Can 24 minutes of bad football erase what the Mountain Pointe built in the first half of the season?
Of course not.
Only a foolish, so-called “journalist” would ask such a question. So it was.
“No,” was the reply from Pride coach Norris Vaughan, who had an incredulous look on his face. “It was just one game.”
Really, it was just one half that knocked Mountain Pointe from the top of the Division I rankings after the hard-to-fathom 54-28 loss to then-No. 5 Brophy.
The Pride led 21-10 at the half and seemed to have the game in hand with nearly 300 yards of offense in the first half alone, but they were hit by a haboob and torrential downpour at the same time. Brophy scored three touchdowns off three turnovers in barely three minutes of game time.
Mountain Pointe is about to find out how close it really is as the Pride faces adversity for the first time this season.
They beat Hamilton, Desert Vista and Chandler by a total of six points, so it wasn’t like Mountain Pointe was dominant. But they came back to school each Monday stronger and more cohesive because the emotional wins and Vaughan’s postgame speeches became more legendary by the week.
Now, Mountain Pointe has to do real work.
“It never feels good,” Pride defensive coordinator Jeff Decker said. “Everyone understands they need to work harder, concentrate better in practice and know assignments a little better. There are two ways to go — one is forward and get better or let it last and let it rotten.”
Decker’s defense was being hailed as one of the state’s best with good reason before the Brophy loss. The Pride limited some pretty prolific offenses until Friday. They owned the second half with a total of 13 points allowed through five games.
It all came crashing down against the Broncos, who were the preseason favorite before losing to Red Mountain. Yes, the Pride defensive unit was up against some short fields because of the four second-half turnovers, but it still gave up more than 300 yards rushing, including 265 to Marche Dennard.
“It’s football,” Decker said. “The best teams have bad halves where everything just snowballs. We weren’t used to that. It is going to be a learning process. We ended with a loss and sometimes it can be the best thing for a team.”
The other important thing will be getting junior quarterback Antonio Hinojosa going again. He is a young player and had three interceptions. Two were terrific athletic plays by the defenders and the third was just a bad read.
“We missed opportunities and it should have never come to all that,” Vaughan said. “We made a lot of mistakes on offense that we really hadn’t made all year. The score wasn’t indicative of the game. We could have just run the ball and kept it close but we were trying to win the game.”
Vaughan, who didn’t let his players talk after the game, is a master motivator. He can be critical and boisterous in difficult moments, but he has a way of bringing it all together in the end.
The Pride’s schedule, it appears, goes from being a finger-in-an-electrical-outlet intense to a hand buzzer of lame joke fame.
It will be the perfect way, starting with Friday’s game at Corona del Sol, to reestablish a semblance of dominance and regain some swagger to rid themselves of the embarrassment.
Otherwise, those 24 ugly minutes just might define the season.
“This can be a good thing,” Vaughan said. “This will test our character and see if we can come back from this.”
Contact writer: (480) 898-7915 or JSkoda@ahwatukee.com. Follow him on Twitter @JSkodaAFN.