SIERRA VISTA — A 3 1/2-hour drive to play a game can lead to all sorts of issues, for a football team, most notably fatigue following the long trip, uncertainty about the distant locale and fears of not taking seriously an opponent it beat handily the year before.
Mountain Pointe's only true problems Friday night, though, came after its almost effortless 58-7 win over Buena.
The post-game pizza, ordered during the fourth quarter, was late to the locker room due to the presence of a running clock, and the return drive to Ahwatukee was expected to include a significant delay due to the team buses needing to go through a Border Patrol checkpoint 20 minutes outside of Sierra Vista.
“We were really concerned about the long trip down here,” Mountain Pointe coach Norris Vaughn said after the game, a look of disbelief on his face at how easy the victory seemed. “We expected more of a game than they gave us. I think we were just too physical for them, on offense and defense.”
A week after an emotional win over rival Desert Vista, all the ingredients were in place for a letdown against a Buena team that has had one winning season in the past eight years and had lost 16 of its previous 18 games to Phoenix-area teams.
But the Pride (4-0) wasted little time showing they came to play, scoring touchdowns on their first five drives for a 35-0 lead with 3:06 left in the second quarter.
Quarterback Antonio Hinojosa threw two TD passes to Jalen Brown, including a 30-yard fade route that Brown dragged just inside the front end zone pylon, while Garette Craig scored two of his four touchdowns in the second quarter.
“I don't like taking long trips,” said Craig, who had 13 carries for 161 yards and three touchdowns and also returned the second half kickoff 88 yards for a score. “Everyone's legs get tired for sitting in one place for a long time. We were trying to hurry up and get it done quick so our scout team and other guys who don't get to play could get in.”
Mountain Pointe had subs by late in the first half, when Buena (2-2) had its only brief moment of highlights. Down 35-0, Cliff Taylor returned a kickoff 64 yards to the Pride 32, and five plays (and a face mask personal foul) later the Colts got a 2-yard TD run from Dominique Drake to pull within 28 points.
Buena then picked off Hinojosa on a long pass to Travonn White that popped off White's hands and into a Colt defender to keep Mountain Pointe from tacking on another first half score.
The second half was more of the same for the Pride, who outgained Buena 377-36 before halftime and finished with a 482-89 yard advantage. A modified running clock — the clock operator seemed to randomly stop the clock at times for no reason — and a botched drop kick point-after attempt from Ryan Sheehan kept the final score from being more lopsided.
“We dominated the line of scrimmage,” Vaughn said. “We can be pretty physical, and we were tonight. I was worried about a letdown, but I thought we really played well tonight.”
Pedersen is a Tucson-area freelance writer.