Mustangs come up just short in season-opening loss to Mariposa

Tyson Ellis, who led Minarets’ rushing attack with 118 yards on 18 carries, pulls away from Mariposa County’s Lonnie Breshears.
Tyson Ellis, who led Minarets’ rushing attack with 118 yards on 18 carries, pulls away from Mariposa County’s Lonnie Breshears. courtesy Minarets High Football

Mariposa County High held on to beat Minarets 15-13 Friday, Aug. 17 in O’Neals in a football season-opener.

Mariposa came back from a 7-6 halftime deficit and held a 15-6 lead early in the fourth quarter. Minarets closed the gap on a Preston Conti touchdown catch. With less than two minutes to play Mustangs quarterback Martin Urroz led Minarets down to the Grizzly 30-yard line but an interception by Christian Stockwell sealed the win for Mariposa.

Mariposa had six fumbles, three lost. Minarets had 10 penalties for 90 yards plus five interceptions. For both schools mistakes killed promising scoring drives.

“We felt good defensively but we had too many penalties and turnovers,” Mustangs coach Becher Marr said. “It’s hard to win any games with that many turnovers. Our defense gave up only six points. They got few passing yards. Our offensive and defensive lines played great. We will work to get better.”

It had to be an emotional night for Mariposa. Former head coach Ryan Oliphant stepped down mid-summer due to health issues. Longtime assistant Robert Stitts stepped in. And the Grizzlies played with a first-time quarterback.

Mariposa struck first early in the second quarter with a 65-yard drive, all on the ground. JC Davies scored on a 12-yard TD run. The point after failed but MCHS led 6-0 with 10:40 before halftime. Mariposa dominated time of possession in the first half with long drives.

Minarets receiver Rhett Samper looks for extra yardage between Mariposa County defenders. courtesy Minarets High Football

With 2:45 before half the Mustang offense responded. Key runs by Tyson Ellis and a 37-yard pass from Urroz to Zack Redman moved the ball to the Mariposa 20. From there Redman out-jumped a defender in the corner of the end zone for a TD with 56 seconds left. Redman kicked the PAT and Minarets went into halftime up 7-6.

Mariposa scored early in the third quarter. A Stockwell punt pinned the Mustangs at their own 1-yard line. On the next play the Grizzlies scored on a safety. Davies picked off Urroz on the next series and raced 35 yards for the touchdown. All of a sudden Mariposa was up 15-7.

The Mustangs closed in the fourth quarter. Minarets scored on a seven-play, 57-yard drive with Urroz connecting with Conti for a 22-yard TD pass. A key to the drive was Ellis getting a first down on a fourth-and-6.

Game stats

It was a first-time varsity start for Urroz. He was 11 for 27 with two TDs but had four interceptions. Urroz did connect on key throws and engineered two touchdown drives. Dropped passes also hurt Urroz’s numbers.

Ellis led Minarets rushers with 118 yards on 18 carries. “Tyson ran hard all night,” Marr said. “He will be tough to handle all year.” Johnny Alsup had four carries for 14 yards.

Redman (6-84, 1 TD) and Conti (3-42, 1 TD) led the Mustang receiving corps. Conti had two and sometimes three defenders shadow him on each play. Ellis and Rhett Samper each caught a pass for 20 yards. “Mariposa focused on eliminating Preston from the offense but Zack did a great job in making some big plays,” Marr said.

For the Mustang defense it was about stopping the run. Redman (13), Alsup (13), Ellis (10) and Boston Cisneros (9) led Minarets in tackles.

Bye week

Minarets gets an early season bye this week. The Mustangs will host Yosemite on Aug. 31.