The habitually victorious Mineral County High (7-1) football team chalked up another easy win on Saturday against Whittell High (1-5).
Along the shores of Lake Tahoe, the Serpents dispatched the Warriors, 60-8, on its Homecoming game.
The Serpents were once again strong out of the gate and never looked back. Two minutes into the game Jarred Keuhey, senior quarterback, ran the Serpents’ first score in from the 8-yard line.
It was his first of four touchdowns during the game, and the only one he scored on the ground.
By the end of the first quarter, the Serpents was up by four scores.
The Serpents defense buckled only once the entire game, when it allowed an 85-yard run into the end zone at the end of the second quarter.
The second quarter was also the slowest period of the game offensively for the Serpents — they scored only one touchdown.
“I was a little disappointed with the end of the second quarter,” said coach Curt McElroy. “The first quarter we scored 30 points, and I think we sort of got real lax, though ‘Ok, we’re just going to kinda cruise along.’
“They did tighten up a little bit, but that’s still no excuse for only going tit-for-tat with their plays.”
While the Serpents were able to claim an easy victory against the Warriors, McElroy sees the second-quarter slump as a potential problem spot for his team.
“We need to put together four quarters to win that championship,” McElroy said. “We can’t have one quarter off, because that kills you, and you have to try and get that momentum going.”
McElroy said the Serpents focused on the ground game against the Warriors.
The running attack kept the Warriors’ defense on its heels, and the Serpents racked up 357 yards total.
Collin Sanford lead the pack with 139 and three touchdowns; with Keuhey close behind with 138 yards; Tyshawn Bonner churned out all 41 of his rushing yards on his only run, which ended in the Warrior’s endzone; Victor Martinez ran for 24 yards on 2 carries; and Wattie Balderama ran for 15 yards on two touches.
But the Serpents didn’t run at the expense of the passing game. Kuehey was 12 for 20 in the air for 161 yards and three touchdowns.
Sanford and Bonner each had four catches and combined for 73 yards. Two of Sanford’s catches and one of Bonners cross the goal line. Martinez also pulled in three receptions for 63 yards.
But none of them had the hottest hands of the afternoon. Senior Brady Cardenas tied the state eight-man record by pulling in four interceptions in the first half.
Gespite the easy win, McElroy doesn’t think he’s seen everything his team has to give.
“We played well, but not as well as I think we’re capable of playing,” he said. “I don’t think we’ve hit our prime yet, or reached our total potential right now. I think we’re a week off.”
And the Serpents are going to need to hit their stride on Saturday when it travels to Coleville to take on the 7-1 Coleville High Wolves.
The Wolves have fallen only to Virginia City so far this season, and the outcome of the game in Coleville will almost certainly determine who gets the second slot in the playoffs.
“Offensively, we can’t fall into a lull and play their type of game,” he said. “We’ve got to make them play our type of game.”
One of McElroy’s concerns against Coleville is screen plays. The Serpents have struggled against the screen all year, and Coleville has a “fine screen game,” McElroy said.
“So, we’ve got to prepare for that,” he said.
McElroy said he’s also concerned about Coleville’s tendency to blitz, although he said if the offensive line stays “squared on the line of scrimmage,” he expects the team will be able to handle the blitz.
“We’ve got to play our best football game against Coleville,” he said. “And they’re a good team. They’ve got some weapons, they’re not as big as they’ve been before, but they play sound football.”