Sunday Rewind: Tukee Bowl about to get defensive - Ahwatukee Foothills News: Prep Sports

Sunday Rewind: Tukee Bowl about to get defensive

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Posted: Sunday, September 4, 2011 1:00 am | Updated: 4:20 pm, Thu Sep 8, 2011.

The Mesa football program began the season in a unique position, taking a tour of "the world's largest cul de sac."

The Jackrabbits might have some complaints for the Ahwatukee Foothills Chamber of Commerce and Visitor's Bureau.

At least when to comes to Ahwatukee's football programs.

Mesa opened the year at Desert Vista in Mesa's season opener on Aug. 26 and then hosted Mountain Pointe on Friday.

From Mesa coach Kelley Moore's perspective there isn't much difference between the two football programs that sit just 4.2-miles away from each other.

"They are similar," Moore said. "Not in the way they go about it because they are different styles, but they are both big, strong and fast. They wore us down and out."

The results were very similar as DV won 38-6 and Mountain Pointe came away with a 41-0 victory.

Both teams are living up to the preseason expectations and it makes this Friday's match up at Mountain Pointe (1-1) one of the better early season contests.

The Thunder (2-0) will find a more confident offensive team when the coaching staff watches the second game tape of the Pride's first two games.

The Mountain Pointe offense looked particularly impressive against Mesa. So did the defense, but that is just a repeat performance after playing well in the season-opening loss to Hamilton. The offense looked comfortable, smooth and anything but one dimensional.

Pretty much the opposite of how it performed against Hamilton in a 17-7 loss.

"The offense was totally different tonight," sophomore wide receiver Jalen Brown said. "We believe in each other and made some big plays."

Brown (3 catches, 85 yards, 3 TDs) and senior quarterback Dillan Johnson (240 total yards, 4 total TDS) were in the center of it as Johnson proved to be the dual threat the coaching staff envisioned him to be when he was handed the position before spring ball.

He had runs of 34 yards and 66 yards to get the Pride out of a 99-yard predicament in the first quarter and then Johnson's right arm started to loosen up as he threw three touchdown passes to Brown spanning the second and third quarters.

Mountain Pointe coach Norris Vaughan was calling out "Air Johnson" after the game and was happy to see the improvement in one week.

"The offense got going and that was something we needed to see before heading into the Desert Vista game," he said. "They are a great team and we had to gain some confidence."

Confidence isn't something the Thunder players are lacking after outscoring their first two opponents - Maryvale and Mesa - by the combine score of 101-6.

The Desert Vista offense has tremendous speed - see Kaleb Germinaro if you can make him out as he goes by in a blur - discipline, a power running game and talented drop-back quarterback in Hunter Rodriguez.

The Pride defense has speed and played well enough to put an end to Hamilton's win streak last week, but gave up a late touchdown when the players were physically spent from being on the field too long.

The unit played with an edge against Mesa and wanted to re-establish itself as the team's heart-and-soul.

"We were looking to get better after losing to Hamilton," senior defensive tackle Mark Fraboni said. "We just want to get better, better and better. We worked hard in practice and got after it."

Mountain Pointe defensive coordinator Jeff Decker is pleased but knows he can squeeze more out of his ripe bunch.

"We played hard again, but we need to tie things up," he said. "We had some mistakes in our rush containment and taking the wrong angles. I was pleased with the effort but we just have to get better at what we do."

Desert Vista has been even more impressive defensively but against a lesser schedule.

The Thunder will get its first real test against Mountain Pointe, while the Pride will face its second 2010 state semifinalist in three weeks.

What does it mean less than a week for now? Hard to tell, but the 15th edition of the Ahwatukee Bowl has the makings of something special.

"It's going to be a great game," Moore said. "I wish I could watch it."

Contact writer at (480) 898-7915 or JSkoda@ahwatukee.com. Follow him on Twitter @JSkodaAFN.

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Jason P. Skoda
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