Phoenix Mountain Pointe is still the team to beat in Division 6A.
The Pride made that clear Friday night, capturing a 27-13 win over host and fellow division power Mesa Desert Ridge to improve to 8-0 on the season.
“Desert Ridge is a very good team — physical, tough,” Mountain Pointe coach Norris Vaughan said. “It was a tough game.”
The Pride came out hot, scoring on its first three possessions on runs by Rashie Hodge Jr. which included a long of 24 yards.
Hodge did all the scoring for Mountain Pointe Friday and finished the night with four touchdowns. He stepped seamlessly into the limelight after Gary Bragg, the team’s leading rusher, went down with a season-ending ACL injury back on September 23rd.
The Pride was also playing without starting quarterback Noah Grover, who broke his leg last week against Gilbert Highland, but there were little signs of weakness Friday.
“We want to be the best team out there,” Hodge said. “We’ve got to be prepared to do whatever it takes.”
The Pride defense was stout from the start, holding the Jaguars to just two field goals through three quarters and a late touchdown in the fourth when the game was out of reach.
“Our defense is playing great football,” Vaughan said. “We’ve got some really great players over there.”
Desert Ridge was undefeated against Arizona teams heading into this game and found itself on its heels early Friday.
“We played four games where we didn’t really see much competition and then we see these guys,” Desert Ridge coach Jeremy Hathcock said. “Talk about going from the swimming pool to the ocean.”
The Jaguars started to find a rhythm on offense late in the fourth quarter, scoring on a 14-yard pass from CJ Fowler to Jalen Harris with 34 seconds remaining, but it was too little too late.
Desert Ridge drops to 6-2 on the season. The Jaguars coach already has his eyes on postseason rematch.
“We found that we can actually play with them a little bit in the second half,” Hathcock said. “Hopefully we’ll see them again. I think we will and I think we’ll be ready.”