The ball will be in the air a lot.
It is the one conclusion that can definitely be made before No. 1 Mountain Pointe hosts No. 9 Desert Mountain in the second round of the Division I playoffs on Friday at Karl Kiefer Stadium.
The Pride (10-1) has broken records with its prolific passing attack this season, but most of the records would be wiped out by what Desert Mountain (9-2) has been able to accomplish with its deadly combination of junior quarterback Kyle Allen and junior wide receiver Mark Andrews.
“It’s going to be a challenge and a tough game,” Mountain Pointe coach Norris Vaughan said. “They have tremendous size on offense and have a great quarterback and a great wide receiver. No one has really stopped them.”
The offensive line has some size, which creates running lanes for Daniel Fedorka (8.7 yards a carry), but more importantly provides plenty of time for Allen and Andrews to do their thing.
“It’s not going to be a 7-3 type game,” Desert Mountain coach Tony Tabor said, who endured an 0-10 season in 2010 after making 5A Division II semifinals in 2009. “We have to pick and choose when we run. We are going to run straight at them. That’s just not smart football.”
The 6-foot, 200-pound Allen, who has offers from the state schools along with programs like Boise State, Oklahoma State and UCLA, and has thrown for 2,892 yards with 35 touchdowns and seven interceptions while completing 73 percent of his attempts (189 of 259).
Doing most of the damage on the other end, although senior Cody Erickson (35 catches, 6 TDs) is tough as well, is the very large Andrews.
The 6-6, 220-pound Andrews would be a tough matchup — size wise — with NFL defensive backs. He is just a big body who creates mismatches simply because high school kids have trouble defending someone so big.
It has led to 78 catches for 1,421 yards and 21 touchdowns with the latter two stats ranking among the top 15 in the nation, according to MaxPreps.com.
He has offers from most of the schools on the West Coast along with the likes of Ohio State and Michigan.
The Pride counter with some athletic defensive backs with safety Jalen Brown, who is the biggest at 6-foot-2 and 175 pounds, but everyone else is more along the lines of cornerback Ciyre Simmons at 5-foot-11 and 155 pounds.
“You just have to stick your nose in there and not worry about that,” said Simmons, who had an 80-yard interception return for a score last week. “We’ve had to do it against (6-4 teammate) Thair (Blakes before he got hurt) in practice. You just have to sacrifice and do what you have to to get the job done.”
Playing against someone that big and athletic can be hard to simulate so the Pride defense will have to adjust once the players are in live action.
“You don’t really know how fast or big someone is until you go against them,” Simmons said. “The coaches will put us in the right position to get it done.”
The Pride plays a lot of zone so the defenders can bracket Andrews and try to contain him, but so have others to no avail. With Mountain Pointe’s offense, the Pride can overcome a few big scoring plays by Allen but if he has a career night — he’s had four games with at least three touchdowns and three with at least 11 catches — then a problem might arise.
The thing going Mountain Pointe’s way is its offense is even more dynamic with big-time rushing threats in Garette Craig and Thomas Warren to go along with its passing tandem of Antonio Hinojosa and Brown.
“They have big-play potential,” Tabor said. “Their wide receiver and running back are true blue athletes and playmakers. We have to try to slow No. 2 (Brown), but no one really has all year.”
The Desert Mountain defense has given up a lot of points (22.5 a game) against teams that had fewer matchup problems the Pride’s offense can cause.
If the contest becomes a shootout despite the fact that the Pride defense allows 15.7 points, 91.2 yards passing and a 41.9 percent completion percentage, Mountain Pointe is more than equipped to put points on the board in a hurry.
“I don’t know how you stop someone that big,” Vaughan said. “He is not like anyone I have ever seen. He looks like an NFL guy and probably will be someday. He is incredible. He is not just big and strong. He can do everything.
“But you never know offensively. A few penalties and turnovers and then you are in trouble. We will line up and see what happens.”
• Contact writer: (480) 898-7915 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @JSkodaAFN.