A singular focus by a coaching staff and a high school football team can be hard to come by these days.
Outside distractions, which are all too prevalent, can fracture a team in many pieces.
A year after allowing such obstacles hijack its season, Mountain Pointe showed exactly how far it has come Friday when the Pride advanced to their first state title game after a 30-0 over Brophy at McClintock on the Division I semifinals.
“This doesn’t even feel real yet,” senior running back Thomas Warren said. “I feel like I am still on that field. I guess I don’t want to forget it. We are so different than last year and that family is all we needed to get here.”
The win came in dominant fashion and was a microcosm of what 2012 has been all about for the Pride (12-1).
The defense was at its best, positing its third shutout of the year, and took advantage of a hobbled Brophy (11-3) offense. The Broncos top three players had injuries coming in, but it wouldn’t have mattered.
The Payne brothers – Landry and Wesley – were creating mayhem per usual, the pass rush, led by Charlie Trevino and Trey Lauer, was quick into the backfield and the defensive backs were more difficult to escape than Alcatraz.
Meanwhile, the offense, led by the will of the line, manhandled the opposition in rushing for 303 yards as Garette Craig (170 yards) and Warren took advantage of the attention being paid to receiver Jalen Brown.
It didn’t come as easy, at least early on, as the score indicates as Mountain Pointe led only 7-0 going into halftime when the team could have been done in by one of those nasty outside distractions.
Someone broke into the locker room and took a lot of the players’ personal belonging, mostly cell phones and/or head phones, while they Pride were playing the most important game of their lives.
It was handled and dispatched nearly as easily as the Broncos were in the second half when Mountain Pointe scored two quick touchdowns for a 21-0 lead.
“We told them to use the anger they had (after finding out they were robbed) for a purpose on the field,” Landry Payne said. “Get fired up and take it out on someone.”
It led to a virtuoso performance on a football field, but it is hardly the finale.
The encore, in their mind, comes Saturday when top-seeded Mountain Pointe takes on Hamilton at noon at University of Phoenix Stadium for the state championship.
It is the final chance for Mountain Pointe’s singular focus to bring together a program, and a community, that has been waiting for this since the doors opened in 1991.
“We aren’t done yet,” junior lineman Natrell Curtis said. “We are not going to dwell on the win. We got Hamilton and we are focused on the big game.”
Contact writer: (480) 898-7915 or Jskoda@ahwatukee.com. Follow him on Twitter @JSKodaAFN.