When Norris Vaughan is excited he can’t contain himself, words flow from his mouth that maybe shouldn’t, and his smile reaches a new level.
His Mountain Pointe football players took on his personality Friday night because there was no way Brophy was going to contain them, their confidence was flowing and the Pride certainly reached a new level.
Top-seeded Mountain Pointe pounded the fourth-seeded Broncos, 30-0, in the Division I state semifinals at McClintock High School to advance to its first state championship game in school history.
The Pride (12-1) will face Hamilton (11-2) at noon on Nov. 24 at University of Phoenix Stadium.
“We had some challenges, but we took them on head on,” Vaughan said. “It made us stronger and they really responded this game. This program has never been in this position and the players deserve this opportunity for all of the work they’ve put in this year.”
In the early portions of the fourth quarter, with the Pride up 27-0, Mountain Pointe started to let its guard down and celebrate. Coaches hugged and shook their heads in disbelief at the ease of the victory and players continued their season-long talk of being the "MoneyTeam" and heading toward Exit 7 (where Cardinals’ stadium is located off the Loop 101) for Week 14.
There was still some work to be done, but it was clear there would be no chance of a unbelievable comeback by the Broncos (11-3) as they had in the first meeting this season.
In the first meeting, the Pride dominated the first half, led 21-10, but three turnovers in four plays led directly to 21 Brophy points on the way to a 54-28 loss.
“We were never going to let that happen again,” junior linebacker Landry Payne said. “We were embarrassed and it stuck with us.”
This third quarter had a completely different outcome as the Pride went 80 yards on the opening drive of the second half to go up 14-0 on Emanuel Butler’s acrobatic catch, in which he jumped and reached back over a defensive back Zack Kotoske, for an 11-yard score on third-and-goal.
Brophy’s ensuing possession was one play because hobbled running back Marche Dennard (ankle), who had 60 yards on 10 carries after 268 yards in the first meeting this year, was hit by Landry Payne and the loose ball was recovered by Wesley Payne on the Broncos’ 24-yard line.
Pride senior Thomas Warren (16 carries for 68 yards) finished off the drive with a 3-yard plunge for a 21-0 lead with 3:24 left in the third quarter.
As good as the Pride’s offense was – they ran for 303 yards, including 170 yards by Garette Craig and two rushing scores by quarterback Antonio Hinojosa – it was the Pride’s defense which tied the school record with its third shutout and set the tone while the Pride struggled early with field position.
There is something about the Pride’s style of defense – a lot of man-to-man in previous meetings with a little more zone worked in this time – that Broncos quarterback Tyler Bruggman doesn’t like. The Washington State-commit came into the game with a 41 percent completion percentage (but a 3-0 record) against Mountain Pointe and it only got worse as he went 6 for 23 for 34 yards and an interception.
“We have a great (defensive backfield) and we ask them to do a lot, but they were able to come through,” Pride defensive coordinator Jeff Decker said. “We mixed it up a lot and gave them a different look.”
This season has been one big win after another after knocking off four top five teams (at the time) while playing one of the toughest schedules in the state.
Not many saw it coming but what outsiders didn’t understand was how the negativity that held them back was gone by spring ball, how their confidence grew in the 7-on-7 portion of the summer including a championship in Northern Arizona or the cohesiveness that was forged during a last-second trip to the White Mountains in August.
“This is an unbelievable feeling,” senior defensive back Travonn White said. “We knew way back when that this was possible, but we haven’t accomplished everything we want yet.”
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B - 0 0 0 0 -- 0
MP 0 7 20 0 -- 30
First downs: B 8; MP 21
Rushes-Yards: B 20-100; MP 56-303
Passing yards: B 34; MP 48
Comp-Att-Int: B 6-23-1; MP 5-8-0
Fumbles-Lost: B 2-1; MP 0-0
Penalty-Yards: B 4-35; MP 5-50
MP - Hinojosa 13 run, Sheehan kick
MP - Butler 8 pass from Hinojoa, Sheehan kick
MP - Warren 3 run, Sheehan kick
MP - Hinojosa 11 run, kick failed
MP – Ambercrombie20 field goal