Are the Mountain View Mountain Lions for real? Judging from Friday’s 14-7 victory over Canyon Del Oro High School, all signals are pointing to yes.
While there is still an entire season ahead, Mountain View is off to a fast start, with a 2-0 record. The Mountain Lions opened the season with a victory over Marana, last week.
“Marana was a must-win game,” said new head coach Larry Branson. “Beating CDO was what we call the turnaround game.”
CDO, however, has surprised fans and critics, starting out 0-2, after losing the opener to Ironwood Ridge, last week.
Following Friday’s overtime loss, Coach Dustin Peace told his players they let the Mountain Lions hang around, and the young team took advantage.
“It’s only the second game of the year,” Peace said. “We’ve still got a long road ahead of us.”
At the end of regulation, the game came down to college rules in overtime, where both offenses got the ball on the 10-yard-line and had four plays to score.
Mountain View got the ball first. After two rushing plays for two yards, quarterback Cris Thorson did what he had been doing all night. He found the open man, connecting with Weston Kimmel on the right side for the eight-yard touchdown.
With the extra point, the Mountain Lions took a 14-7 lead, and it was CDO’s turn. After a loss on first down, the Dorados went to the passing game.
Quarterback Cooper Smith drew back, only to be sacked for a 10-yard loss. With 20 yards to go in two plays, the Dorados attempted another pass, which fell incomplete, bringing up fourth down.
On the final play of the game, Smith threw to his go-to receiver Blake Martinez, but the pass fell short, and the Mountain View stands erupted in celebration.
“It was awesome to see that pass fall,” said Brandon Konieczny, who sacked Smith twice. “We did a great job. I know I can count on every player on this team to do their job. Mountain View is coming back. Coach Branson and everybody on this team have a different attitude. We’re here to win.”
Branson credited the defense for attacking Smith and the Dorados’ running game, but he said Thorson’s management of the offense in the second quarter was the key to victory. In the game-tying drive before halftime, the Mountain Lions moved to a no-huddle offense, and Thorson was charged with calling the plays.
After a crucial pass interference play in the end zone against the Dorados, Mountain View capitalized when Jerry Teague made a leaping catch in the end zone.
In the first half, Thorson completed 8 passes for 69 yards.
“It was all about reading the defense, and calling the plays that were open,” said Thorson. “Tonight we played with heart. They came at us, and we came right back at them.”
Next week, Mountain View will host Desert View, and CDO will travel to Chavez High School in Laveen, Ariz.
In other region scores, Ironwood Ridge is now 2-0, defeating Marana 51-12. The Marana Tigers are 0-2.
Pusch Ridge Academy struggled Friday night, losing in a shut out to Empire High School 48-0.