A near sell-out crowd at Mountain View High School was treated to a defensive slugfest on Friday night.
The contest, between the hometown Lions and the 3-1 Tucson High School Badgers, came down to two field goals and a touchdown, all of which were scored by the home team.
The net result was a 12-0 win that gave first-year Mountain View coach Matt Johnson his first victory at the north side school, after starting the season three straight losses.
Johnson, who moved to MVHS from neighboring Ironwood Ridge in the offseason, said the team’s defensive effort against a high-flying Badgers offense was what he’ll remember most from the contest.
“It was a little sloppy. I think the thing is we've got a lot of talent, and if we can ever get out of our own way we could be pretty darn good,” Johnson said. “The pessimist in me was finding some of our actions a little interesting, but I'll tell you, the kids definitely...There's never a question about their effort. Great effort, and it's great to come away with a W.”
The Lions defense thwarted Tucson High School all night, keeping a Badgers attack that averaged more than 30 points per game off the scoreboard.
Johnson gushed with pride about how well his defense carried itself, especially on a night when the Lions’ offensive unit sputtered on most of their drives.
“We've got a defense that has a chance to be pretty darn good,” Johnson said. “This is the second weekend in a row that they’ve excelled defensively now. This week was special. A lot of great things, and we just need to keep getting better.”
Johnson’s side scored the game’s lone touchdown just in the second quarter, after junior quarterback Hayden Parson scored on a one-yard draw play.
That scoring play was set up by a 30-yard run by senior Aaron Logsdon, who took a Parson handoff to the shadows of the Badgers end zone on the previous snap.
Logsdon, who serves as a captain on Johnson’s team, said Friday’s win was huge for all involved, as it gave the team a shot at resurrecting their season.
“Oh, it means a lot. It's a big turning point in our season because we were 0-3 and this is a big win for us, a big turning point,” Logsdon said. “So hopefully we can keep this momentum rolling into the next six games and make it so the playoffs.”
The Lions will certainly have a shot at doing just that if their defense can play as well as it did on Friday night, with a road game against 2-2 Cienega awaiting them next week.
Senior linebacker Kai Walsh, who picked up a huge sack in the game’s fourth quarter on Friday, said the team’s play against the Badgers inspires confidence that the team is bound for a second-half turnaround.
Walsh believes the Lions can use their win over Tucson as a springboard for their upcoming clash in Vail.
“We played strong together tonight. The past couple of games we've been playing really well, but I mean I think we really came together this week, assignment wise,” Walsh said. “We really came out to play. We had a good energy, we had good mentality and we just did our thing.”
Logsdon said the team’s defense-first mentality stems from their veteran lineup on that side of the ball, with several seniors starting at key positions on that side of the ball.
He’s confident the team can use Friday’s win as a jumping off point against Cienega, using their collective experience and camaraderie as an asset against the Bobcats.
“It's just a huge group of seniors and it's really special because we're all family,” Logsdon said. “We're all super close friends. They're all my brothers. All the seniors are super close.”
Johnson certainly is far from fearful that his players will show up in Vail unready to compete against their longtime rivals.
He knows how talented this year’s team is from top to bottom and knows how far they can go with a little help from their offensive brethren.
Johnson is confident that the team will be able to put everything together come Friday night, giving the Bobcats everything they can handle.
“They've got some good determination and some good will. I think they want to be great; they realize they could be great, and they're coachable,” Johnson said. “When they make a mistake, even if it's a silly mistake, they don't argue about it. They acknowledge it.
“They accept coaching. That's really what's helped us get better each week, is their attitude.”