Brian Brindley
ASU Student Journalist

Mountain Pointe and Chandler will be one for the ages

September 11, 2017 by Brian Brindley, Arizona State University

PHOENIX --- Arizona’s two highest ranked teams will face off on Friday night in a rematch of last year’s 6A state championship game.

The Mountain Pointe Pride (1-1) enter the matchup following a loss to California’s Chaminade High School by a score of 25 to 39. Despite the loss, the Pride remain second on the rankings of Arizona teams.

Even though their only loss last season was to Chandler in the state championship game, head coach of Mountain Pointe Norris Vaughan said that the past isn’t on his mind heading into Friday night.

“We don’t even talk about last year,” said Vaughan. “These guys have got to make their own way.”

Injuries are already having an effect on the team, senior running back Gary Bragg will again be limited in his carries as he was in the game against Chaminade.

The players at Mountain Pointe said that they are not nervous about backup players getting the start due to injuries.

Senior nose guard Shomari Hayes said that he saw good things in practice this week from the players filling vacancies due to injuries.

“I’m very confident, they do their job,” said Hayes.

Along with getting young players ready to succeed on Friday, a big focus at practice for the team was minimizing mental mistakes.

Mountain Pointe turned the ball over twice against Chaminade and both of those turnovers lead to scores.

Hayes said that mental errors were an issue in that game, and that they needed to be corrected in order to win against Chandler.

“We’re there physically, but mentally we have to be prepared,” said Hayes.

The Chandler Wolves (2-1) come into the game the defending state champions of Arizona, and the team that handed Mountain Pointe their only loss in the previous year. They also come into the game ranked first on the list of top Arizona teams.

In their last game against Pinnacle, they narrowly escaped with the win in overtime by a score of 35 to 28.

Like Mountain Pointe, Chandler is dealing with multiple injured players including their starting quarterback Jacob Conover being out once again with a shoulder injury.

Despite this, Chandler head coach Shaun Aguano said that he is confident in backup Billy Bolger.

“He’s a very bright kid,” said Aguano. “He has control of the offense…and he’s doing the right things.”

Bolger had his first varsity start in Chandler’s overtime win last week against Pinnacle, but he has been with the program for four years. He had 240 passing yards and 5 touchdown passes in the victory.

He also had help with a huge performance by junior running back, Ryan Anderson. Anderson had 106 rushing yards, 95 receiving yards, and 4 receiving touchdowns in the win against Pinnacle.

Bolger and Anderson playing well kept Chandler in the game but penalties kept Pinnacle in the game. Coach Aguano labeled them mental penalties and said that in practice this week he attempted to eliminate those from happening as frequently against Mountain Pointe.

“Running cures everything and we did a lot of running on Monday,” said Aguano.

Mountain Pointe will play Chandler on Friday September 8 at Chandler High School. Kickoff is set for 7:00 p.m.