HYRUM — They graduated a wealth of very good players from their 4A state runner-up squad, but it appears the cupboard is not bare for the Mustangs — not even close.
Brady Hall tossed a pair of touchdown passes and rushed for two more scores, and Mountain Crest’s defense shined en route to a 32-10 victory over Salem Hills in the season opener for both football teams Friday night at Lynn R. Miller Field.
“I’m so proud of these kids,” MC head coach Jason Lee said. “They’ve worked hard. They’ve got a chip in their shoulder like the other team did, too. I mean, that’s what these Mountain Crest kids do — they fight. They want to play hard, and they want to win.”
It was a balanced offensive attack for the Mustangs, who passed for 172 yards and rushed for 129. As solid as the offense was, it was the defense that set the tone for Mountain Crest.
Defensive lineman Isais Sanchez, playing in his first varsity game, recovered a pair of fumbles that resulted in 10 Mustang points. The Skyhawks coughed the pigskin up on the first play from scrimmage, and Sanchez pounced on it.
Three plays later, Hall found Jace Dart between the hash marks for a 17-yard scoring strike less than two minutes into the opening quarter.
A bad snap led to Sanchez’s second fumble recovery, which took place early in the third quarter. Emilio Veater, another varsity newcomer, forced the fumble.
“It’s awesome. I couldn’t have done it without my coaches,” Sanchez said. “They get me in the right mindset right before the game. I couldn’t have done it without my whole varsity team. I was always playing scout team (before this year). They made me better, and I made them better, and we made it to the state championship (game). And that’s the goal this year.”
Mountain Crest’s defense also scored two points when Edgardo Huerta tackled a Salem Hills ball carrier in the end zone to give the hosts an 8-0 lead late in the first quarter. The Mustangs limited the Skyhawks to a paltry 76 yards of total offense in the opening half.
The Mustangs committed a handful of penalties in the first two quarters, otherwise they were pretty sharp offensively. Hall threw both of his TDs in an opening half in which the standout quarterback completed 9 of 13 passes for 143 yards.
“We’ve got a lot of things to work on,” Lee said. “That definitely was not a mistake-free game, but we did some good things. The kids fought, and that’s what you look for in these home openers, first games and so forth.”
Hall’s second TD through the air was a well-executed 36-yarder to Kordell Welch with 26 seconds remaining in the second quarter. Mountain Crest took a commanding 22-3 advantage into the break.
A big pass to Dart set up Hall’s first rushing TD, a 2-yarder early in the second quarter. Hall then powered his way into the end zone from 1 yard out on fourth and goal with 1:10 remaining in the contest.
Dart, who was a defensive stalwart for the Mustangs last season, showed his offensive mettle Friday. The all-state wrestler rushed for 91 yards on 18 attempts and also hauled in four receptions.
“I’ve always been behind some great people, like Beau Robinson,” said Dart, who went on to praise MC’s offensive line. “He’s awesome, I love him and he’s always been above me, and I’ve learned a lot from him, so I owe a lot to Beau. But yeah, it’s nice to be able to show what I’ve got on offense.”
Varsity newcomers Trae Fuller and Hunter Schroeder also had some good rushes for Mountain Crest, which had six different players catch a pass from Hall. Brandon Arnell booted a 45-yard field goal early in the third quarter for the Mustangs.
“Whenever you lose a lot of seniors, people don’t expect you to come back as strong, but we knew we had some strong underclassmen, and we were just happy we were able to show it tonight, show people what we’ve got,” Dart said.
Lee made it a point to praise his assistant coaches and said “I’ve got the best staff in the world.”
Green Canyon went on the road and was less than one minute away from beating Real Salt Lake Academy High School. RSL Academy escaped with a 1-1 draw.
Kennedy Eskelson scored on a pass from Mariah Clements in the first 15 minutes of the match for the Wolves (2-1-2). Green Canyon head coach Sven Rasmussen raved about the play off Clements.
“Best soccer we have played (this season), back to front,” Rasmussen said. “Beautiful, possession-based soccer. We had multiple chances for more goals but lacked the finished product in the final third (of the pitch). From first game until now, I’m very pleased. Room for improvement for sure, but I feel we are in a good place.”