The Minarets Mustangs football team traveled to McLane Aug. 18 for a preseason scrimmage before their Aug. 25 home opener against the Orosi Cardinals.
Head coach Becher Marr was impressed with his teams performance, including the play of senior quarterback Jacob Cullen, receivers Zack Redmond and Preston Conti, and running back Tyson Ellis. At 6-foot-4, Noah Fulton should see his share of receptions along with Conti and Redmond.
Cullen kept the Highlanders on their heels, throwing and running the ball for several big plays. Cullen hit both his wideouts multiple times, while Ellis averaged eight yards per carry. Adding 25 pounds in the off season, Ellis will no doubt be a force and defenses will need to gang tackle the running back to contain him.
It wasn’t just the offense Marr was impressed with.
“Defensively we are a much better team this season, guys understand the scheme much better this year and when everybody is doing their assignments, good things happen.” Marr said.
Marr enjoys a deep bench this year, which has not been the case for the Mustangs in years past. This is Marr’s second year after taking over for former coach Bob Kelly last season.
The Aug. 25 season opener for the Mustangs against the Orosi Cardinals will be a good test for the Mustangs defense, which was their achilles heel last season.
The Mustangs are carrying 33 players on their varsity squad, including 15 seniors and some very talented underclassmen. Yosemite High transfer transfer Chase Hatleli, 6-foot-3, 275 pounds, should make an impact, as should 260-pound Dimitri Belo, 230-pound Christopher Hershburger, and 225-pound Seth Patterson.
The linebacker corp should be solid with Payton Phillips and Aaron Hall in the middle (Hall led the team in tackles last season), Trevor Trimble, and Josh Urroz playing inside LB, along with Robert Barr playing outside backer.
Fans should expect a much improved Mustangs team this season.
“We are playing a highly ranked divisional opponent Friday night,” Marr said. “We have to limit mistakes - if we do that we will be very good. Guys are very excited to prove some people wrong and are excited with the way we played against McLane.”
Friday’s game against the Cardinals kicks off at 7 p.m., with JV playing at 5. The Mustangs will host the Chieftains of Sierra the following week, Sept. 1.