A group of Mountain View High School Lions had a surprise for coach Clarence ‘Bam’ McRae in the waning seconds of last Friday’s season finale against Flowing Wells.
Moving with all the quiet a handful of football players could muster, the young men carried, then dumped a five-gallon jug of water on McRae. The surprise not only ended the season on a positive note, but capped off the team’s biggest upset win of the year.
The Lions pounded the hometown Caballeros, racking up 364 rushing yards on offense while forcing three turnovers in a 42-16 thumping.
The win capped off a 5-5 campaign for the Lions, with all five victories coming in succession, earning them the 5A Sonoran region crown.
McRae’s voice cracked with emotion in the aftermath of his team’s overwhelming victory as he described the way his players fought against a Caballeros team that entered the night with an 8-1 record.
“We want to try to be a dominant program, so you got to play dominant people, but to win our section and come out in battle, this is my first section title,” McRae said. “Being a section champion is something that our kids look forward to, and we knew we were going to battle our butts off to try to get that, so we’re excited for where the program’s at and where we’re going, and we look forward to battling another day.”
McRae was especially proud of the way his son, Calib, who played in his last high school game, scoring two rushing touchdowns on offense, with 11 tackles on defense.
“I’m just proud of the person that he is,” McCrae said. “He’s a great teammate, he’s a great son, but at the same time, he’s always good to everybody around him. Just watching him play his game, it probably won’t be his last, but at the same time, I’m excited, and I’m happy for him to celebrate this win with his teammates.”
For Calib, the night’s victory served as a fitting coronation for a squad that lost its first five games by a combined score of 194-63.
“We put a lot of effort in this year, we had some trials, tribulations,” Calib said. “Just for us to come together as a unit at the end of the season, it was a perfect way to go out. It was a perfect way to go out.”
Calib’s defensive brethren provided much of the Lions’ punch on Friday, with teammates Darren Stroman and Joseph Peña snagging interceptions, while senior lineman Julio Torres provided the back-breaking score, recovering a fumble and taking it across the field for a touchdown.
It was a night that McRae and his son won’t soon forget, with Calib going to great lengths to thank his father for the effort he put in to get the team ready to play each Friday.
“He does so much for this program at Mountain View that people don’t know about,” Calib said. “We just wanted to put in the work for him, and I just wanted to make him go out on top. That’s what he wanted.”
The Lions missed out on the 5A playoffs, though junior running back Varney Larson, who had 49 yards and rushing touchdown in the Lions win on Friday, sees a bright future for the program.
“We have a lot of young guys,” he said. “Even though we have young guys, we all worked through like we’re seniors. We all connect like we’ve been family since young. We just have to get back to work.”
State playoff brackets announced
The 16-team fields for each division were released Saturday morning, with Ironwood Ridge and Marana making the field in 5A. The Tigers received the ninth seed in the division, traveling to Vail to face Cienega at 7 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 2, while the Nighthawks earned the 12th seed, facing Higley High School at the same time.
In 4A, Canyon del Oro made the bracket as the 10th seed, facing Cactus at 7 p.m. on Friday in Glendale. The Pusch Ridge Christian Academy Lions made the 3A playoffs as the 13th seed, facing Page High School on the road Friday.
The winners of each game will play in the quarterfinals, which will be held at the higher seed’s facility at 7 p.m. next Friday, Nov. 9.