Final thoughts on Pride-Chandler clash

After sleeping on a wild and crazy game here are a few final thoughts before moving on to a rematch of the last two Division I state title games.

I haven’t heard an update on Chase Lucas (cramps, stomach flu), but what an impressive showing he had. It was only the second time I’ve seen him play and he was stellar on a 99-yard kickoff return and a 71-yard rush up the middle for scores.

If he is lining up in the backfield in the second half I am guessing we are talking about Chandler being the No. 1 team right now.

Mountain Pointe’s Davis Perrott has become the Pride’s top lineman.  He played defensive end last year and mostly tight end before that as a younger player.

It means this kid, who stands 6-foot-5 and 270 pounds, is just learning and he is already a beast. He has the quickness, great hips, strength and uses his leverage well that will serve him well at the next level now that he is getting offers from Cal, Nevada, San Diego State, Boise State and others.

Chandler’s first two possessions ended in turnovers – a fumble by Lucas (recovered by Keondre Churchwell) and interception by Bryce Perkins (picked by Isaiah Pola-Moa) – allowed the Pride to start their first two drives inside the 30-yard line that led to eventual touchdowns.

In my five years of covering Mountain Pointe, I am guessing the Pride have an 85 percent rate of taking advantage of such situations. Good teams double down on the opposition’s mistakes and Mountain Pointe seemingly always come through.

Brandyn Leonard loves to run against that Chandler defense.

The Pride senior running back has four career 100 yards games and his two highest totals have come against the Wolves as he ran for 177 last year against them and added 239 on Friday.

As good as he was this year, he was more impressive in 2013 when the load was thrust upon him after Wesley Payne got injured in the first quarter.

“The linemen were blocking real well and we kept getting yards, yards and yards,” Leonard said. “It’s easy to see the holes when they are that big.”

Not sure what to make of the second half when Chandler outscored Mountain Pointe 14-3.

Clearly the Wolves won the second 24 minutes and got back into it without Lucas. The Pride defense gave up some big plays  and were gassed in playing their first full game on a humid night.

But if John Abercrombie, who 3 for 4 coming into the game including a 50-yarder, makes his two field goals and the extra point in the first quarter the margin of victory is different.

The Wolves defense  maintained the edges and the safeties got deeper while defensive front did a better job getting off blocks.

And yet Mountain Pointe still ran for 138 yards in the second half. It just seemed paltry compared to the  404 yards they put up in the first half. Most coaches would take 140 yards rushing per half and 4.5 yards a carry average. Chandler just never left Leonard of Paul Lucas shake loose for the big one or the end zone.

Through five games, Mountain Pointe has punted two times, missed three field goals and turned over the ball on downs once. Every other drive, I believe, ended with either a touchdown (40) or field goal (4) for a total of 296 points, including two 2-point conversions.

Leading up to the game Pride coach Norris Vaughan said he had to gain trust in his passing game. He believed in Garvin Alston and his receivers, but he wasn’t ready to let them loose just yet.

Then added, with a chuckle, maybe the Chandler game was the time to let them do their thing.

Apparently not.

Mountain Pointe didn’t throw the ball until the final drive of the first half and just once in the first 24 minutes. The Pride threw the ball four times total, completing two including once when Ralph Roman was wide open and  behind the defense in the seam. If Alston hits him in stride Mountain Pointe would have added another score.

“Our line and our backs were incredible,”  Vaughan said. “Our line was tremendous. If they would have stopped us we would have (passed more), but why do it if you don’t need to.”

Before the game I wrote I wanted to see what Paul Lucas could do with 20 touches, something he had never done on his career.

I guess we found out as he rushed for the fifth best total in school history at 286 yards. He never caught a pass or had a return opportunity. It all just came on 21 attempts.

It was impressive to say the least.

Wow, just wow.