Amire Williams Mountain Pointe

Tempe Union Mountain Pointe senior running back Amire Williams (8) breaks away on a run against Phoenix Union Cesar Chavez, in a 6A Central conference high school football game, Saturday, October 9, 2021, at Karl Kiefer Stadium in Ahwatukee Arizona. (David Minton/Staff Photographer)

Mountain Pointe coach Eric Lauer said this week’s matchup against Cesar Chavez had the making of a “trap game” for the Pride for a variety of reasons.

The Champions, with Just over 30 players on the roster, play with a chip on their shoulder every week and have surprised teams early on this season. Couple that with it being fall break for Mountain Pointe, which Lauer said throws the players off their routine and the Pride’s performance in the first half is what one would expect.

But a fiery halftime speech from Lauer and the rest of the coaching staff ultimately brought Mountain Pointe out of its first-half funk en route to a 49-21 win over Cesar Chavez on Friday night.

“We called them out at half,” Lauer said. “We heard some comments like this didn’t feel like a game. I know they weren’t in school, and they didn’t have the same crowd but that’s no excuse. (Cesar Chavez) showed up, we have to show up. We got back to what we do and who we are in the second half.”

The Pride outscored Cesar Cavez 34-7 in the first half after putting just 15 points on the board through the first two quarters of play.

Neither team could maintain a rhythm, thanks mostly in part to numerous stoppages of play and penalties from officials. The two teams combined for 24 first-half penalties. By the time the near three-hour long game was finished, 30 flags were thrown for well-over 200 yards.

At times, the penalties stalled drives. On one occasion in the first half, it helped extend Mountain Pointe’s.

The Pride faced a third and short when senior athlete Amier Boyd was stuffed on a designed run from the quarterback position. But a facemask penalty on Cesar Chavez gave the Pride a new set of downs. A couple of plays later, junior quarterback Chris Arviso came back into the game and found Boyd from 7 yards out.

On the Pride’s next drive, Arviso led them down a short field and carried it in himself on a 1-yard read option play to give Mountain Pointe its first lead of the game. It was a bounce back drive for Arviso who threw a pick-six interception on the first play of the game. He was also sideline at one point during the game after he was hit in the upper torso area. After being evaluated for a concussion, he was able to return.

His first-quarter pass to Boyd — who took snaps at quarterback at different times throughout the game — was the only passing touchdown of the game as he finished 7 of 11 for 75 yards. But he routinely helped extend drives.

“Quarterback got a little banged up, but he came back in and did a great job,” Lauer said.

Mountain Pointe flipped a switch in the second half. The defense, which had played well all game despite giving up a touchdown in the second quarter, swarmed Cesar Chavez ball carriers. The Pride forced two fumbles the Champions managed to recover. However, the Pride defense also forced an interception that was returned for a touchdown by Jacques Jones in the third and a scoop-and-score by Boyd in the fourth.

Cesar Chavez managed to score in the fourth quarter with the game already decided, as quarterback Jorge Beltran — a transfer from Mountain Pointe — connected with Myseth Currie from 10 yards out.

Despite the score, the Champions were held to 207 yards of offense on the night.

“It was just a good bounce, and I knew nobody was going to catch me,” Boyd said of his scoop-and-score touchdown. “It was just a big play. The team took advantage of everything we were able to. It was just motivating to be able to play like that.”

The play from Mountain Pointe’s defense allowed the offense to flourish behind the legs of senior running back Amire Williams. On the Pride’s first drive of the quarter, they went 90 yards down the field. A 30-yard pass and catch from Arviso to senior wideout Terryon Rowe opened the Pride’s rushing attack.

Williams carried the ball four times on that drive for over 50 yards and a 14-yard touchdown. Most carries came behind senior left guard Jack Plote and freshman left tackle Kaleb Jones. He went on to score two more times in the second half, a 2-yard run in the third and 39-yarder in the fourth.

He finished with 125 rushing yards on 12 carries.

“All the credit goes to the offensive line,” Williams said. “Jack and Kaleb, man, they do their job and make things way easier for me. We came out a little shaky in the first half, but we played Mountain Pointe football in the second half.”

The win for Mountain Pointe was the second straight after dropping two in the week’s prior. At 3-2 overall, the Pride are still in position to make the postseason for the first time since 2018.

But they know a slow start in the first half will hurt them in their upcoming games. Especially Thursday, Oct. 14 against a Basha team that has been on a tear all season and is virtually a lock for the Open Division playoffs as one of the top seeds.

“We’re not going to be able to compete with any other teams going forward with that kind of half,” Lauer said. “We didn’t have our QB1 those two games (we lost). That’s different going forward. Now it’s about seeing how many we can win here and hopefully be around when playoffs come.”

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

 

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