In front of a large enthusiastic home crowd, the Mineral County High Serpents football team took another easy victory on Friday, dominating Excel Christian 52-8.
With the win, the Serpents, ranked number four state wide, continues its undefeated season, and move to 1-0 in its conference.
The game was a tour de force by the squad from Mineral County. Before a home-town crowd for the first time this season, the Serpents running game seemed unstoppable, and frequent, though often unsuccessful, kept the Warriors’ defense on its toes.
“Offensively, we’re coming along,” said Curt McElroy, Serpents head coach. “We worked out a few wrinkles, a few more wrinkles appeared, but its nothing that we can’t fix.”
The Serpents defense nearly shut out the Warriors, only allowing the Warriors to slip through the line with about a minute and a half left in the game.
“Defensively we played tough,” McElroy said. “We’ve know we were going to be pretty tough on defense all along.”
Senior Collin Sanford racked up the most yards for the Serpents, churning out 122 yards on 13 carries and pulling in two catches for 8 yards. Senior quarterback Jared Kuehey ran 19 times for 121 yards, two touchdowns, and was four for 16 in the air for 33 yards.
“We had a rough time with the passing game this week, but then again they had a tough time with the running game,” McElroy said.
Tyshawn Bonner ended both of his runs in the endzone and put up a total of 85 yards on the ground, and caught a pass for 3 yards. Victor Williams had four touches for 57 yards and a touchdown; Brady Cardenas smashed in a 1 yard run for a touchdown and caught an 18 yard pass; and Wattie Balderama ran for 5 yards.
“If you want to take away our passing game, we’ll run the ball then,” he said. “You want to take away the run, we’ll throw the ball on you.”
But the key to the game for the Serpents was the defense.
“Defense wins championships,” McElroy said. “Offense scores points, but your defense wins championships. If you win by one, then who cares, as long as you win by that one.”
Bonner was a major force on the defense. He returned a first-quarter fumble for a 62-yard touchdown, and added a sack, four tackles, and two assists. Williams also had a sack, five tackles and two assists.
Spencer Benjaman brought in seven tackles and an assist; Tommy “Rampage” Jackson had two tackles, four assists, and recovered a fumble; Collin Sanford had six tackles, pulled down an interception, and added an assist.
“I think I did some pretty good blocking, and good on defense, but there still some things I need to work on,” Benjaman said. “Blocking. Pass blocking, protecting the quarterback, all that kind of stuff.”
Sheldon Self had two tackles and picked up a fumble; Chandler Isom ended three plays; Balderama had two tackles; Dakota Dillard, and Chance Sterns each had a tackle.
Cardenas also had a pair of spectacular pass defenses deep in the middle of the field, saving touchdowns both times.
“We did well on offense, but I’d say defense was probably our strongest suit,” Benjaman said. “We allowed eight points throughout the whole game and we stopped them. We did good.”
McElroy said his team uses the KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid) method with the defense.
“We’re not too complicated with our defense, we’re in and out of fronts,” he said. “We make it real simple for the kids to get. We’re a gap control team, that’s what we do.
“And we do it really well.”
The Serpents next opponent is the Virginia City Muckers. The teams will square off on Friday in Virginia City.
The Muckers are 1-2 on the season and ranked 6th in the state.
On the Muckers’ last outing, it was routed by Pahranagat Valley High, 44-0.
McElroy said the Muckers look good on film, but he can never be sure what to expect from an opponent until he plays it for the first time.
“I think what we need to do is just realize that we’re going there for business and play football, play our game of football,” McElroy said. “Don’t play their game of football, play our game of football, and I think we’ll be just fine.”