Red Mountain v. Mt. View

It was the battle for Brown Rd. bragging rights as Mesa Mountain View (7–1/2–0) traveled a few blocks east to challenge Mesa Red Mountain (7–1/2–0). Beyond bragging rights, there was also the East Valley Region title on the line in this 5A D1 match up.

Red Mountain won the toss and elected to start off on offense. It was a healthy dose of RB Jarison Johnson on the first drive that started on the 20 after a touchback. Johnson had runs of 2, 12, 6, and 20 yards. FB Taylor Sare got a couple carries and a quick out pass on the drive as well – one that went all the way down to the Mountain View 21 yard line where the Toro defense tightened. Johnson couldn't turn the corner on 4th and short and was tackled for a loss yielding a turn over on downs.

David Hamblin started things off for the Toro O with a hand-off up the middle but lost a yard on the effort. It was back up QB Blake Decker behind center for the injured Alex Harris – and on his first pass he hit tightend Ron Taylor for a 32 yard completion. Another Hamblin hand off gained nothing, a swing pass to James Kempton gained 4 yards, and Decker called his own number with a keeper up the middle for 8 yards. Decker threw an incomplete pass to Taylor with Kolten Molina in on the pass break up. A pitch to Kempton gained 5 but Decker was sacked on the next play and that brought up 4th and 5. Mt. View went to the bag of tricks and opted for the fake punt on a direct snap but Red Mountain's David Blare sniffed it out and made the tackle behind the line of scrimmage – so Mountain View's first drive ended with a turn over on downs as well.

Four straight hand offs to Johnson moved the chains twice for the Lions but Taylor Perkins' pass intended for Chance Roberts was tipped and intercepted by Mountain View's Steve Daley. Mountain View moved the chains once after the turn-over, before a sack of Decker by Greg Gutierrez set up a fourth and long for the Toros who elected to punt the ball away.

It was a mixture of Johnson and Sare again as the Lions started their third drive. As the first quarter ended the Lions had the ball and were trying to get to the red zone. The first play in the second quarter was a Johnson run for 3 yards and a Lion first down. A pass attempt to Molina was incomplete but a holding call on Mountain View moved the ball to the 48 yard line and gave the Lions another first down. Sare took the ball for 6 yards and Johnson for 2 on the next two plays, before a reverse screen to Johnson gained 4 yards for a 1st down – the Lions were on the 33 and threatening to score. Perkins completed a pass for 7 yards to Nathan Chavez, but Johnson and Perkins were both tackled for losses on the next two plays, with solid defense by Brandon Mathews and Buddy Koozer for Mountain View. That set up a 4th and 7 from the 30 and Coach Jim Jones elected to go for the field goal – Colton Sheley kicked a line drive 47 yarder that hit the cross bar and bounced over. With a little luck, Red Mountain was on top 3 – 0.

Mountain View went to the air as they tried to reply with a score of their own. A Decker pass to Ernie Perea was good for 24 yards and the Lions roughed the passer giving the Toros extra yards. A couple Hamblin hand offs and a quick out pass to Kempton set up 1st and 10 on the Lions 36 yard line. The Toros smelled blood and went for the end-zone on a Decker pass attempt over the middle that went long, but the refs called a pass interference on the Lions secondary and a second personal foul call after the play on the Lions as well. The Toros had the ball 1st and 10 on the 11 yard line. Blare was in on the tackle of a 2 yard gain by Perea. Another 3 yards by Perea brought up 3rd and 5 on the six yard line. The Toros went deep into the play book as Decker handed off to Perea on a sweep who faked the run but threw incomplete to Taylor in the end zone. On 4th and 2, rather than kick the short field goal – the Toros went for it on a sweep play and the Lion defense stuffed the run and forced a costly turn over on downs for the Toros.

Working from their own 2 yard line, Johnson went to work for Red Mountain with just under 4 minutes left in the half. Johnson took the ball five times before Perkins hit Kelvin Pruitt in stride for a 23 yard gain. However, Johnson and the run game stalled and a Perkins sack brought up 4th and 11 with 51 seconds left on the clock. Red Mountain opted for field position and punted away. Mountain View ran a couple quick running plays before the half-time horn went off. After a half of football, the scoreboard showed Lions 3 – Toros 0.

Mountain View started on offense to get the second half going – but it was Red Mountain's defense that got the upper hand forcing a quick 3-and-out and a Toro punt.

Jake Fitzgerald grabbed the ball as the return man was knocked down resulting in a Toro penalty for obstructing the catch. Fitzgerald was able to gain decent yardage on the return so the penalty was declined. Two quick hand offs to Johnson and an incomplete pass by Perkins brought up 4th and 9 on the 31. Sheley was brought in for a field goal from almost the exact spot where he had made the 47 yarder in the first half, only this time the kick was blocked by Mountain View and returned for 20 yards by Alex Salas.

Mountain View's second drive of the half seemed to be going in reverse as Perea fumbled a sweep pitch and lost 10 yards. Then a holding penalty brought the ball back even further bringing up 2nd and 33 on the 24 yard line. But Decker went to the air and threaded a pass just beyond the Lion secondary and into the arms of Gary Bresnahan who out ran the defense and scored a 76 yard Toro touchdown. The PAT was good and Mountain View went up 7 – 3.

After the kickoff it was all Johnson – from 1st and 10 on their own 30 yard line. Johnson got the ball 6 times getting positive yardage each time. Perkins kept the ball on a keeper play and scrambled for 10 yards. On a key 4th and 1 play Johnson got the job done and moved the chains. Despite a couple holding calls the Lions were moving down the field. A pass from Perkins to Seth Derouen went for 12 yards across the middle and Kelvin Pruitt came in for a quick run up the middle for 2 yards. It was Pruitt again on 3rd down, this time he found a seam between the tackles on the hand off and went 23 yards for a TD. The PAT was good and the Lions answered Mountain Views TD with one of their own…10 – 7 Red Mountain late in the third.

Hamblin had some decent runs and Kempton caught a quick pass as the 4th quarter began. A Decker scramble lost 2 yards and CB Kolten Molina had a nice tackle and a pass break up on a bold 4th and 3 attempt in their own territory to force another Toro turnover on downs.

With excellent field position Johnson went 7 yards on first and 10 from the Toro 32 yard line. A quick pass from Perkins to Sare gained 5 yards. The Lions had the ball on the edge of the red zone with 1st and 10 on the 20. But the Mt. View D stepped it up with a serious tackle on Johnson by Keith Strickland and good side line to side line effort to force a 4th and 1 on the 11. Johnson was stopped short and it was Red Mountain turning it over on downs.

Mountain View went back to the running game on first and second down with little reward. On a third and 9 play Decker found a leaping Ron Taylor who made a nice grab for 12 yards and moved the chains. They should have went back to the air but instead forced the ground game on Red Mountain's seemingly fresher D-line and the Toros once again found themselves in a 4th and short situation on their side of the 50. Once again they went for it and once again the Lion D came up big when a pitch to Hamblin was stuffed by a couple Lion defenders including Zack Manis.

Red Mountain took over on the Mountain View 34 yard line and to no ones' surprise it was lots of Johnson running for 1 yard, 8 yards, 2 yards and 5 yards before the Toros called a time out. Red Mountain gave the ball to their big full back who was playing in his first game after coming off an injury – Sean Parsons took the hand off and rumbled 22 yards crossing the goal line at the left pylon as he leapt in the air. It was 17 – 7 after the made PAT and the 4th quarter was ticking away.

But the Toros would not go quietly. Perea took the kick off return 20 yards out to the 30. An incomplete pass to Brett Hardison drew a yellow hanky by the ref for pass interference on Red Mountain. A Decker pass to Bresnehan went for 15 yards. With first and 10 on the 29 yard line Decker threw into double coverage and big Ron Taylor some how came down with it in the end zone. The PAT was good and in just under two minutes the Toros had closed to within three 17 – 14.

Needing another score and with only 1:49 left to play the Toros went for the onside kick, but Red Mountain's Julian Madison was there to grab the ball. Red Mountain needed a first down and Mountain View needed a stop. Two Johnson carries and a Perkins scramble gave the Lions what they needed and the Toros could only watch and Perkins took a knee three times to let the clock run out. Red Mountain won 17 – 14 and claimed the 2007 East Valley region title.

Bottom line – This was just the type of game you thought you would see by these two teams. Lots of running plays, rare but efficient pass plays, and serious smash mouth defense by both sides. The Mountain View coaching staff can take the blame for this loss – several times they made the decision to go for it on 4th down rather than go for a field goal or play for field position and punt the ball away. Red Mountain capitalized and used its solid rushing attack to move the ball. Both defenses showed serious strength on multiple drives. In the end it was 3 points off of a quirky field goal that made the difference.

Game balls – Whenever you have teams like these two it is hard to pin point the "stars of the game." Each player plays sound fundamental ball and the teams play as a whole. A couple players stood out however. For Mountain View on offense Ron Taylor had a great game at the tightend spot and Decker did enough to win the game at the QB spot. On Defense, Daley had the pick, Strickland played hard on the line, and Mathews flew around at LB. For Red Mountain – you have give it to Jarison Johnson who went for over 200 yards and had no fumbles. Parsons and Sare helped out with the rush attack and Perkins played decent under center. On defense it was CB Molina and LB Blare that made their presence known in the Lion victory.

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