LAS VEGAS – A host of new characters showed up in the second straight impressive season-opening win by Mountain Pointe.
Whether it was Austin Cronen getting a huge tackle for loss on a 4th-and-inches inside the Pride’s red zone, Timmy Hernandez catching over the shoulder fade routes for touchdowns with eight seconds left in the first half or Paul Lucas finding seems and treating them like 100-meter dashes, it is clear the Pride will sufficiently replace some of the talent gone from last year’s state runner-up squad.
Lucas scored on the first offensive play, added a second touchdown and finished with 144 yards on eight carries.
The second score came when the offense line and wide receivers down field created a huge hole and Lucas had nothing but green synthetic grass and white numbers in front of him.
“I don’t want to say all I have to say is speed, but that’s what I do,” he said. “I was in track form and that was my 100 (meter dash).”
He said contributing to something like this is better than winning individual titles in track.
“This is way better,” he said “We are family, we are a team. It’s not just me out there.”
Hernandez hauled in four catches for 87 yards including the nifty score just before halftime.
“I figured (with the defense) eyeing Jalen I’d get some chances to get some balls thrown my way,” Hernandez said. “We are happy to get out of her with a win and I was happy I could contribute.”
Missing future Sun Devil
Gorman strong safety and Arizona State recruit Armand Perry, who is 5-foot-11 and 185 pounds, was reportedly suspended for the game.
The play that epitomized the second half came when highly-recruited Natrell Curtis pulled and blasted Gorman middle linebacker Nela Otukolo. Curtis got into his chest and pushed him back about 10 yards before following him to the ground.
“He was talking all game and I don’t like talking so I told him when I come through I was going to get him,” Curtis said. “I had to do what I did. I’m stuffed after that meal.”
Hamilton coach Steve Belles found his way on the field via an Arizona Interscholastic Association sideline pass.
The presence of the coach from the team Mountain Pointe is trying to unseat as the perennial big-school power didn’t go over well with the Pride administration, namely principal Bruce Kipper.
Belles was eventually asked to leave, it led to some very heated exchanges but ended in a handshake.
Making the move
Mountain Pointe equipment manager Larry Todd has no safety net in Las Vegas.
“I had to bring all of the things I have stashed somewhere in the room that I know are there but almost never need,” he said. “I can’t run and get it when I’m in Las Vegas. So, yeah, we had to all of work to do to get ready for a trip like this because I didn’t want to need something and then not have it.”
Todd almost spent Thursday night putting fresh decals on the Pride helmets.
“Everything has to be right,” he said. “Anything just off won’t work. It can take 20 minutes or 3 hours depending on how steady the hands are.”
Exposure not too bright
ESPN is broadcasting 26 high school football games while Fox Sports1, which broadcasted the Pride-Gorman, game has a handful as well.
Some might wonder if it is too much for high school kids.
Not Gorman’s Tony Sanchez. It’s a learning experience.
“I think this is an educational environment in every sense of the word,” he told USA Today. “Not all of your learning takes place in the classroom. Even at a school like ours, 95 percent of our kids are not going to have the chance to play college football. It gives these kids an opportunity to play in a big game.
“It’s kind of a celebration for the student body and the school.”
Getting reacquainted with Sollenberger
In case it was known here is who the namesake Barry Sollenberger Classic is named after.
Sollenberger, who died on his 60th birthday in 2005, has been called a walking encyclopedia of Arizona high school sports history.
Sollenberger had been the AIA media relations director only since 1999, but prior to that had the informal title of Arizona high school sports historian for the better part of four decades.
He originated the Phoenix Metro Football magazine in 1970; has published Arizona high school record books for football, track, basketball and baseball; has been hired by about half of the state schools to research their athletic histories; and has spent what he once estimated as one day every week for the past 30 years at the state capitol poring over microfilm from every newspaper ever published in Arizona.
Sollenberger also was co-founder of the Arizona High School Football, City of Scottsdale, and City of Mesa halls of fame.
There was a time when Bishop Gorman wasn’t the Mecca it is now.
It originally opened in 1954 in downtown Las Vegas until the new 187,000-square foot facility opened in 2007 in the Summerlin suburb on 36 acres.
The Fertitta Family, which owns the Stations Casinos, where the Arizona schools stayed while in Las Vegas, are alumni and reportedly helped fund the $96 million building. They are also the primary boosters, along with UFC owner Dana White, for the football program.
Contact writer: (480) 898-7915 or JSkoda@ahwatukee.com. Follow him on Twitter @JSkodaAFN.