The Minarets Mustangs (0-5, 0-1 West Sequoia League) traveled to Caruthers Oct. 8 to open WSL play against the always tough Blue Raiders (5-1, 1-1 WSL), who beat the Mustangs 56-15.
With just one loss, at the hands of undefeated Firebaugh, the Blue Raiders sit at No. 4 in the Fresno Bee’s D-IV rankings.
After a thrilling win against Farmersville Sept. 30, and a game that took three overtimes to win 42-34 against the strong Mendota Aztecs, Caruthers is the favorite to win the WSL title.
It was Caruthers that gave the Yosemite Badgers its lone loss on the season, 36-14 on Sept. 9.
The Blue Raiders are averaging 327 yards per game on the ground and another 90 through the air. Alex Puga supplied all the offense the Blue Raiders needed against Minarets, averaging 7 yards per carry and over 1,200 yards on the season.
The Mustangs, playing in front of a motivated homecoming crowd, scored in the first quarter as Jacob Cullen hit Christian Conti for one of his three receptions on the night, good for 78 yards. The Mustangs successfully converted the two-point conversation with a Conti pass to brother Preston Conti.
But that would be all the offense the Mustangs could muster until in the fourth quarter, when Cullen scrambled to the end zone for the Mustangs’ second score on the evening.
Caruthers’ ground game set the tone early as Puga racked up yardage to pad his season total.
Cullen was 13 of 25 for 179 yards on the game. The Mustangs gained 131 yards on the ground with Cullen leading the team with 65 yards on 10 carries.
Aaron Hall had three carries for 58 yards while leading all Mustangs with 11 tackles, including two solo. Chase Gauthier was second, recording seven tackles, two unassisted.
“It’s always tough losing games but we played much better football than we have the last few weeks,” Mustang Coach Becher Marr said. “The guys battled until the end.”
Mustangs host Riverdale Friday
The Mustangs host the Riverdale Cowboys (4-2, 1-0 WSL) on Friday. The Cowboys beat Tranquility 14-7 earlier in the season, prior to Tranquility beating the Mustangs 38-22.
The Mustangs have a chance at their first win on the season if they can limit turnovers and costly penalties that have cost them wins. On paper this may be a close game with the Cowboys scoring just 118 points in its six games, compared to the Mustangs’ 79 points of offense.
Riverdale holds the advantage on defense but Minarets looks to take advantage of playing in front of its home crowd.
Varsity kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m., with the JV game at 5.