It’s the return of high school football as the Barry Sollenberger Classic kicks off, pitting Mountain Pointe out of Ahwatukee against Bishop Gorman, a top 20 school in the nation out of Las Vegas.
According to Rivals.com , Mountain Pointe is ranked 19th in the country, Bishop Gorman is 18th.
“We think athletically we can line up with them, but size wise, we cannot,” said Mountain Pointe head coach Norris Vaughan. “They’re loaded. They’ve got eight or nine guys 290 pounds of bigger.”
It’s not just Bishop Gorman’s size that has the Pride’s coach concerned, it’s the high level they play at.
“They’ve been in the top 10 in the country three years in a row and they’ve only lost one game in 40 games at home. Mountain Pointe has never been in this territory before. They’ve never been to the state finals and now we’re playing in a big game, but not just the Sollenberger Classic. We’re playing against not only the Nevada State Champions, but a national team.”
The game will be broadcast nationally in a game that Mountain Pointe has been preparing for since they lost to Hamilton in last year’s state championship game.
“I think playing in the state championship game last year will help us in preparation for this game. So hopefully this game will spring board us toward other things later on... we hope!” said Vaughan.
Star receiver Jalen Brown added that, “From watching film, I don’t think they’re too good for us to beat. I think overall we can beat them.”
“We’re looking at it like it’s a bowl game. We’re gonna go out there and we’re gonna try to win it and we’re gonna enjoy. I want our kids to enjoy every moment of it,” said Vaughan.
But so far, injuries have plagued this year’s Mountain Pointe team. Three hundred and forty pound offensive guard Natrell Curtis has been forced to wear a brace on his arm while suffering from tricep tendinitis. Top-ranked receiver Brown hasn’t been able to practice all summer. He’s been out with a high ankle sprain. But don’t sell Mountain Pointe short. The Pride is expected to once again make a run for the state title in Division I.
“I think skill wise, it’s the best Mountain Pointe has ever had. Lineman wise we have the experience from last year of mostly everybody returning, and then some transfers helped as well,” Brown said.
For Coach Vaughan, a win on national television would be great, the goal isn’t necessarily coming home with a “W."
“You know, it’s a great experience for the team regardless if we win or lose. It’s a learning experience that’s gonna help us down the road,” Vaughan said.
“My main focus is that we come together as a team and play hard,” added Curtis.
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