Fourth-quarter explosion carries Mustangs past Parlier in crucial contest

Minarets’ Zack Redman breaks up a pass in the victory at Parlier.
Minarets’ Zack Redman breaks up a pass in the victory at Parlier. Special to the Sierra Star

The Minarets High Mustangs traveled Friday, Sept. 28 to face a Parlier football team that was much better than its record indicated. In a back-and-forth game, the Mustangs (2-4, 1-2) edged the Panthers 49-46 in a West Sequoia League shootout.

This was a game Minarets expected to win but Parlier made the Mustangs earn it. It was a critical victory to keep the Mustangs’ Central Section Division VI playoff hopes alive.

“It was an awesome team victory,” coach Becher Marr said. “Our guys made mistakes early that allowed Parlier to stay in the game and get momentum. But our team never quit. We believed in each other. We knew we could pull it out. Every guy battled. It was an exciting game for everyone in the stands.”

Minarets led 21-13 after the first quarter. The Panthers took a 32-29 lead into halftime. Parlier (1-6, 0-3) stretched the lead to 39-29 at the end of the third quarter. Minarets responded with a 20-point outburst in the crucial fourth quarter.

Urroz and Conti lead the state; both are nationally ranked

Mustangs quarterback Marty Urroz had another strong performance. Statistically, it could have been his best game of the season. Urroz was 29 of 41 for 425 yards. Urroz threw for five touchdowns and had only one interception. Despite gaudy passing yardage, Urroz has thrown a number of interceptions. Against Parlier Urroz was not only on target, but virtually mistake-free.

Urroz continues on his school record-setting pace. He is the state leader in passing yards (and No. 6 nationally) with 2,031, according to

Since the inception of MaxPreps, no Mountain football player has ever achieved a No. 1 ranking in the state of California. Minarets now has two players with that distinction.

Minarets receiver Preston Conti caught nine passes for 200 yards and three touchdowns. It was Conti’s third 200-yard-plus receiving game this season. In just six games Conti has amassed 1,006 yards receiving and 14 touchdowns. Conti is the state leader in receiving yards and is No. 3 nationally. Conti averages over 22 yards per catch.

Other Minarets receivers had outstanding performances. Zack Redman caught five passes for 116 yards. For Redman it was the third game of the season with 100 yards or more receiving. Redman had a season-high 217 yards against Tranquillity on Sept. 7.

Jordan Rodkey and TJ Garner also had key receiving performances. Rodkey caught six passes for 65 yards and a touchdown. Garner had six catches for 54 yards and a TD.

Tyson Ellis had his fifth 100-yard-plus performance of the season with 106 yards on 24 carries and a touchdown. For the season Ellis has run for 900 yards on 115 carries. Ellis averages 7.8 yards per carry and has scored five rushing touchdowns this season. Overall, Minarets ran for 117 yards against Parlier.

On defense, Ellis led Minarets in tackles with 11, two of those for loss. Ellis also caused a fumble. Redman had six tackles and an interception. Johnny Alsup, Conti, Dayton Davis and Dylan De La Cruz each had five tackles. Conti also had an interception.

Mustangs face Caruthers

Minarets travels to face its toughest opponent of 2018, the Caruthers Blue Raiders. The game is scheduled for Friday, Oct. 5 at Caruthers. Game times: JV 5 p.m. and Varsity 7 p.m.

Caruthers is 6-0 and 2-0 in the West Sequoia League. Caruthers and Orange Cove (7-0, 3-0) are on top of the WSL. Caruthers, coached by Brandon Ward, is coming off a 12-1 season in 2017 when the Blue Raiders won the WSL and took home the Central Section Division V title. Caruthers lost the state championship game at Orange 46-43.

The Blue Raiders have won 17 of 18 since the start of 2017. They are ranked No. 3 in the loaded Central Section D-V bracket. Caruthers has outscored opponents 236-48 this season.

The stingy Blue Raider defense is allowing opponents an average of just 6 points per game. Two weeks ago Caruthers defeated Parlier 49-14. The high-powered Minarets offense will be a good challenge for the Blue Raider D.

“We know this will be our biggest test of the year,” Marr said. “Caruthers is always good. They are sound in virtually everything they do. We have to protect the football and play mistake-free.”