The matchup between Mountain Pointe (2-1) and Casteel (1-1) looked to be a competitive one on paper. Both teams had close losses and impressive wins so far in the young 2021 season.
Mountain Pointe spent most of the 2010’s dominating Arizona football. Now, with its best start since the 2017 season, the Pride are trying to reestablish their place as one of the better program’s year in and year out.
However, that process did not continue Friday night in its 35-6 loss to a Casteel team that had Mountain Pointe’s number the entire game.
Mountain Pointe senior Amier Boyd made his second consecutive start at quarterback for the Pride in the absence of junior starter Chris Arviso, who was dressed out for the game but didn’t play until the final minutes.
Boyd’s main focus was to make the right reads.
“Tonight, I just tried to go through the RPO’s, my reads,” Boyd said. “This week was about trying to read the defense.”
Arviso was unable to play last week against Perry with a “persistent injury,” head coach Eric Lauer said. He only saw a few snaps when the game was already decided in the fourth quarter. The quarterback position will be decided week-to-week going forward into the rest of the season.
It took a while for either team to break through on the scoreboard. Through the first quarter both teams had promising drives derailed by penalties.
The Pride drove to mid field quickly to start the game, a 10-yard plus gain for running back Jay’len Rushing, and a first down pass to wide receiver Jordan Huff showed promise. Then the Casteel defense settled in, for good, and forced the first of several pooch punts from Devon Sparks.
Casteel had the running game going all night, but the only time the Colts failed to execute a drive for points was the first. Long successful runs for both quarterback Landon Jury and running back A.J. Murphy were all for nothing, as a holding penalty brought them back and played a part in a missed 45-yard field goal.
The first quarter ended with the score tied 0-0. After that point it was all Casteel.
The Colts’ next drive saw their complicated offense explode. A mix of the run-pass option between Jury and Murphy set up a perfect play-action pass to tight end Bear Tenney, who caught the 25-yard pass to break open the scoring.
“We’ve got a multidimensional system,” said Casteel head coach Bobby Newcombe. “It allows us to do many different things and use a lot of different athletes.”
Following the first touchdown of the game, Mountain Pointe seemed to shoot itself in the foot every chance it had. Its next drive started with a first down but then was set because of a facemask penalty. Penalties hampered the Pride’s offense all night.
The Pride got the ball back after a Casteel punt and drove it down to the 20-yard line. Penalties turned a first and 5 for Mountain Pointe into third and 10. Which then led to a turnover on downs as they were desperate to put up seven.
Like almost every other drive, the Colts ran the ball consistently and marched all the way down to the red zone, handing the ball to Murphy who punched it in from 12 yards out.
Down 14-0 at halftime, Mountain Pointe coach Eric Lauer talked about what adjustments were made on defense, as the unit struggled all night.
“The quarterback run, he was setting the tone on the option. And we had to adjust, who has quarterback, who has pitch, and we weren’t able to,” said Lauer.
The second half saw the scoreboard lean even further in one direction, as Casteel’s defense clamped down on anything that the Pride ran on offense,
“They blitzed a lot, showed pressure all night. It was difficult to find the holes,” Boyd said, who was adamant after his 100-plus-yard rushing game that they will regroup and figure out what went wrong Friday night.
After a few possessions that ended in punts for both teams, Casteel started its second drive of the half on Mountain Pointe’s 40-yard line. Jeremiah Newcombe took it from there.
The sophomore entered the game as a wildcat quarterback and kept it on the option play and juked out at least three Pride defenders before he was off to the end zone with a 40-yard touchdown run.
Once Casteel’s lead was large enough, the Colts went to the ground.
“It’s usually a focal point, but we stuck with the run game because we had some early success,” Newcombe said.
Even with other players chiming in with their own chunk plays, the duo of Jury and Murphy gained over 200 yards. Murphy had 160 on 26 carries while Jury added 46 of his own on 9 attempts. He also completed 10 of his 13 pass attempts for 65 yards and a touchdown.
The 35 points scored by Casteel was the most Mountain Pointe had given up all season. The silver lining came as the game was winding down, when Sparks scored from 4 yards out to avoid the shutout. Arviso was in for that drive and led the Pride down the field.
Mountain Pointe, now 2-2 on the year, will look to regroup for its long roadtrip to Sierra Vista next Friday to take on Buena High School.
“We’re back to the drawing board tomorrow morning, it’s tell the truth Saturday,” Lauer said. “They have to pay for those penalties.”