hinojosa) is back. And the other wide receiver, (Timmy) Hernandez. They’ve got weapons.”
Chandler counters with quarterback Bryce Perkins, running back Chase Lucas (no relation to MP’s Paul), receivers Dionte Sykes, Elijah Sykes and Daniel Mahan.
The Pride defense hasn’t had this type of challenge since traveling to Las Vegas and shut down Bishop Gorman and its athletic running quarterback Randall Cunningham Jr. Perkins (600 yards passing, 290 rushing, 11 total TDs) is a dual threat with long runs and short pass routes that turn into even longer runs.
“After a couple days of film we will be ready,” said the Pride’s Brown, who is one interception away from tying the school record in his career (14, Mike Collins). “We are expecting to handle (Chandler’s offense) a little better this year because we are so stacked defensively and we have so many options on offense so I don’t think they will stop us to well.
“Going into Bishop I was a little unsure if everyone was ready for it. Everyone stepped up and now our team will go into every game this season with confidence.”
The thing of it is, regardless of outcome, the game only marks the half-way point for the Pride and the Wolves still have six games remaining. Much will be made of the result, but the reality is this is just the start of something.
“This truly right now is going to be a good test for us knowing where we stand, if we’re a title contender or on the second tier,” Aguano said. “I feel pretty confident, but after this game and the Hamilton game (Oct. 4) I’ll let you know for sure.”
Vaughan is confident as well, but he isn’t fretting the possibility of a loss in September.
“It’s not even mid-season,” Vaughan said. “We are only concerned about the end of the season. We are going to do our thing and try to get better in all phases. Hopefully, at the end, it is good enough.”
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