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courtesy of MaxPreps.comMaxPreps.com
Arizona high school football playoff preview: Mountain Pointe versus Desert MountainNov 8, 2012 Norris Vaughan and Tony Tabor, like a lot of coaches in Arizona, are transplants.
Vaughan, who is in his fourth year at Mountain Pointe (Phoenix), hails from Georgia where he won 125 games. Tabor, in his seventh year at Desert Mountain (Scottsdale), has done most of his coaching in Arizona, but got his start in his home state of Oklahoma.
It should make the pregame meet and greet before Friday's Division I quarterfinal game filled with hearty laughs and Southern accents when No. 1 Mountain Pointe (10-1) hosts No. 9 Desert Mountain (9-2).
"I know his mentality," Tabor said of Vaughan. "He's from my part of the country and has an old-school approach. He demands a lot out of them. It's obviously led to some good things."
Once the game gets underway, though, the focus will quickly turn to the passing games rather than the coaches' backgrounds.
The Pride and the Wolves bring two of the more prolific passing combinations in the state, including two highly-recruited 2014 wide receivers.
While Mountain Pointe has a more balanced offensive attack, Desert Mountain does most of its damage with the passing game behind junior quarterback Kyle Allen and wide receiver Mark Andrews. The tandem is one of the main reasons the team has been able to distance itself from the 0-10 season of 2010.
The Wolves managed to win four games last season with Allen and Andrews making most of the impact. But now, as juniors, they are simply tearing defenses apart.
Allen, who Tabor called the smartest kid he has ever coached, has completed 73 percent of his passes (189 of 259) for 2,892 yards with 35 touchdowns and seven interceptions. Andrews is clearly his preferred target with 78 catches for 1,421 yards and 21 touchdowns.
"I sit there and go back and forth about who is the one driving this thing and I can't decide," Tabor said. "I see them in meetings and practice and both of them do everything they can to get better."
Vaughan isn't as conflicted as his coaching counterpart. In Vaughan's opinion the offense clearly starts with Andrews, the 6-foot-6, 220-pound walking mismatch that lines up at wide receiver.
"I don't know how you stop someone that big," Vaughan said. "He (Andrews) is not like anyone I have ever seen. He looks like an NFL guy and probably will be someday. He is incredible. He is not just big and strong. He can do everything."
The Pride have their own version of a formidable combination in junior quarterback Antonio Hinojosa and junior wide receiver Jalen Brown.
Both have shattered season and career school records, with Hinojosa's 27 touchdowns this season setting the school's career record in just his first year as a starter. The left-hander has thrown for 1,952 yards on 60 percent (115 of 192) passing with nine interceptions.
Brown, who has been with the varsity since his MaxPreps Freshman All-American season in 2010, has been dominant as well with 56 catches for 1,124 yards and 17 touchdowns.
"He is a true-blue wide receiver/defensive back type kid," Tabor said. "He is a super athlete with big-play potential. He makes people miss and seems to score every time he touches the ball."
While the game will feature high-flying passing games, the Pride also brings running backs Garette Craig (1,216 yards, 22 total TDs) and Thomas Warren (702 yards, 11 TDs), who have given defenses trouble all year long.
"I think their running game sets up what they do; we have to try and contain that running game," Tabor said. "They're going to get it into their athletes' hands. If they can run it's going to be a long night because they'll run and run and run. We have to try and slow it down."
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Jason P. Skoda, a former Arizona Republic and current Ahwatukee Foothills News staff writer, is an 18-year sports writing veteran. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 480-272-2449.