Last football season, Mountain Pointe tight end Ben DeMarr could have had his own football highlight film just from catching passes.
The 6-foot-4, 215-pound DeMarr made use of his good hands, vertical leap from basketball and courage as a receiver to keep Pride offensive drives alive by catching 29 passes for 330 yards; but the Pride finished the season with a 2-8 overall record.
This season, under new coach Norris Vaughan, the Pride have been throwing the ball less, but are 11-0 going into the Friday’s state quarterfinal game, a rematch with Chandler Basha at Karl Kiefer Stadium.
DeMarr has made 11 catches for 153 yards this season.
“I’d rather have us winning and helping out as far as blocking than catch a bunch of passes and having us get our butts kicked,” DeMarr said. “It doesn’t bother me. I know I can do it because I did it last year.”
Vaughan’s offensive schemes have DeMarr doing more blocking from his tight end spot this season than being a primary pass receiver.
“DeMarr is an awesome blocker for a tight end,” Vaughan said, “and he catches the ball as well as anybody. He’s just not getting as many opportunities this year, but we hope to do more of that.”
DeMarr, who was also the team’s starting punter last season, has relinquished those duties to Jon Mora and can concentrate on his primary assignments.
Some of Vaughan’s blocking schemes take a little more finesse and mobility than going long or out-jumping a defender for the ball.
“I think blocking is harder because it’s always a battle going up against someone,” DeMarr said. “It’s not just going one-on-one with another person.”
Mountain Pointe’s bread and butter this season has been the running game of De’Andre Currie and Davon Jones. They pair has run for a combined 3,121 yards and 48 touchdowns.
DeMarr is leading some of that blocking.
“I’d much rather have it this way,” he said. “I’m usually picking up the outside linebacker or the safety, but I’ll still go out for a pass, too.”
DeMarr has drawn a lot of attention from college recruiters, including the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs and the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.
Arizona State University is also interested. The Sun Devils have historically landed tight ends out of Desert Vista, with brothers Brent and Zach Miller and recent product Steven Figueroa staying close to home to play with the Sun Devils.
“Most schools I’ve talked to want a tight end that can split out wide and create some mismatches,” DeMarr said, “but I haven’t made a decision yet.”
And with a state championship still in the cards, DeMarr, this season at least, is content on being an ensemble cast member in those Pride highlight tapes.