by Head Football Coach Chris Brown
The state #2 ranked West Grand Mustangs traveled to play the # 5 ranked Caliche Buffs in what turned out to be a solid win for the Mustangs. West Grand was without 2 important starters, Austin Stauffer and Marcus Sanchez, and early in the 2nd quarter saw starting TE-DL Noah Dickerson leave the game with a knee injury. Still the Mustangs found a way to overcome these huge setbacks and proceeded to dominate the second half.
The opening drive set the tone for the game as they marched 63 yards in 5 plays ending with a Luis Dominguez 22 yard TD run. A pass from Luis to Hugh Wheatley made it 8-0. Caliche responded with a long drive consisting of blasts inside by senior batter rams, 230 pound Joss Kokes and 215 pound Adam Zink. They failed on their conversion and the Mustangs led 8-6.
The quick-striking offense was again in action and the drive ended with a 8 yard TD run by Rene Dominguez. He added the 2 point conversion run and the first quarter scoring ended 16-6. As with the opening game the line of Marcos Ramirez, Josiah McDonald, sub Jordan Knight, and sub Austin Schake opened big holes for the quick backs. The pass protection was excellent again but the ground game was churning out mega yards so the airways were not used as like last week. Still Hugh Wheatley caught a diving 19 yard pass to keep a drive alive and added a 7 yard TD and a 2 point reception. The Mustangs went into half ahead 24-14. They never trailed in this exciting game 250 miles from home.
The second half was a repeat of the first, with lots of great hitting from both sides. Caliche prides itself with being physical and their size and weightlifting background was meant to wear down the smaller, quicker Mustangs. The boys from the mountains were having no part in being whipped physically. They overcame a fumble and blocked punt in the second half, both times stopping the Buffs on 4th down. The Mustangs scored once in each quarter on runs of 32 and 50 yards for TD’s by Luis Dominguez. With 10 minutes the Mustangs held the lead 38-20 which was the final score. Luis and the offense managed the clock superbly down the stretch.
The highlight for this game though would have to be the masterful plan and adjustments made from 49 year veteran defensive coach Maurice Noll. Due to three starters being out plans were made, remade, and then changed. Sophomores “Hondo” Castanon, Ely Ryszkowski, Austin Schake, and junior Ashton Williams played “lights out” in their first lengthy varsity action. To make it more special this was a top Northern Plains league team,loaded with 19 senior/juniors. Ely, a quick 153 lb Linebacker, moved to guard to battle 6-4, 385 pound “Big Country” Funkhouser. Junior newcomer Collin Warren playing with a bad groin pull showed his grit lasting until late in the 4th quarter.
Hondo recorded 16 tackles including a sack, while regular starters Marcos Ramirez 11 tackles, Hugh Wheatley 16 tackles, and Jordan Knight an amazing 23 tackles. Without a doubt those 3 seniors had their finest games ever on the defensive side. Coach Brown said, “This was the best early season tackling we’ve ever had in my 43 years. We don’t go live in practice so we tend to start slow in this area but all the players were going low on those two brutes and wrapping. Textbook fundamentals”!
This Friday night West Grand returns home for a 7pm contest with South Park 1-1. The Burros last year played the Mustangs the closest in the regular season and just missed the playoffs in the RPI standings. They look to compete for the Central League title, while the Mustangs winners of 7 of the last 8 titles in the WSL want to repeat. This will be the last non-conference game for the team.