The Minarets Mustangs (0-1) opened its football season on the road last Friday with a 42-16 loss to the Sierra Chieftains (1-0).
Sierra featured a punishing running game, totaling 364 yards on the ground on 27 carries - an average of almost 15 yards a carry. Shane Maldonado led Sierra with 107 yards, while junior Tristan Wilson added another 129 yards passing with one touchdown.
It was the season opener for both teams in the annual “Dam Bowl,” with the golden brick going the the game’s winner. The two schools have been playing for the brick since 2013. Last year the Mustangs won 26-0, and it looked as if the Mustangs would retain the brick this year after scoring two quick touchdowns, but both were negated with holding penalties.
Minarets managed six points in the first quarter and another TD before going to the half down 21-13.
The Chieftains added 21 points in the final two quarters to pull away from the Mustangs as Minarets could only manage a field goal in the final 16 minutes of play.
The Mustangs passing game was good for 265 yards as starting junior quarterback Jacob Cullen went 9 for 20 for 207 yards and 1 TD to Preston Conti. Cullen rushed for another TD.
Sophmore Aaron Hall completed four passes on 11 attempts for 58 yards.
Christian Conti led all receivers, with four catches for 115 yards. The Mustangs averaged 18 yards per reception with its new “spread” offense.
The Mustangs ground game was held in check, gaining 50 yards on 19 carries (2.6 yards a carry). Sophmore Tyson Ellis led all runners with 36 yards on eight carries (4.5 yards a carry).
On the defensive side of the ball, Hall led the Mustangs with 10 solo tackles, along with six assists. E.G. Walden assisted with six tackles while recording two solo tackles.
“We played a really strong first half and had a few touchdowns called back because of penalties, but overall we were very competitive,” said Becher Marr, first-year head coach. “The second half was loaded with turnovers for us which killed drives and momentum. We showed some explosive plays and our ability to spread the ball around which is great. Now the jitters are out and we can keep improving.”
The Mustangs host Mariposa this Friday, a team they have beaten twice previously. Mariposa dropped its season opener to Summerville 49-39. Outscored 28-19 in the first half, Mariposa scored 19 in the second half but was unable to close the gap, despite scoring 13 points in the final quarter.
Like Sierra, the Mustangs will see a strong ground game from the Grizzlies who ran for 407 yards in their opening week on 49 carries.
Senior Josh Land was the workhorse for Mariposa, with 294 yards on 34 carries and three TDs. Sophomore Colton Weidner also scored rushing, carrying the ball 11 times for 89 yards.
“We have another tough opponent this week and we will need to execute better but I believe we are up for the challenge,” Marr said. “It should be an exciting first home game.”
The JV teams play at 5 p.m., with the varsity game scheduled to kickoff at 7:30.