Jaguars impressive in opener
Rarely do you hear a football team talk about controlling its own destiny after the first week of the season. The Mill Valley Jaguars, however, are doing exactly that after a hard-earned 9-6 victory over defending Kaw Valley League champions Immaculata last Friday.
"We talked about that after we beat Immaculata," Head Coach George Radell said. "Now we don't have to hope that somebody beats somebody else on a particular night. We can just go out there every Friday night and take care of our business and let things fall into place."
There were a few jitters, a few mistakes and few points in the opening game, but Radell said that didn't mean the teams didn't fight hard. Rather, it meant that there were still some things that need to be worked on, and game one illustrated that.
The Jaguar's primary concern is penalties. MVHS logged eight penalties in Friday's contest, most of which were false starts. Radell said that was something they'd fix in practice.
"It was a tough game and we played hard," Radell said. "But it wasn't a thing of beauty."
Mill Valley fell behind early when Immaculata broke through for a 17-yard touchdown pass from Kevin Pike to John McEvoy. The strike came on a third-and-17 play in the second quarter, and Radell said it was just one of the few times his team broke down defensively. IHS, however, missed the ensuing extra point and headed to the locker room with a 6-0 halftime lead.
The Jaguars returned the favor in the third quarter when they, too, missed an extra point.
Mill Valley's touchdown came on a one-yard quarterback sneak by sophomore Tony Alvarez. Alvarez was given the starting nod after out-dueling senior Donny Slavinski. For the most part, Radell was pleased with the sophomore's debut.
"It was kind of up and down with Tony, but he played pretty well," Radell said. "He was 2-for-3 in his passing and both completions were big passes. The third was only incomplete because of a great defensive play. And he carried the ball well and made good reads on the option. He did fumble, but again, I think some of that could've been first-game type of stuff."
After tying the game at 6, the Jaguars and Raiders went into the fourth quarter all knotted up, but Mill Valley broke the tie with a field goal with eight minutes remaining. From there, Radell said his defense took over.
"Our defense really played well," Radell said. "We were really flying to the football and I just didn't think that we'd give up another score once we took the lead."
The Jaguars didn't, but had it not been for Eric Pingleton they might have. With Immaculata driving and time winding down, Pingleton stepped in front of Pike's pass at the MVHS 15-yard line and intercepted it. The pick preserved the win for the Jaguars, as they went on to wind down the clock and then pin Immaculata deep in their own end with less than a minute remaining.
Mill Valley's final drive was particularly impressive for Radell.
"I thought we were able to control the line of scrimmage and our guys really stepped up in the fourth quarter," he said. "I don't know if it was heart or if it was toughness. But we got the victory, and it was sweet to get that victory."
Next up for the Jaguars is another KVL opponent, Perry-Lecompton. The Kaws are led by senior halfback Jared Swafford and new Head Coach Mike Paramore. Radell said he knew a little about Paramore's past and that the new coach will have his team ready to play.
"They are a very well-coached football team," Radell said of his next opponent. "They're very well-schooled, especially defensively, and we're going to have to be ready to play."
Last week, Perry lost 20-0 to Tonganoxie.
"It was only 8-0 in the fourth quarter so them losing 20-0 is kind of misleading," Radell said.
Kickoff is at 7 p.m.