Mountain Pointe against Valley Vista, in a 6A Non-Conference football game

Mountain Pointe junior running back Christian Clark (6) cruises into the end zone for a touchdown against Valley Vista, in a 6A Non-Conference football game, Friday, September 2, 2022, at Valley Vista High School in Surprise Arizona. (David Minton/Staff Photographer)

Lightning high in the skies around the West Valley stayed far away from Valley Vista Friday night, as the Monsoons were kept from a downpour off, and on the field.

The Mountain Pointe Pride struck quickly, then went a bit dormant until a massive second quarter propelled them to a season-opening, 49-14, road win over the hosting Valley Vista Monsoon in Surprise.

Pride quarterback Chris Arviso II led his offense to a score on their opening drive, culminating with a punch-in dive from in short by running back Jay‘len Rushing. The Monsoon answered when Mikel Henderson caught a pass on the ensuing drive and just seconds in took it to the end zone to tie things up at 6-6 with just minutes elapsed off the game clock.

For a team with such high expectations, a slow start wasn’t exactly what head coach Eric Lauer had in mind but his team found its groove eventually.

He called it a bit of first-game jitters going up against a similar program like Valley Vista that is trying to turn the corner into contention.

It’s just one game, but the Pride look like team on the curve.

“We were a little rusty early,” Lauer said. “We are very rhythm oriented. … As we got through the second quarter, we started picking things up and being who we hope to be. Some little jitters, kinda. We haven’t played a big game yet. … Today was definitely one step forward opening Week One with a win.”

The Pride broke the game open in the second quarter, getting off a 6-6 tie after the first, with a 29-8 advantage in the second alone.

From there it was mostly easy going for the Pride: Arviso finished with four passing TDs, Rushing had one rushing score, Jayden Davis and Jaylen Johnson had one receiving touchdown each, while Christian Clark found the end zone three times — two rushing and one receiving — as part of a massive debut for the Pride.

“He is multi-dimensional; he can run the ball, catch the ball and just adds another layer for us for our offense,” Lauer said of Clark.

On the defensive side of things, Kahoua Leha had a pair of clutch defensive stops and Gary Tucker picked off a pass as the Pride kept the Monsoon to just one offensive touchdown. The lone score came after a long return leading to a short field, so the score was as much on the special teams.

As great as the offense was, the Pride defense was as much dominant in keeping the Monsoon from getting any sort of groove.

Vegas bound

The Pride have a chance they haven’t gotten since 2013: a game at powerhouse Bishop Gorman (NV). Sure, the Pride aren’t actually playing the power, instead drawing Arbor View at Gorman’s field, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t any less big for Mountain Pointe.

Arbor View is still a top-four team in Nevada. Arbor View is 2-0 with wins over Snow Canyom (UT) — 7-0 — in its opener and Shadow Ridge (NV) — 38-6 — last week.

“We are hoping we can play with them a little bit and keep on embracing the chase,” Lauer said.

The last time the Pride played at Bishop Gorman in 2013, they won and eventually went on to win the state title that same season — Lauer of course was on that coaching staff.

“I think it’s 5,000 but the bleachers are almost straight up,” Lauer said. “The crowd just sounds much larger. … We are excited about being there and they are always a real good host.”

Plus, playing at Gorman itself is an experience Lauer wants his players to soak in. The vibes are unlike anything found in Arizona with the vertical stands towering above the field.

Just as important as the game itself though, the team gets the chance to bond, take a true road trip as a group.

The team hasn’t had that opportunity due to the COVID-19-related restrictions they were in place the past two seasons.

“It’s going to be good,” Arviso said. “It’s going to be kinda like camp, how it’s a business trip and just straight business and I feel like that’s next level stuff.”

Even last season, a closer to normal year of sorts in some ways, Lauer felt his team now is closer with the pandemic restrictions further in the review.

“They already kinda care about each other on another level that last year didn’t,” he said. “I think that was still COVID residual but this year we have been fully out, getting after it in the weight room and hone in on our skills.”

Have an interesting story? Contact Zach Alvira at (480)898-5630 or Follow him on Twitter @ZachAlvira


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