For one of the few times, if not the first, in Norris Vaughan’s long coaching career, the disciplinarian lost control of one faction of his team a year ago.
It slowly tore away at the fabric of Vaughan’s belief system and consequently the Pride went 0-5 against quality opponents in 2011.
The 2012 Mountain Pointe team was supposed to be different but come late Friday night Vaughan had no control whatsoever.
Players were doing whatever they wanted, their jerseys weren’t tucked in and Vaughan was kind of spinning in circles. All he wanted to do was get them in a huddle and just about no one was listening.
He finally gave in and joined the fun.
Vaughan turned to defensive coordinator Jeff Decker, locked arms in a forearm to foreman handshake and did a few shoulder blocks as the team celebrated one of the biggest wins in school history.
“It means everything to me,” Vaughan said after the Pride’s 17-14 win over Hamilton. “We had four or five kids kicked off our team last year. I don’t advertise that, but it is the truth.
“Our biggest test was going to be how are our team was going act when things went bad.”
After knocking off the state’s elite program, one the Pride never beat in four previous attempts, the Pride showed just how far the program has come in 12 months.
There was a dissension, off the field issues, parents creating havoc and play on the field that just wasn’t good enough beat Hamilton, Desert Vista and Brophy.
At some point, someone – whether it was a team leader like Kenny Lacy, Jalen Brown or Vaughan himself – had a “come to Jesus moment” because the vibe from the very start with this team has been very different.
All of the non-sense appears to be gone.
In its place is a newfound trust that allowed Mountain Pointe to come through in crunch time as the Pride scored 10 points in the final three minutes, including a Travonn White’s 50-yard touchdown with 2:57 remaining to tie it at 14.
“This is so big,” White said. “We’ve grown so much as a team. Just that fact that could prevail in this situation. Things didn’t go right all game, but we kept our composure.”
It’s hard to put the win in perspective after all it is just Week 1. The overtime win over Basha in the 2009 state quarterfinals is probably the biggest in school history and the win over Marcos de Niza to end the regular season undefeated in the same year might be the most celebrated regular season win.
This one is right there with those.
The student body went nuts, former players like Izzy Marshall and others were celebrating like they made the final tackle themselves when Hamilton's last chance came on the game’s final play and young guys saw something that might inspire them to want to pull a Pride jersey in the years to come.
Trey Lauer, a junior getting his first taste of varsity as the starting outside linebacker, knows something about that. His father, Eric, is the Pride offensive coordinator so Trey has been around the program for years.
“It means a lot to see it finally happen,” he said. “Since I was a little kid I wanted to play here. I’ve seen some Mountain Pointe teams come close to beating Hamilton, but this is a different team. We fought through everything.
“It was special to see the fans come over the fence and share the win with us.”
The win doesn’t guarantee anything other than the Pride is 1-0 heading into the Mesa game this week. A loss to Hamilton, however, probably would have kept things status quo, but instead confidence is extremely high. The players now know what can be accomplished when they are ready to commit fully to the team.
And yet they know they can’t get ahead of themselves either.
“It’s just one step in our long journey,” said Brown, who had a fumble recovery, an interception and five catches for 52 yards. “It can recharge the program and we can take this team further than any team in Mountain Pointe history.”
Contact writer: (480) 898-7915 or JSkoda@ahwatukee.com. Follow him on Twitter @JSkodaAFN.