Curt Schilling famously downplayed the New York Yankees’ mystique and aura heading into the 2001 World Series.
The Diamondbacks went through plenty of adversity in those seven games against Major League Baseball’s most storied franchise before eventually capturing the title on Luis Gonzalez’s ninth-inning bloop single.
Twelve years later, the Mountain Pointe football team seems to be in a similar position.
The Pride have started 5-0 on the year with huge victories against Las Vegas Bishop Gorman and Chandler. An elbow injury to linebacker/running back Wesley Payne is a big loss, but Mountain Pointe didn’t miss a beat without him against the Wolves.
On Friday, top-ranked Mountain Pointe will face off against Arizona’s best program, Hamilton, in one of the most highly-anticipated regular season games of the past decade. The Huskies are 4-0 but have struggled to put away Pinnacle and Henderson (Nev.) Liberty the past two weeks, dropping them down from No. 1 to No. 2 in the rankings.
Between Mountain Pointe’s hot start and its superior balance, it has become the favorite to win this game.
However, this is where the ‘mystique and aura’ fits in.
The Huskies may be injury-riddled and in search of offensive firepower, but they are still the most intimidating team in the state. It’s been years since Hamilton was an underdog in a football game against an in-state opponent, and even when there have been upset picks du jour each year, more often than not the Huskies have snuffed them out.
On paper, Mountain Pointe has every reason to think it should win this game.
However, the Pride had equal optimism in last year’s championship game after beating Hamilton in the regular season, but was dispatched easily.
There’s one thing the Huskies have proven throughout the years: You must come out and beat them in big games. There are no freebies in contests like this because Hamilton will play conservatively and rely on its defense and special teams to make game-changing plays.
The game’s Xs and Os can be analyzed ad nauseum, but that may not be the difference in this contest.
Mountain Pointe has the talent to beat Hamilton. The question is, can it be funneled correctly? There’s a fine line between nervousness and excitement, between high energy and reckless abandon.
Many of the Pride’s key players have had several months to stew about the championship game loss, and this game is theirs for the taking.
Hamilton, though, will not go down without a fight.
Is Mountain Pointe ready to assume the throne?