The Minarets High Mustangs (1-4) got into the win column in a big way last Friday with a 41-6 homecoming win over Orosi (1-4).
The team was led onto the field by the Minarets equestrian team, featuring six horses prancing to the sound of Hank Williams Jr's "Are You Ready For Some Football?"
From the opening kick-off, the Mustangs dominated the Cardinals as they drove the length of the field in four plays, capped by a 26-yard touchdown run by Sam Reyes. By the half, they had the game well in hand with a commanding 35-0 lead.
Minarets had five rushing TDs from 231 rushing yards. Reyes scored two TDs a 25-yard run and a two-yarder. He finished the game with 49 yards on three carries.
Junior Zak Clayton added two TD's a 13-yard run and an eight-yard run. Senior quarterback Keenan Reardon scored on a quarterback sneak from two-yards out.
Clayton led the ground attack with 76 yards on eight carries, but was lost in the third quarter following an injury and is expected to miss the next two games.
Senior Angel Saenz contributed 55 yards on eight carries, and senior Mitch Pritchett added 40 yards on six carries. Pritchett had a 26-yard punt return in which the powerful runner shed eight tackles before Orosi brought him down, giving the Mustangs great field possession on the Orosi 40 yard line. Minarets went on to score.
The defense got into the scoring column following a blocked field goal attempt. Sophomore Mason Ellis blocked the kick, picked up the ball, and scampered 91 yards for the score.
Minarets came into the game surrendering 41 points a contest, but the defense stepped up controlling the line of scrimmage throughout the game. Orosi's run game was nonexistent.
Their passing game didn't fair much better as quarterback Tyler Villareal was hurried all night by a relentless Mustang rush which had three sacks on the night.
Nose guard Hunter Hatleli along with Tackles Daniel Lynch, Matt Niblett and "Big" Jake Blankenship, 6-foot-6, 240 pounds, played their best game of the season.
Mustangs kicker Chance Carter kept the Cardinals deep in their own territory throughout the game, recording five touchbacks.
"I'm proud of the players for having continually gotten better until it finally showed on the scoreboard tonight," said Bob Kelly, head coach. "We're learning how to play good football and our running game is getting better. We almost had 300 yards rushing for the second week in a row as our line is getting to know the finer points of our offense."
Kelly said all five running backs (Saenz, Pritchett, Clayton, Reyes, and Kyle Reed) played well and Daniel Lynch, Nate Lopez, and Austin Nelson blocked well up front.
"Our defense is also learning how to play with urgency and the fact that we had a shutout until late in the game shows we're getting better," Mason Ellis' blocked field goal and big touchdown return was the play of the game as it gave us a two score lead." Chance (Carter) is as good a kicker as I've had in 25 years of coaching."
The Mustangs JV squad rolled to a 41-7 win against the Cardinals. Running back Luke Tovar, a freshman, ran for 285 all purpose yards and two TDs. Holden Cordel added two more rushing TDs and quarterback Luke Pritchett hit Jacob Walker for two TDs.
"All our tools are coming around, from blocking to running, to passing, to tackling," said Coach Bob Tovar. "We are firing on all cylinders and it's showing on the scoreboard. The boys are fundamentally sound and peaking just in time for league play."
The Mustangs will need a repeat performance if they hope to compete with the Caruthers Blue Raiders (2-3) this Friday. Caruthers is currently second in the West Sequoia standings. It will be the toughest, most physical, game of the season for the Mustangs but it couldn't come at a better time.
A big win would give the Mustangs momentum going into league play, facing the lightest part of their schedule.
Game times: JV, 5 p.m. varsity, 7:30 p.m.