Desert Mountain has a chance vs. Mountain Pointe
It’s one of the “new” matchups this week, and doesn’t bring the name recognition of Hamilton-Desert Vista, Red Mountain-Brophy or Saguaro-Desert Edge. That’s why Desert Mountain is excited for a matchup with top-seed Mountain Pointe.
“This is what’s cool about the playoffs, you’re finally playing someone you never see,” said Wolves coach Tony Tabor, once a substitute teacher at Mountain Pointe when he first moved to the Valley in the mid-1990s.
Yes, there is the win-or-go-home reality which ought to excite anyone, and the Wolves are underdogs against No. 1 Mountain Pointe playing at home, but the Wolves have a real chance to win, and here’s why:
The passing game: Mountain Pointe’s defense has been locked in for the past month (eight points allowed in the past four games) and even though Corona del Sol put points on the Pride in the second half of their game while it was already out of reach, there’s no question Mountain Pointe has playmakers with Jalen Brown, Wesley Payne, Landry Payne, Thomas Warren, Antonio Hinojosa and Jimmy Holtrop.
But Mountain Pointe – despite its difficult schedule and impressive resume of wins against Hamilton, Desert Vista and Chandler – hasn’t been pushed in a game since Brophy in late September.
Desert Mountain has Kyle Allen, who’s easily the best QB Mountain Pointe has seen since Brophy (Tyler Bruggman) and the Broncos gashed Mountain Pointe in a big way in the second half of that game, Mountain Pointe’s only loss this season. The Wolves also have Mark Andrews, a matchup problem with his size (6-foot-6, 220 pounds) who’s been arguably the best WR in the state this season. He’s seen double-teams and rolled coverages this season, and sometimes the Wolves will force the issue him anyway. But they’ve also successfully found Cody Erickson, Steven Campbell and Alec Waltman open while the defense follows Andrews.
Desert Mountain has also run the ball this season, notably with Daniel Fedorka. That’s going to be a tough task against Mountain Pointe’s big defensive line and the Pride’s outside speed. The Wolves know they’re not likely to be able to run up the gut on Mountain Pointe, but if they can create enough balance to where the Pride has to acknowledge it’s part of the game, the Wolves have a chance.
“We have to run enough to keep them honest, and pick and choose what plays to run and when to be successful,” Tabor said.
It’s no secret the Wolves need to score points, a 10-3 or 21-17 game isn’t likely to work. The Wolves have scored 40 or more points in eight of their nine wins this season (a win over Chaparral being the lone exception).
Still, they must try and play defense, especially against the quick Garette Craig (1,216 yards, 15 touchdowns) which sets up Antonio Hinojosa and Jalen Brown in the passing game. the lefty Hinojosa and Brown have hooked up for 1,127 yards and 17 TD, both school records for Brown.
“I think their running game sets up what they do, we have to try and contain that running game,” Tabor said. “They’re going to get into their athletes’ hands. If they can run it’s going to be a long night because they’ll run and run and run. We have to try and slow it down.”
“Now it’s time to put up or shut up. They got some explosive skill kids, we’ve got some explosive kids. They can score. We’re going to have to score. We’re going to try and get after them and make them play a full game.”