Mustangs understand challenge vs. St. Marys

By Joel Jellison

Last season, the Valley Heights Mustangs opened with an overtime loss to Valley Falls.

After that, the Mustangs’ season continued its slow start, with losses in their first five games.

With a 30-24 overtime win over Valley Falls to kickoff the year last Friday, the Mustangs are hoping they can continue their momentum this Friday at St. Marys.

Valley Heights coach Tony Trimble admitted his team was confident after winning the season opener at home.

“I think they feel pretty good,” he said. “We have a lot of young kids, inexperienced kids and that was their first varsity action. We did some good things, rushed the ball for over 400 yards, but they also know there are some things we’ve got to get better at.”

Standing ahead of the Mustangs (1-0) this week is a challenge in St. Marys, which held one of the top returning teams in Class 2-1A — Centralia — to 16 points in a loss last Friday.

The Bears (0-1) trounced Valley Heights 43-12 last season, and Trimble said he knows they have a tough task ahead of them. He said St. Marys and the Bears’ Week 1 opponent Centralia are the two toughest teams they play all year.

“Centralia will be a solid team, great chance of winning the state championship and St. Marys is in a tough league,” he said. “I was surprised the score wasn’t higher but not totally shocked either.”

Looking at the matchup this week, Trimble said they will have to play sound football and keep mistakes at a minimum. And it also wouldn’t hurt to get the passing game going more efficiently than in week one.

“They’re not going to have very many weaknesses — they did a lot of things well,” he said. “They have a solid line, solid backs, they do a variety of things offensively to keep you guessing and they are very good at finding out your weakness. And their defense is quick to the ball.”

Leading the Mustangs rushing charge in Week 1 was senior running back Derek Trimble, who ran 11 times for 172 yards and two touchdowns. Cole Maddox added 182 yards on 14 carries and a score, while quarterback Gage Woodyard ran for 33 yards and two touchdowns.

It was the debut at quarterback for Woodyard, who played at slot receiver last season. Derek Trimble, moved from quarterback to running back.

Coach Trimble said he thought the transition was smooth, but they have to be better in the passing game than the 0-for-1 performance against Valley Falls.

“Gage did a good job reading the option, and he made some calls at the line of scrimmage that allowed us to make some better plays,” he said. “A combination of things made us unable to pass the football, but that’s something we’re focusing on this week.

“Teams will see the way we ran the ball. They’re going to load up to stop the run, so we’ve got to be able to pass the ball.”

Defensively, Trimble and Maddox were among the Mustangs most steady performers, combing for 25 tackles.

But Coach Trimble said his defense has to be better, as Valley Falls moved the ball efficiently, keeping the game close all night.

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