The Minarets Mustangs (0-1) opened their season last Friday night, not the way they were hoping, with a 45-9 loss to the Sierra Chieftains (1-0).
In their first game as a member of the West Sequoia League, the Mustangs came out ready to play. The night looked promising for the Mustangs as 5-foot-10, 185 pound return specialist Zack Armas brought Mustang fans to their feet with an 80 yard return for a touchdown for a Minarets 6-0 lead 15 seconds into the game. A Scott Parker PAT put the Mustangs up 7-0.
The teams exchanged possessions before an interception gave the Chieftains great field position, leading to a field goal.
What looked to be a great game, turned quickly as the Mustangs turned the ball over a second time, an interception by Mustang junior QB Keenan Reardon led to a Sierra TD pass from QB Clay Jones on a 4th and long from the Mustang 18 yard line that to put the Chieftains up 10-7 following the PAT.
It was all Sierra the rest of the way. Sierra went on to score 35 unanswered points for a 45-7 lead late into the 4th quarter.
The Mustangs scored a safety late in the game when an errant hike from center sailed over backup quarterback's head and out of the end zone.
The Mustangs did have some bright spots in the game -- tackle/defensive end Matt Niblett, 6-feet, 200 pounds, had 12 tackles, six assisted tackles and two sacks on the night. Niblett watched from the sidelines last year after being lost early in season to a knee injury. The junior wasted little time in establishing himself as the Mustangs top play stopper.
New team member Andru Alverez, (transfer from Bullard), had 7 tackles playing linebacker with 4 assisted tackles.
"Sierra played at a high level on both sides of the ball" Mustang coach Jay Smoljan said. "We need to do a better job up front and not turn the ball over on offense."
The Mustang JV team lost 39-19. The young squad surrendered 14 points on turnovers, one coming after freshman Justin McLoed returned a Chieftain punt 55 yards to the 1 yard line, only to have it returned for a touchdown after a fumble.
Sophomore QB Justin Black enjoyed decent protection and threw the ball well. Mason Ellis, Black's target of choice at 6-foot-2, scored on a 35-yard reception.
The Mustangs, still in search of the schools first varsity football win, will face Immanuel (0-2) at home Friday night. Immanuel lost to Lindsay last week, 34-7.
Although the Mustangs offense is capable of putting up better numbers, they will have to find a way to get the ball in the hands of their deep threat receivers, Sam Reyes and Scott Parker. Both should have good numbers as the season progresses, along with 6-foot-3, 185 pound receiver Connor Reid.
The new bleachers, with an added seating capacity of more than 400, should be full Friday night as the Mustangs mascot horse leads the team on the field for the first home game of the season. JVs, 5 p.m., varsity 7 p.m.