Mountain Pointe to play in Barry Sollenberger Classic - East Valley Tribune: VarsityXtra

Mountain Pointe to play in Barry Sollenberger Classic

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Posted: Wednesday, February 6, 2013 2:27 pm

The Mountain Pointe football program is headed to Nevada to open the season.

After Hamilton coach Steve Belles said earlier in the day the Huskies were not going to the Sollenberger Classic, Pride coach Norris Vaughan confirmed that the Pride will be by announcing as much during the program's national letter of intent signing ceremony in the gym lobby.

 

"It's a great opportunity for us," he said. "We will playing a team that is nationally ranked and it is probably going to be on ESPN. We are honored and excited."

The Pride will play national-power Bishop Gorman on Friday, Aug. 16 at Gorman and Tucson Salpointe Catholic will be face Liberty (Nev.) on Saturday, Aug. 17, based on last year's timing Week O.

"These kids here (those five signing letters of intent) are one of the reasons this is possible," Vaughan said. "We've had a lot of success with this group and hopefully it will continue with the group we have coming back."

Belles confirmed Wednesday that the Huskies were asked to be involved in the Sollenberger Classic but were unable to come to an agreement for a variety of reasons, one being Hamilton already has two out-of-state games partially in place.

The Huskies are playing Liberty (Nevada) on Sept. 20, and another game against a San Diego-area school for a Brothers in Arms event over Labor Day weekend.

AIA Executive Director Dr. Harold Slemmer wouldn't comment, saying too many loose ends still remain. He added they hoped to have everything in place to present to the AIA Executive Board at the Feb. 19 meeting.

Belles said the school offered to move its game against Liberty to the Sollenberger Classic (which the Huskies committed to two months ago and wanted to stick to it).

But after the Chandler school district asked for a $28 million override that failed last November, traveling out of state three times in one year wasn't a good idea.

"The override didn't pass and we want to do right by the school district," Belles said. "Ultimately, that is more important than any football game."

He also knows that some people are going to say the Huskies are ducking Gorman

"We told (the AIA) a month ago we would not be able to play Bishop Gorman if it was in Nevada," Belles said. "If it was in Arizona we would be able to play them."

In Belles' mind the AIA didn't want to have Hamilton in the game.

Hamilton let the AIA know of their prior commitments and the possible date move of the Liberty game. The response, according to Belles, came back that the AIA would look at other teams.

"That says to me (the AIA) didn't want Hamilton in this game," Belles said. "They had a month to work on it. It's not that we don't want to play Bishop Gorman. We would have played them at NAU. The AIA has a job to do and I respect that."

An opponent for Hamilton in San Diego is still being figured out. On Wednesday, Belles called Bishop Gorman coach Tony Sanchez to see if the two teams could meet in San Diego, but Gorman is already playing Servite (Calif.) that weekend.

"We are in the process of figuring that out," Belles said. "Now what might make us look bad is if we can't find a team and we have to play an Arizona team. We are working on that and I hope it works out because then we did lose our opportunity to play Gorman and then that would be our fault."

However Hamilton's schedule shakes out, it appears it has opened a door for Mountain Pointe, the state runners-up in Division I last season.

The Pride will have an opportunity to play one of the nation's best programs that is expected to  be just as good as year's past.

Gorman is 57-3 since Sanchez took over before the 2009 season. Bishop Gorman lost to Hamilton (24-17 in 2010) and beat Chaparral (42-22) in previous Sollenberger games.

It is something Vaughan has been building toward and a chance to play in this game, representing Arizona, will be something special.

Mountain Pointe is still struggling to fill out its schedule and it is even worse now that Phoenix North has been moved out of the section.

The Pride has to find six games - one is expected to be Centennial (Nev.) - outside of their section games (Desert Vista, Brophy, Corona del Sol and Dobson) so it is one of the reasons they've had to look outside of the state.

Contact writer: (480) 898-7915 or JSkoda@ahwatukee.com. Follow him on Twitter @JSkodaAFN.

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