The Minarets Mustangs (0-3) hosted the Tranquillity Tigers (1-2) Sept. 16 in what was expected to be a good matchup - and it was for three quarters - but the Mustangs lost to the Tigers 38-22.
The Mustangs led 7-6 after the first quarter, but allowed the Tigers to score 20 unanswered points and take a commanding 26-7 lead at the break.
Missed opportunities and missed tackles put the Mustangs in a deep hole down by 19, but Coach Becher Marr has a group of players that play to the end.
Tranquillity put the game on ice as the defense rose up in the final period to end any hopes of a Mustangs comeback by holding them scoreless.
Defense wins game, and the Tigers demonstrated that, holding the Mustangs to their lowest total yards output of the season. Minarets had 218 yards of offense (296 all purpose yards) on the game, from a Tranquillity team that had surrendered 84 points in their two previous games.
Mustang quarterback Jacob Cullen was 9 of 20 passing for 71 yards with two interceptions. He rushed 13 times for and additional 77 yards (nearly six yards per carry average).
Sophomore running back Tyson Ellis had 11 carries for 51 yards as the Mustangs ran the ball 27 times for 147 yards (5.4 yards per carry average). Cullen and Ellis both scored touchdowns on the ground, while Christian Conti hauled in a Cullen pass for the Mustangs’ third TD of the game.
Sophmore Aaron Hall saw a bit of action at QB connecting on one of two passes for 11 yards.
The Mustang defense did have some big plays in the game with Noah Fulton’s interception to end a promising Tigers drive, while Junior Payton Phillips blocked a Tigers field goal attempt.
Again Hall led the team from his linebacker position with four solo tackles on the game and assisting on nine takedowns. Phillips, coming back from an off season injury had four tackles with four assists. Grant Denny continues to learn the end position, and the senior contributed six tackles on the game, while fellow senior Jacob Walker had nine tackles (three solos).
Mustangs host Badgers Friday
It won’t get easier for the Mustangs as they host the Yosemite Badgers (3-1) this week. The Badgers are coming off possibly their best showing of the season beating Mariposa 51-38 - the same Grizzlies team that beat Minarets 42-23 the week prior. The Badgers appear to be running on all cylinders as they scored on the ground and through the air, while the Mustangs struggle to find consistency .
Quarterback Tristen Eames is a dual threat to pass the ball or tuck and run it at any given time. The Badgers running game is anchored by Johnny Varian and Luke Howell.This is the most talented group of Badgers in years, a tough group that went through a rough patch, many of them playing varsity ball as sophomores against the likes of Selma, Washington Union and those Liberty High Sectional Championship teams.
It is a game that has been circled on the schedule since spring practice started, and will be the first full football meeting for the schools. The Badgers come into the game favored based on its victory against the Grizzlies alone, but have played much more consistently than the Mustangs during the early part of the season.
To say this game is much anticipated is an understatement.
“YHS is playing great right now and has a lot of momentum ... it will take smart play and execution for us to come out on top but expect a fun, tough game,” Marr said. “These players live next to each other and have played together in the past, no one wants to lose.”
Minarets has added more bleachers this year to accommodate the growing numbers at the gate but is preparing for a standing room only crowd Friday. The JV game begins at 5 p.m., with the varsity kicking off at 7.