Football is full of clichés!
“It is a game of two halves.”
“We’re taking it one game a time.”
“The quarterback had all day to throw the ball.”
“These guys came to play!”
Friday night’s game at Damonte Ranch High School featured a well-used football cliché, “Ball-hawking defense.”
You often hear that phrase used, but what does it really mean? According to the Free Dictionary, a ball-hawking defense describes one that is skilled in stealing the ball, and the Reno Huskies proved to be adept at doing that Friday night. The Mustangs had three turnovers in the first ten minutes of the game. The Mustangs finished the night with five turnovers in a 35-14 victory. One would think five Damonte turnovers would be enough to secure a victory for Reno High, but Damonte’s defense rose to the occasion.
Damonte’s defense was tasked with slowing down one of the top offenses in the North and running back Drue Worthen. Worthen came in averaging 224 yards per game with nine touchdowns in three contests. Worthen was unable to penetrate Damonte’s stout defensive line, nor gain the edge where he might have found open space to utilize his speed and elusiveness. With their run game held in-check, the Huskies looked to the air to get the offense going, but Damonte was ready for that.
Christian Jamison, senior linebacker and running back, played a terrific game for Damonte on both sides of the ball, in particular on the defensive side where he terrorized the Reno High quarterbacks. The Huskies moved the ball on their first drive of the night, resulting in a touchdown, but after that they were largely held in-check by the Mustangs formidable defense. The Huskies’ other touchdown came on a controversial play. Ethan Kulpin, the Mustangs quarterback, was hit while throwing the ball; the ball landed a few yards in front of Kulpin, where it was picked up by Carter Stokes, who jogged into the endzone. The officials met to discuss the play, eventually signaling a touchdown for the Huskies. That would be the final touchdown of the night for the Huskies.
Speaking of touchdowns, Damonte offensive lineman Jordan Francisco almost had one for the Mustangs. Sophomore running back Ashton Hayes (more on him later) was hit while streaking downfield in the second quarter. Francisco, trailing the play, snatched the ball out of the air, tucked it, and sprinted toward the endzone, but he was stopped at the ten-yard line.
The final touchdown of the night, for the Mustangs, came when freshman quarterback West Smith led junior wideout Ian Williams with a beautiful pass into the endzone. Williams has been battling non-football related health issues but continues to contribute to the Mustangs’ effort on special teams and offense.
Finally, it was another impressive performance by the Mustangs Ashton Hayes. Hayes repeatedly ran out of tackles and broke away from contact while picking up impressive chunks of yardage. Hayes went well over a hundred yards and scored a touchdown. With the game being televised, the North is on alert: Hayes is a force to be reckoned with.
Up Next – a homecoming date with the McQueen Lancers. The Lancers will visit Damonte with one win and two losses. The Lancers picked up a 41-11 win at Carson last week but dropped a tough one to the Bishop Manogue Miners 57-7 Friday night. For Damonte to have a successful night, they will have to contain the Lancer passing attack without allowing the Lancer's run game to get going. On offense, the Mustangs will hope to see Ashton Hayes continue to chew up yards and move the chains. Damonte may look to work on the downfield passing game, and don’t be surprised to see freshman quarterback West Smith come in and get more time for the Mustangs.
About Your Author – Lynn Ault announces football, basketball, and wrestling at Damonte. His son is a senior lineman for the Mustangs and his daughter graduated from Damonte in 2018. His wife, A’Laina, teaches at Damonte and is head of the math department. Lynn also works with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and is the Youth Pastor for Hope Community Church.