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Senior cornerback Ciyre Simmons (25) has been a big contributor after waiting until his final year to get a shot for major playing minutes.
Trey Lauer, left, and Jimmy Holtrop, right, are part of the first-time starters club who have helped Mountain Pointe become of the more dominating defenses in Division I.
The Mountain Pointe's defense has been one of the best in the state and has been helped out by first-year starters like Aaron Blank (51).
Mountain Pointe quarterback Antonio Hinojosa prepares the throw the ball during the 'Tukee Bowl between Desert Vista and Mountain Pointe on Friday, Sept. 7, 2012.
Outlook: After getting whipped by Horizon two weeks ago, Mountain Pointe put a similar whipping on Maryvale last week.
Thanks to a quintet of scoring drives from quarterback Kevin Yost, Glendale Mountain Ridge (6-1) methodically pulled away from Phoenix Mountain Pointe Friday night, defeating the host Pride, 39-22, on homecoming at the Ahwatukee Foothills campus’ Kiefer Stadium.
If Mountain Ridge Coach Bobby Green wanted momentum heading into league play next week, he got it Friday night. Junior wide receiver Cody Wollschlager stretched his long arm over the goal line to score the winning touchdown with 1:09 left in the game, giving the Mountain Lions (5-2) a 16-15 home win over Mountain Pointe (4-3). "Winning a game like this is a real positive and gives us momentum leading into a tough league match up with Desert Mountain next week," Green said. Green just had to wait for his offense to kick into gear, which came when Ridge needed it the most ? the final two minutes. "My hats are off to the offense," Green said. "They were resilient. They went into that two-minute offense and things started clicking. (Quarterback) Kevin Yost really stepped up tonight." "Yost played great tonight," said running back Giorgio Giurdanella. "Our line gave him great protection and he showed what he was capapble of." Down 15-9 with 2:09 remaining and 88 yards of field ahead of them, the Mountain Lions drove against a pass defense that gave up 100 yards passing and allowed just nine catches. Wide receiver Kenny Elgin hauled in a 30-yard lob along the right side line on second down, and Yost followed that with a completion to Anthony Perez for 21 yards, putting Ridge at midfield in 3 plays and 35 seconds off the clock. However, the drive appeared stalled as Pointe picked up its defensive intensity and forced three straight incompletions, setting up fourth-and-10 at the Ridge 38. Yost dropped back and threw a pass over Wollschlager's head who had his defender beat down the right side, giving the ball to the Pride on downs. The drive was kept alive, though, as officials flagged a roughing the passer penalty against Pointe, putting the ball at the 23-yard line with 1:26 remaining. After an incompletion to make it second-and-10, Yost hit an open Wollschlager at the 5-yard line. Defenders hit the junior at the 2 but he fought through the tackles and stretched for the go ahead score. "We've preached that we must play for 48 minutes, and tonight we did," Green said. "I'm really proud of these guys. They showed heart in the face of a lot of adversity. They proved their resiliency and showed how much fight they have." Yost completed just three passes on the nine play drive, but was 18-for-33 with 188 yards and a touchdown along with one interception. Wollschlager caught six passes for 58 yards and the touchdown to pace the Mountain Lion receivers. Pointe tried to answer after getting the ball at the 20-yard line with 1:09 remaining. Quarterback Brandon Cluff hit Markus Wheaton with a 20-yard strike, but, as was the case all night, the Ridge defense buckled down and kept after the Pride quarterback. Cluff threw three straight incompletions before hitting wide receiver Kresean Reed on a 13-yard pass with 41.5 left on the clock. On the next play, with Cluff in shotgun formation, the snap sailed to his right and once he regained possession the Mountain Lion defense was there to stop him and Pointe. Ridge forced two more incompletions to seal the victory. However, it almost wasn't to be for Ridge. Holding onto a 9-7 lead from three Jeff Locke field goals (32, 39, and 33 yards) and riding a defense that allowed 132 yards rushing, 62 of which came on the Pride's first attempt ? a touchdown run by Marquese Wheaton (17-for-107) to give Pointe an early 7-0 lead ? it was another big play that hurt the Mountain Lions. Pride quarterback Adel Begaied, who the Mountain Lions sacked twice on the night, found Markus Wheaton along the left side line and burned a pass that went through linebacker Brian Cunningham's hands, giving Wheaton open field to beat the Ridge secondary and giving Pointe a 15-9 lead with 5:18 remaining. "We could have went in the tank at that point," Green said. "But like I said I'm proud of these players and the coaches for not giving up and still playing hard. There was on give up in them." With the Pride defense focused on stopping senior Giurdanella (18-for-98, and three catches), it was up to Yost's arm and the receiving corps to keep the offense moving. While they earned just 320 total yards, it was enough. However, the Mountain Lions lost a key piece when wide receiver Ryan King suffered what Green said he hoped was a stinger on his left shoulder, which happened midway through the first quarter. He sat on the sidelines, pads off, with an ice pack on the injury and then came out after halftime with his left arm in a sling. "We'll evaluate him this weekend and see if it's just a stinger," Green said. "He's really carried us this season, so let's just hope it's that ? a stinger." BOX SCORE Scoring POINTE: 1Q 9:39 TD - Marq. Wheaton 62 run (Mora kick good). 0-7. RIDGE: 1Q 5:04 FG - J. Locke, 32 yards. 3-7. RIDGE: 2Q 2:55 FG - J. Locke, 39 yards. 6-7. RIDGE: 4Q 11:53 FG - J. Locke, 33 yards. 9-7. POINTE: 4Q 5:18 TD - A. Begaied 72 pass to Mark. Wheaton (Begaied run good). 9-15. RIDGE: 4Q 1:09 TD - K. Yost 23 pass to C. Wollschlager (J. Locke kick good). 16-15. Rushing (att.-yards-td) POINTE: Marquese Wheaton 17-107-1, Jeremy Lefebvre 6-5-0, Adel Begaied 4-18-0, Brandon Cluff 4-(-6)-0, Markus Wheaton 2-6-0, Greg Taylor 1-8-0, Sean Tevz 1-(-5)-0; RIDGE: Giorgio Giurdanella 18-98-0, Kevin Yost 8-34-0, Bret Hager 1-0-0. Passing (comp.-att.-yards-td-int.) POINTE: Begaied 5-13-101-1-0, Cluff 5-11-73-0-1; RIDGE: Yost 18-33-188-1-1 Receiving (comp.-yards-td) POINTE: Mark. Wheaton 3-100-1, Will Claye 2-34-0, Michael Woodham 2-8-0, Kresean Reed 1-13-0, Tevz 1-13, Marq. Wheaton 1-6-0; RIDGE: Wollschlager 6-58-1, Anthony Perez 3-28, Giurdanella 3-0, Jesse Whitlock 2-26-0, Travis Hutchinson 2-21, Elgin 1-30.
Mountain Pointe’s Michael Moore returned the opening kickoff 86 yards for a score and the Pride were rolling in a 67-0 rout of visiting Phoenix South Mountain (1-3) Friday.
Coming back re-loaded from its first state championship appearance in 2012 (a loss to Hamilton), the Mountain Pointe football season began at the Barry Sollenberger Classic in Las Vegas, a place where whatever happens there is supposed to stay there. Only it didn’t. What Mountain Pointe did to Nevada-powerhouse Bishop Gorman in the opening-week victory was televised nationally and became the appetizer and the impetus to finishing No. 6 in the final MaxPreps national poll. The Pride went 14-0 in convincing fashion with the closest margin of victory being 10 points as they fulfilled senior lineman Natrell Curtis’ preseason promise to earn a ring. The offense was multifaceted, the defense was as physical and fast as any this state has seen according to several opposing coaches, and the coaching staff made all the right decisions to give the Mountain Pointe its first state football title, which vaulted the Pride to No. 6 nationally, according to MaxPreps.com.
Mountain Pointe running back Wesley Payne (5) jumps over Red Mountain's Alex Sepulveda (7) during the Div. I quarterfinals playoff game between Mountain Pointe and Red Mountain on Nov. 15, 2013.
Boulder Creek tight end Dan Johnson (2) is tackled by Mountain Pointe linebackers Isaiah Jones (32) and Austin Cronen (33) during the football game between the Pride and Jaguars on Friday, Nov. 8, 2013.
Pride wide receiver Jalen Brown (2) was another big reason why the Pride finished undefeated in the regular season in 2013 and wrapped up the No. 1 playoff seed in Division I.
Mountain Pointe fans wear all black for the Ahwatukee Bowl on Oct. 4, 2013.
The Pride were far and away the most impressive team in the first half of the season. They began it with a win over nationally ranked Las Vegas Bishop Gorman, added a thumping of Chandler and, on Friday, outclassed Hamilton from start to finish to improve to 6-0. Mountain Pointe has a fantastic defense and a pair of offensive stars in running back Paul Lucas and wide receiver Jalen Brown. The Pride should run the table and head into the Division I state tournament as the top seed and title favorite.
Honorable mention: Desert Ridge, Queen Creek.
Mountain Pointe cornerback Dominique Fenstermacher (6) tackles Wolves running back Chase Lucas (20) during the football game between Chandler and Mountain Pointe at Chandler on Friday, Sept. 20, 2013.
Pride running back Brandyn Leonard (22) scores a touchdown during the football game between Chandler and Mountain Pointe at Chandler on Friday, Sept. 20, 2013.
Mountain Pointe senior Kyle Spigth controls the line of scrimmage against Maryvale on Sept. 12, 2013.
Pride wide receiver Tyree Shivers (12) blocks a tackle by Champions defensive back Kamon Clayton during the football game between Cesar Chavez and Mountain Pointe at Cesar Chavez on Friday, Sept. 6, 2013.
Ka’wuan Ellis might have overshot it just a tad, but he still has some bragging rights.
The lightning may have delayed the game but it did not take long for Mountain Pointe to strike against North.
The Mountain Pointe football team got acquainted to Fertitta Field the night before the Barry Sollenberger Classic against Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas) and were clearly loose and comfortable in the surroundings.
Mountain Pointe wide receiver/defensive back Jalen Brown (2) will be the center of attention of most opposing defenses.
The Mountain Pointe schedule starts in Las Vegas but has a familiar difficult stretch mid-season that could define the season.
The Mountain Pointe girls 4x100 relay team finished third at the Division I state meet.