Chants of “we run Tempe” and “we run ‘Tukee” echoed across Haskell Henshaw Stadium from Corona del Sol’s postgame huddle.
It was a not-so-subtle jab at the Aztecs’ district rivals and opposing 6A schools in nearby Ahwatukee. Earlier in the season, Corona del Sol knocked off Desert Vista in convincing fashion. On Friday night, the Aztecs completed the sweep of Ahwatukee schools with a 45-9 rout over Mountain Pointe.
“I didn’t come up with it, but, I mean, I agree with it,” Corona del Sol senior quarterback Quade Swearingen laughed. “We wanted to come out and punch them in the mouth and execute our game plan. With that attitude, I feel like we are going to win a lot of games and put pressure on people.”
Corona del Sol, a physical team by nature, aimed to establish that same type of presence against a Mountain Pointe team that at times can return the blows.
But an injury on Mountain Pointe’s first defensive play to senior captain and defensive end Zach Hay seemed to strip all energy from the Pride’s sideline. Hay remained on the Pride bench for the remainder of the game and used crutches to keep pressure of the injured left ankle.
Mountain Pointe coach Eric Lauer said that injury, while early, was an early turning point.
“Zach going down the first play, you could almost feel it, our wind went out,” Lauer said. “Then some things just kind of continued to spiral against us. Our resiliency hasn’t been fully built up yet.
“No excuses, that’s just where we are right now.”
Hay’s injury added to the already long list of players sidelined for the Pride. Short handed, they had few answers for Corona’s high-powered offense.
Led by Swearingen and 6-foot-1, 225-pound running back Anyale Velazquez, the Aztecs made quick work on their first offensive possession. Corona’s opening 65-yard drive was capped off by a 9-yard run by Swearingen. A Mountain Pointe fumble on the ensuing possession led to a 2-yard run by Velazquez.
The Aztecs knew they were in position to put the game away in a hurry.
“Every one of us trust each other,” Swearingen said. “Things haven’t started to go in the wrong direction for us so far, but we know if it does, we have each other’s back through thick and thin.”
A touchdown passes from Swearingen to wideouts Jake Schmitt and Mitchell Coakley, along with another rushing touchdown by Velazquez helped Corona quickly build to a 35-point lead at the half.
Velazquez managed to find the end zone once more in the third. The junior finished with 108 rushing yards and three touchdowns. Swearingen, who accounted for three total touchdowns of his own, was 11-of-16 for 149 yards through the air.
Mountain Pointe managed to get on the board late in the first half with a 26-yard Jack Barker field goal. As time expired, sophomore quarterback Chris Arviso found junior wideout Isaiah Ice-Robinson for a 14-yard touchdown.
Aside from the late-game score, the Pride struggled to muster up any offense. Junior quarterback Amier Boyd struggled to find holes in Corona’s secondary. He completed just four of his nine pass attempts for 55 yards and an interception. Sophomore running back Robert Moore III, in his first game since having to sit half the season due to transfer rules, found little room to run and had just 30 yards on the ground.
As a team, Mountain Pointe had 192 total yards of offense, but was unable to find the end zone until the final play of the game.
“I felt we had a good week of practice, but when it comes to man-on-man you have to execute,” Lauer said. “We just aren’t executing well. Every time we walk over to the video we see where it broke down. Guys see their effort just isn’t good enough.”
Despite a rough start to the season, Mountain Pointe (0-5) and its coaches refuse to quit. Lauer’s “Embrace the Chase” mantra continues to lead to players and parents alike to buy in to the process.
The Pride will face Mountain View (5-0) next Friday at Karl Kiefer Stadium.
“They’re not coached to give up, cave or fold,” Lauer said. “We need to make sure our Monday through Thursday continues to get better. It’s a blue-collar thing, we need to get back to work.”
Corona del Sol (5-0), meanwhile, is off to its best start since 2008.
Swearingen and his team haven’t yet started to think about what could be at stake should the Aztecs run the table. For now, they choose to take things one game at a time and will begin preparations for Dobson (2-3).
“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” Swearingen said. “We just have to do what we have these past five games and come in each day wanting to get better.”