The Minarets Mustangs (2-4, 0-2) traveled to Riverdale (2-5, 2-2) last week, losing to the Cowboys, 49-12.
Minarets is playing short handed having lost five starters in the last three weeks. With a roster of 19, losing five starters to injury, as well as discipline issues and players leaving the team has had a big impact.
After the Cowboys scored twice in the first quarter, the Mustangs answered with a Mason Ellis touchdown to put the team on the board, at the close of the first quarter. Ellis would go on to rush for 124 yards on nine carries (13.8 YPC). That was as close as Minarets would get, as the Cowboys put the game away early, scoring three additional TDs in the second quarter to take a commanding 35-6 lead.
The Mustangs scored once more in the second quarter, but the Cowboys added 14 points in the third to make it 49-12.
The Mustangs running game was respectable, with 147 yards on 21 carries with one of those a 76-yard scramble from Ellis. With the Mustangs air game struggling, the Cowboys loaded the box and focused on stopping Ellis. Quarterback Luke Pritchett was 1-5 for 10 yards with one interception.
Junior Chase Gauthier had four carries for 21 yards, Michael Rendon added another 10 yards on three carries, while senior Jeremiah Benzie contributed another 10 yards on two touches.
The Mustangs, without the services of running back Holden Cordle and tight end Jacob Walker to shoulder injuries, have struggled to find replacements for their offensive input as well the defensive side of the ball at linebacker.
Seniors Ellis, Sam Smith and Christian Low have turned in some gutsy performances, seldom leaving the field.
“Over the last three games, we’ve run into some of the best teams we’re going to play this year,” Coach Bob Kelly said. “We need to work to keep getting better in the face of tough competition. We start well, but then we hit a bad patch in the second quarter and the games have been getting away from us. If we can maintain our composure at a high level throughout the game, we have a chance. I’m proud of our overall effort. We’ve never quit and we’re learning to handle adversity. Our seniors (Ellis, Smith, and Low) have led us through thick and thin. We've also had some strong efforts from juniors like (Gauthier) and Josh Lynch. We’re looking to finish this season on a strong note.”
The Fowler Redcats (4-2, 1-1) come to Minarets this Friday for a 7 p.m. game that features two teams headed in different directions.
Fowler is coming off a 40-0 thumping of Orange Cove. The week prior, Fowler beat Parlier 52-13.
In contrast, the Mustangs are searching for ways to shore up the line and give Pritchett more time in the pocket. Teams are keying on Ellis as he contributes most of the Mustangs offense.
The Mustangs were averaging 30 points a game before the latest round of injuries cut its point production in half.
The J.V squad, coached by Jackson Lakatani, won for the first time in three weeks, 7-6.