With every new year comes new hopes, dreams, and goals, and this season is no different for the Minarets Mustangs football team.
First year head coach Becher Marr, a former Yosemite High player, has installed the Spread Offense, which typically places the quarterback in the shotgun formation as opposed to taking snaps from under center. It also spreads the defense horizontally using three, four, and sometimes as many as five receivers.
Many spread offenses also employ the ‘no-huddle’ approach which the Mustangs will use.
Coach Marr, most recently an assistant with the McLane Highlanders, has also added some new faces to the program in Shondel Hogan, Paul Varner, Daniel Lynch and Chance Marr.
Hogan played at Hartnell University and has coached semi-pro ball for eight years and will coach receivers and defensive backs. Marr’s brother Chance played quarterbacked at Tusculum Collage and will be the offensive coordinator for the JV team as well as working with quarterbacks at both levels.
Varner is the only returning coach from last season and will work with the lineman. Lynch was a player on the first Mustangs team.
With a young team that features only one senior returning from last year, Marr is excited to host a group from last year’s very successful JV team which finished the season with a winning record (5-2), and impressive wins against Sierra, (33-0), Fowler, (28-14), and a great showing against D-I San Lorenzo with a 20-13 loss in the game’s closing minutes.
The Mustangs have about 26 players on the varsity squad. At quarterback the Mustangs are deep with returning QB Luke Pritchett, along with junior Jacob Cullen, who took over for Pritchett last season due to injury. Cullen is an elusive mobile passer, and the team expects to chalk up big yardage with Cullen reading the option. Sitting in the wings is second year player Noah Fulton, a 6-foot-3 junior with an impressive arm.
The Mustangs will feature senior Chase Gaither in the backfield along with Tyson Ellis. The team will have depth at most positions this season, something they have lacked in previous seasons.
With a new weight program started two years ago, Coach Marr is excited at the results he has seen over the summer. Junior lineman Austin Niblett, who was pulled up to varsity last year, is expected to anchor the line.
The receiving corps will be led by E.G.Walden and Preston Conti.
Last year the Mustangs showed improvement on the defensive side of the ball but still had trouble holding leads. On the other hand, the JV team, under Jackson Lakatani established themselves as a defensive power, setting records in takeaways. Marr inherits a solid, well educated group from last years team.
Returning middle linebacker Jacob Walker will be a presence on the defensive side of the ball. Walker has been playing at the varsity level since his sophomore year and improves with each season. Bobby Barr is expected to share linebacker duties for the Mustangs.
“We have a great group of players who have been working hard all summer,” Coach Marr said. “With a new coach you aren't sure how things are going to go but these kids listened to what I had to say and bought into what I have been saying and we are flying. We will be doing the same things at the varsity level as we are at the JV program. I will be on the sidelines for the JV games as the season gets underway.
“My goal is to have these players continue to buy into the program as they move forward as a team and stick together,” Marr continued. There are going to be times when things get tough, we get tired, we get winded, but if they stick together, we’ll be heading in the right direction. I feel like we are going to be successful, we have so much explosiveness. We will win games and put up points. I want teams in the Valley to know Minarets football.”
The Mustangs will travel to Orosi on Aug. 26 for a scrimmage.
The team’s first game is at Sierra Sept. 2, followed by a Sept. 9 game against the Mariposa Grizzles at Minarets. On Sept. 23, Yosemite will visit Minarets in the two teams’ first game against each other. JV games start at 5 p.m. with the varsity playing at 7 p.m.