The Mountain View Mountain Lions (3-2) are learning that the road through Salpointe, Cienega, and Ironwood Ridge is not to be treaded lightly.
Salpointe is ranked 12th in Arizona, Cienega 11th, and Ironwood Ridge is 10th overall. The week before, Salpointe defeated Mountain View easily.
Many rank Cienega’s Bobcats as the No. 1 team in Southern Arizona, and the team’s prowess showed as the Bobcats easily defeated the Mountain Lions last Friday at Mountain View, 31-3.
This week, Mountain View will face Tucson. However, on Oct. 7, the Mountain Lions will face off against another powerhouse opponent, Ironwood Ridge.
Cienega’s Manny Vera proved himself to be a real game changer as he rushed for 153 yards and three touchdowns.
“Their running game is so much better than ours,” said Mountain View coach Larry Branson.
A team total of 55 yards rushing won’t get it done.
But in fairness, the Mountain Lions have been battling with injured players.
“With injuries, we’re playing without a fullback or a tight end,” Branson said.
Fullback Marcos Mcmillon was shifted to playing defense because of injuries, while Cecil Fuentes was moved back to his natural linebacker position.
“I don’t mind filling in,” Fuentes said. “We were not intimidated this week. We did good against Manny (Vera) last year.”
Fuentes had a couple of tackles for losses, and the defense did hold the Bobcats to just 7 points in the first half.
Considering that the Bobcats had been averaging 46 points a game, the defense has to take some pride in their efforts.
Vera broke off a 35-yard run in the second quarter to get the Bobcats offense moving. Two plays later, he had a highlight-reel run in which he crisscrossed across both sides of the field and went 37 yards for a touchdown, and a 7-3 Bobcats’ lead.
Devon McPeek’s interception at the end of the first half helped the Mountain View defense hold the fort.
“McPeek did a good job defensively,” Branson said.
The Bobcats scored on their first possession of the second half. A 34-yard pass completion moved the ball down to the Mountain Lions’ 3-yard line, before Vera scored to make it 14-3.
The Mountain Lions’ defense held tough after a blocked punt set up Cienega at Mountain View’s 15-yard line. The Bobcats were forced to settle for a 47-yard field goal by Jason Cox.
But after that, the Mountain Lions’ offense promptly gave the ball away, as Cienega’s Dino Eidson grabbed an interception. Two plays later, Vera ran it in for a 20-yard touchdown, and an insurmountable 24-3 lead.
It may have all seemed so easy when the Mountain Lions rolled to three straight victories to start the season. Even after their loss to Salpointe, they still found themselves ranked seventh in Southern Arizona.
Mountain View’s biggest Achilles heel seems to be its offense, as the team gained just 78 yards and netted just four first downs.
Next, the Mountain Lions hope to regroup for homecoming night against Tucson at 7 p.m. this Friday. The Badgers are coached by Justin Argraves, Mountain View’s coach in 2010.
“Next week is homecoming,” Fuentes said last Friday. “Our old coach is coming back. We have to win homecoming.”
The Mountain Lions need to avoid falling to 3-3 after their surprising 3-0 start. Their coach is confident his players can do it.
“We’re not done yet,” Branson said. “Now we have to win the next two.”