Jags defense earns tough 7-6 victory
There was only one quarter that mattered when Mill Valley hosted Santa Fe Trail, on Oct. 5, and fortunately for the Jaguars they won that quarter and the game 7-6.
In winning their third straight game, the Jags held a potent SFT passing attack in check for the entire game. In fact, Mill Valley allowed just one play of 10 yards or more as it continued to be a football team led by its defense.
"The defense has definitely been the reason," coach George Radell said. "I'm not sure of the why of it, but our defense has been great lately; we've only given up six points in our last three games."
That defense again used its dominant, hard-hitting style of play to beat the Chargers, but early on it didn't appear that it was the defense's night.
After a first quarter littered with penalties and stalled drives, the Chargers took the ball in the second quarter and began to march. Santa Fe Trail put together a drive balanced with the pass and the run and put points on the board when halfback Ryan Hulings broke loose for a 20-yard touchdown.
"They only got one big play on us," Radell said. "But it was a big one."
Hulings' touchdown put SFT up 6-0, but the extra point failed. At the time, it didn't appear to be much more than another missed extra point in a high school football game. But when it was all said and done, it was the difference in the game.
Immediately following SFT's touchdown, the Jags answered the call. On its next possession, Mill Valley drove the length of the field and scored when freshman David Woods broke through on a six-yard touchdown trot. Woods, who again posted solid numbers as the team's starting tailback, performed well in his fifth straight game.
"The offense is getting better because the youth on our team is getting comfortable," Radell said. "(Quarterback Tony) Alvarez has now done this six times and David's starting to get used to the fact that this game moves faster than his old 8th grade games."
The Jaguars had lost place kicker (Brandon Simpson) earlier in the week because of an injury he suffered while playing soccer, so it was up to Matt Mauzey to give Mill Valley the lead. Mauzey did not get a chance to work on the kicking game at all during the week's practice, but when it was time, he knocked the kick through the uprights and closed the book on the scoring for the game.
"Every scoring opportunity came in the first half," Radell said. "In the third and fourth quarter we just kind of went back and forth between the 35's."
Once the Jags captured the lead, Radell said, he was certain his team was not going to give up any more points on defense. That's not to say he didn't sweat it out though.
"Our defense was playing well enough that we all thought the one point would hold up," Radell said. "But there's so many ways to score. They could've scored on special teams, on a fumble, on any miscue, so we didn't relax until that game was over."
The game was unofficially over when defensive back Tim Herbel intercepted a Charger pass deep in Mill Valley territory. The interception was Herbel's second of the game and both came in the second half on the Jaguars' side of the field.
"It seemed like our secondary was always back there," Radell said. "We were always right around their deepest man and if it was thrown David (Woods) or Herbel or Rickey Wilson would just go up and knock it down."
After playing six straight league games to open the season, the Jaguars will take a break from the Kaw Valley League when they host Bishop Ward Friday, Oct. 12 to open up district play. Radell said Ward plays with a style that reminds him of his own team.
"I wouldn't compare them to us, because we play different styles of offense," Radell said. "But they hang their hats on their running game and their defense."
After Ward, the Jaguars will host Eudora and then travel to De Soto to round out their district. If the Jaguars go 3-0, chances are they would get a shot at going to the playoffs. Right now, however, Radell is not even thinking that far in advance.
"Playoffs would be so nice," Radell said. "But I'm certainly not trying to figure out who we'd play in a playoff game. I'm just going to get ready to play Ward and go from there."
Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. at De Soto District Stadium.