The Minarets Mustangs (2-8, 2-3) ended its season on a positive note, winning the last two games of the season after losing the first eight - a 28-6 win over Parlier Oct. 31, and a 18-12 victory over Laton (1-9, 0-5) Nov. 7.
As expected, Minarets rode the back of Mason Ellis. The 6-foot-5 junior running back rushed for 136 yards on 30 carries, scoring all three of the Mustang’s touchdowns. It was his third straight 100+ yard game. The week before, against Parlier, he rushed for 203 yards.
After Minarets went three and out after the opening kick-off, Laton used nine minutes for a 70-yard drive, ending with a touchdown from two yards out.
The second quarter was much the same for Minarets as the Mustangs of Laton again put together a successful drive resulting in a 25-yard field goal to go up 10-0 with 7:29 remaining in the half. .
Following a botched punt, Laton had a first down on the Minarets 16 yard line, but the drive was quickly stopped by a Bubba Ward interception in the end zone, a play that would become a game changer for Minarets.
Soon after, Ellis broke loose for an 81-yard TD to end the half. Minarets was down at half 10-6.
Although Laton did well early in the game containing Ellis, he soon scored again early in the second half, this time on a 63-yard run. Ellis scored his third TD in the fourth quarter.
Laton put together a drive with time running down in the fourth quarter, and scored with just under three minutes to play to pull with-in two points of Minarets, 18-16. An errant snap that sailed over the quarterbacks head while attempting the two-point conversion proved to be the difference as Minarets was able to run out the clock to secure the win. Ward led the team in tackles with seven solo and five assisted. Linebacker Sam Smith had five solo tackles along with five assists. Lineman Logan Christian finished the game with four solo tackles and four assists.
Mustangs receivers had a tough time catching the ball, dropping multiple passes thought out the game. Quarterback Justin Black finished the game just one of nine for eight yards.
Minarets brought up three more players from their JV team, Jacob Walker, Michael Reardon, and Chase Gauthier for the final game. The Mustang defense was much improved, following a shut out of Parlier last week - the defense had its second best outing of the season, surrendering only 16 points. The Mustangs will graduate eight seniors this season and look to be much deeper at all positions next season.
Ellis lead the team in almost all categories, including defense. He led the team in tackles in eight games, and led the team in receiving yards and touchdowns while playing wide-out and tight end. He had four kick-off returns for touchdowns on the season while returning three punts for touchdowns.
“It was a tough season,” said Coach Bob Kelly. “Seven of the 10 teams we played are playoff teams. We need to continue to emphasize the importance of weight training as well as conditioning in the off season. Our goal as a program is to be competitive against every team we play. We have an up road battle to gain on them, but I think the kids in our program are beginning to figure out what is needed to be successful, the commitment as well as the sacrifices during and before the season begins.”