The first football game of the season at the middle school level is generally one of nerves and uncertainty. Young players, new plays and the game moving faster than anything players have seen so far in practices. Combine nervous energy with the excitement of facing an opposing school for the first time and it may take time to settle in. So, when the 2017 Wheatridge Mustang 8th grade football team kicked off in Ottawa to take on the Whirlwinds, maybe as predicted, it took time for the Mustangs to find a groove. The opening half both teams spent settling those first game jitters with the defenses providing most of the action. Ottawa did manage an opening drive touchdown to go up 6-0 and kept that lead until the Mustangs answered with a score of their own in the second quarter on a 2 yard Kye Beauford touchdown plunge. The extra point attempt was unsuccessful and the first half ended with the score knotted at 6-6.
It only took until after halftime for both offenses to find their groove. After putting up 12 total points in the 1st half, both teams combined for 42 points in the 3rd and 4th quarters. Ottawa did their scoring in the 3rd quarter with the Whirlwinds pushing ahead 30-6. The 4th quarter was all Mustangs. The scoring began with a 63-yard touchdown pitch and catch from Walter Chrisjohn to Jake McClure to pull the Mustangs to 30-12. The Mustang defense held and was spurred by a Walter Chrisjohn sack of the Ottawa quarterback which resulted in a fumble with Chrisjohn also recovering the loose ball. The Mustangs then marched down the field, and capped the possession off with a Jake McClure 15-yard touchdown scamper pulling the Mustangs to 30-18. The Wheatridge coaches then dialed up an onside kick and the special teams unit came through, with Jimmy Page recovering the loose ball.
The offense, having now scored on 2 straight possessions, once again carved through the Ottawa defense with another Chrisjohn to McClure touchdown pass, this one good for a 23-yard score to make it 30-24 Whirlwinds. The Mustangs, now within a touchdown but with only 9 seconds left, once again tried an onside kick, but this time Ottawa recovered the ball and ran out the clock on the ensuing offensive play.
The Mustangs were led offensively by Walter Chrisjohn’s 116 passing yards and 2 touchdowns. Jake McClure provided 74 passing yards as well. McClure paced the Mustangs with 116 receiving yards on 3 receptions and 2 touchdowns. Collin Smith pulled in 2 receptions for 41 yards and Brady LeCluyse chipped in a catch for 33 yards. McClure also led the Mustangs with 43 yards rushing on 7 carries with a touchdown. Kye Beauford tallied 26 yards on 8 carries with a touchdown. Collin Smith also ran the ball for 9 yards.
Defensively, the Mustangs were led by Jimmy Page and Beauford with 3 unassisted tackles each. Robert Meyer was part of 7 assisted and unassisted tackles total. Logan Fahy recorded 4 tackles, including one for loss.
The Mustangs next action will come at home on , Sept. 12 as the Baldwin Bulldogs come to town for a 4 kickoff.